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Holdsworth wins chaotic wet race 3

Valvoline Cummins driver Lee Holdsworth took a dominant maiden win in soaking conditions in race three of the Jim Beam 400 at Oran Park, on his way to winning the round overall

Holdsworth started on wets, took the lead by turn three on lap one and was never headed as he stretched his lead out to over 20 seconds in less than ten laps. A succession of safety car periods in the second half of the race couldn't stop his victory charge, Holdsworth leading every lap of the race.

Second was Garth Tander, who benefitted from a late-race tangle between Jamie Whincup, Russell Ingall and Jason Richards to move from fifth to second, with Ingall recovering to finish third ahead of Whincup and Steven Richards. Jason Richards fell to sixth, with just over two seconds covering him, Andrew Jones, Steve Owen and ninth-placed Max Wilson.

Rick Kelly again scored the last points by finishing fifteenth, albeit a lap down, one place behind Craig Lowndes who led into turn one but quickly dropped down the order as his decision to start on slicks like Kelly didn't pay off. However, they finished the race and scored points, something race one winner Mark Skaife failed to do after going off halfway through the race.

Holdsworth's win and strong race two result saw him easily the round's overall winner, ahead of Steven Richards and Craig Lowndes who both scored 38 points for the round, Richards' better placing in race three giving him second overall despite Lowndes' race two victory.

As the field approached the grid to take the start, over half the field headed for the pits to change from slicks as rain began to fall on an already damp track. The top four were among those to stay out however as the race got underway, as the rest of the field queued at the end of pit lane, waiting for the tail of the field to pass so they could start their race, now on wet tyres.

The bad news for those drivers, and even more so for those not to pit, was that Lee Holdsworth, who had started from fourth, was already on wets. Turn one, he was second, and by turn three of lap one he was leading.

At the end of lap one Holdsworth had a six second margin over his nearest rivals, which were the two Supercheap Auto cars of Cameron McConville and Paul Dumbrell, who had started from 22nd and 25th positions on the grid on wets as well, their path eased by having the right tyres and many cars in front having taken to the pits.

Lowndes and Winterbottom realised they were on the wrong tyres and pitted for wets at the end of lap one, but both had slow pit stops after problems with wheel nuts on their left-front wheels. So much so, that when Winterbottom rejoined he was a lap down on Holdsworth after just over two laps in the race!

Holdsworth continued to storm away at the front, extending his margin by over a second a lap. Meanwhile Jason Richards, who dived in for wets at the start, had climbed his way up the order as other cars faltered or headed to the pits for wets. Fifth at the end of lap two, Richards was fourth a lap later and third as he passed Paul Dumbrell for third on lap five.

A few drivers chose not to stop for wets until the compulsory pit stop window opened, including Shane van Gisbergen and reigning series champion Rick Kelly. Having already fallen to 22nd and 23rd before their stops, they were 30th and 29th respectively afterwards, over a lap down on the leaders.

Lap 13 saw Todd Kelly, who finished race two in second place, go a lap down to Holdsworth who now led second-placed Jason Richards by over twenty seconds. James Courtney was looking good for a decent result in sixth place when he was forced to retire with no front brakes.

Holdsworth had just made his compulsory pit stop on lap 23 when the first safety car came out, wiping out an enormous lead while pit action shuffled the order. When it was all said and done, Holdsworth led from Jason Richards, Russell Ingall, Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander, though not in close contact with each other as lapped cars were mixed in with them, with only the top 14 cars still on the lead lap, Skaife, Lowndes and Rick Kelly among those a lap down.

The race restarted on lap 27 but was immediately back under yellow when race leader Lee Holdsworth's teammate Dean Canto went off backwards at turn one, Ingall losing a place to Whincup. Another restart on lap 31 failed to get a lap under green before Mark Skaife went off at the exit of turn seven after a bumping duel with Greg Murphy, Ingall this time losing a place to Tander.

The race restarted again on lap 35, now down to 13 cars on the lead lap, Whincup taking second place from Richards exiting turn two. Three laps later Ingall passed Tander for fourth into turn two. But another safety car was to come as Mark Winterbottom went off at turn eight, leading to a three lap shootout to decide the race.

The race restarted on lap 44 of 46, and it wasn't long before there was drama. Into turn three Whincup slid into the lapped Murphy, spinning Murphy. Meanwhile Murphy's teammate Jason Richards got into the side of Whincup, pushing Whincup sideways in front of him with Ingall trying to dive to the inside of both of them.

Whincup straightened himself out while Ingall and Richards took to the motorcycle track to recover back to the racing line. In all this Tander kept his nose clean and went from fifth to second. Richards rejoined, immediately tipping Todd Kelly into a spin as he did so, while Steven Johnson spun as he tried to avoid the spinning Richards and got tapped from behind by John Bowe.

Holdsworth kept his head as he had all day in the two wet races, taking the win by over six seconds from Tander, while Ingall snuck through on the last lap to take third place by less than a quarter of a second from Whincup with Steven Richards only half a second further behind.

Having lost the championship lead after race one, Toll HSV's Garth Tander retook the championship lead following race three, with 389 points to teammate Rick Kelly's 383. Next up are the Team Vodafone duo of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes on 317 and 301 points, while the only other serious championship contenders appear to be the Holden Racing Team duo of Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife on 297 and 273 points respectively.

Pos  Driver                Car                   Laps
 1.  Lee Holdsworth        Holden Commodore VE    46
 2.  Garth Tander          Holden Commodore VE    46
 3.  Russell Ingall        Ford Falcon BF         46
 4.  Jamie Whincup         Ford Falcon BF         46
 5.  Steven Richards       Ford Falcon BF         46
 6.  Jason Richards        Holden Commodore VE    46
 7.  Andrew Jones          Ford Falcon BF         46
 8.  Steve Owen            Holden Commodore VZ    46
 9.  Max Wilson            Ford Falcon BF         46
10.  Paul Dumbrell         Holden Commodore VE    46
11.  Todd Kelly            Holden Commodore VE    46
12.  Steven Johnson        Ford Falcon BF         46
13.  Jason Bargwanna       Ford Falcon BF         45
14.  Craig Lowndes         Ford Falcon BF         45
15.  Rick Kelly            Holden Commodore VE    45
16.  Will Davison          Ford Falcon BF         45
17.  Simon Wills           Ford Falcon BF         45
18.  Jack Perkins          Holden Commodore VE    45
19.  John Bowe             Ford Falcon BF         45
20.  Shane Price           Holden Commodore VE    45
21.  Paul Morris           Holden Commodore VE    45
22.  Greg Murphy           Holden Commodore VE    45
23.  Shane Van Gisbergen   Ford Falcon BF         45
24.  Mark Winterbottom     Ford Falcon BF         43
DNF  Cameron McConville    Holden Commodore VE    43
DNF  Fabian Coulthard      Holden Commodore VZ    34
DNF  Mark Skaife           Holden Commodore VE    31
DNF  Alan Gurr             Ford Falcon BF         29
DNF  Dean Canto            Holden Commodore VE    27
DNF  Jason Bright          Ford Falcon BF         22
DNF  James Courtney        Ford Falcon BF         17

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