Jamie Whincup wins thrilling V8 Supercars opener in Adelaide

Reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup started his title defence with a dramatic victory in the 2012 season-opener in Adelaide

Jamie Whincup wins thrilling V8 Supercars opener in Adelaide

The Triple Eight Holden driver used a three-stop strategy where others tried to stretch their fuel mileage on two pit visits.

That set up a grandstand finish with the flying Whincup hunting down the leaders, and finally snatching first place from Ford Performance Racing's Will Davison on the last lap as the Falcon stuttered.

Whincup's victory came just six days after the death of his father, making the win as emotional as it was hard-earned.

While Davison still salvaged second, his team-mate Mark Winterbottom - who had been running the same strategy - had to pit for fuel and tumbled from a likely podium finish to ninth.

Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) led until deciding the fuel gamble would not work, but pitting with six laps left meant he could still finish third, ahead of polesitter Craig Lowndes (Triple Eight), whose afternoon was marred by a small mistake and a puncture - the save of which is worth mention. The Holden driver's left rear deflated just before the pit entry on the fast right-hander and Lowndes saved the slide and entered the lane broadside in what might end being the catch of the season.

He was thus able to make his final pitstop coincide with the tyre damage, and moved back up the order as others pitted. He led home Lee Holdsworth, Fabian Coulthard, Rick Kelly, Todd Kelly, Winterbottom, Steven Johnson, Shane van Gisbergen and Tim Slade in a train of cars filling the top 12.

Tander's team-mate James Courtney's season got off to a bad start when an apparent mechanical problem led to a heavy early crash at the 220km/h Turn 8, that also eliminated Jason Bright and Taz Douglas. Bright was taken to hospital for checks following his impact with the wall.

Also in trouble were top-10 qualifiers David Reynolds, who crashed out again at Turn 8 (bringing out the safety car for a second time), and Jonathon Webb, who needed a long pitstop after brushing the wall.

Results - 78 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jamie Whincup Triple 8 Holden 1h56m34.2914s 2. Will Davison FPR Ford + 5.5249s 3. Garth Tander HRT Holden + 20.7870s 4. Craig Lowndes Triple 8 Holden + 39.2776s 5. Lee Holdsworth Stone Brothers Ford + 39.7475s 6. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden + 40.8213s 7. Rick Kelly Kelly Holden + 41.7770s 8. Todd Kelly Kelly Holden + 42.5089s 9. Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford + 44.5761s 10. Steven Johnson Dick Johnson Ford + 45.7243s 11. Shane van Gisbergen Stone Brothers Ford + 47.0402s 12. Tim Slade Rosenberg/SBR Ford + 47.7106s 13. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw Holden + 52.5089s 14. Michael Patrizi Tekno Holden + 58.0684s 15. James Moffat Dick Johnson Ford + 59.7580s 16. Dean Fiore Triple F Ford + 1m03.8029s 17. Alexandre Premat Garry Rogers Holden + 1m16.3911s 18. David Wall Britek/BJR Holden + 1 lap 19. Steve Owen Dick Johnson Ford + 1 lap 20. Karl Reindler Kelly Holden + 1 lap 21. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Ford + 1 lap 22. Michael Caruso Garry Rogers Holden + 1 lap 23. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden + 2 laps 24. Greg Murphy Kelly Holden + 11 laps Did not finish: David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford 44 laps James Courtney HRT Holden 4 laps Taz Douglas Dumbrell Holden 4 laps Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden 4 laps 
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Craig Lowndes takes first V8 Supercars pole of 2012 in Adelaide
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