Bottle-O Racing's Paul Dumbrell took his maiden V8 Supercar race win in race one of the Norton 360 Challenge at Sandown, but only after a red flag and full race restart caused by contact between Dumbrell and Garth Tander on the opening lap of the original start of the race.
Dumbrell ran wide at turn one on the first attempt to start the race, going across the grass and rejoining at turn three where he and Tander made contact, the two cars making contact again at turn four and they battled side-by-side up the back straight.
As they prepared to enter the sweeping left, Tander's tyre deflated, sending him off into the tyre barriers at speed, Tander's day over on the spot. The repairs to the tyre barriers saw the race red-flagged and fully restarted, but the distance shortened due to time constraints.
At the restart, Dumbrell stayed second behind Jamie Whincup, remaining there until the pitstops, where a slower stop for Whincup saw Dumbrell move ahead. Some strong defence from Dumbrell followed in the closing laps but after over 10 years of trying and nearly 250 race starts, he took his first race victory, following directly on from a career-best result in the second race in Tasmania last weekend.
Whincup looked set for victory after a perfect start and opening a couple of seconds on Dumbrell before the stops. But another pitstop issue cost him for the second race in succession, although at least this time it only cost him one position.
Dumbrell's struggles towards the end of the race meant there were another three cars close by, Mark Winterbottom just ahead of James Courtney, who moved up another two places from his starting position, with Russell Ingall less than 1.5 seconds off the win in fifth place.
Ten seconds behind Dumbrell, Lee Holdsworth was sixth, with Rick Kelly, Craig Lowndes, moving up from 12th, and Shane van Gisbergen, up from 18th on the grid, in close attendance.
Will Davison finished tenth but spent most of the race defending his position from faster cars behind, spending the opening seven laps holding off Winterbottom for third before slipping back as the race went on.
A stall for Greg Murphy at the start of the formation lap for the restarted race almost paid off, Murphy filling up with fuel at the race start. Despite some further fuel conservation it just wasn't quite enough to get him home, pitting with three laps remaining having already dropped to sixth and eventually finishing 23rd.
Another race and the gap at the top tightens, but again Courtney's advantage didn't decrease by as much as it could or maybe should have. Courtney remains on top, with a 32 point lead over Whincup, Winterbottom 191 points behind and Lowndes the only other driver with a mathematical chance, 287 points behind Courtney with 450 still up for grabs.
Pos Driver Make Time 1. Paul Dumbrell Ford Falcon FG 39m19.6126s 2. Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE + 0.2150s 3. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 0.7011s 4. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 1.0008s 5. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 1.6049s 6. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 9.4535s 7. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 11.1740s 8. Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE + 11.5091s 9. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 12.3040s 10. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE + 15.8896s 11. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 20.9014s 12. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG + 21.4448s 13. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 21.9170s 14. Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE + 22.7221s 15. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 23.4040s 16. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 23.6367s 17. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE + 25.9700s 18. Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG + 27.7944s 19. Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG + 28.3725s 20. Jonathon Webb Ford Falcon FG + 28.6708s 21. Andrew Jones Holden Commodore VE + 38.1266s 22. Andrew Thompson Holden Commodore VE + 39.4064s 23. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 42.9151s 24. Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE + 43.0777s 25. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE +1m03.5650s 26. Tony Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE +1m05.3665s 27. Warren Luff Holden Commodore VE +1m07.2427s 28. Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE + 8 laps Did not start: Driver Make Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE