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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