Red Bull Racing Australia foray into V8 Supercars has started in spectacular fashion, with Craig Lowndes claiming the very first victory of 2013 on the streets of Adelaide.
The debut of the Holden VF Commodore couldn’t have gone more smoothly, Lowndes gapping the field in an incident-free race to finish first from Will Davison and Red Bull Racing Australia team-mate Jamie Whincup.
It marks Lowndes’ 90th career victory and re-affirmed Holden’s dominance in a new era for V8 Supercars.
“It was sensational,” Lowndes said.
“The car was great straight out of the box, we showed the pace in qualifying and you know, we didn’t know how the tyres or set-up would go throughout the race but it couldn’t have worked out better.
“The car was great and to get the first win of the year and the first win with Red Bull Racing Australia, I couldn’t ask for more.”
It wasn’t as smooth sailing for reigning champion Whincup in his No.1 Commodore, the 30-year-old suffering some serious front left damage after clipping a tire wall on the 12th lap. But like champions do, he found a way to persevere. And while he didn’t have the pace of his team-mate, Whincup finished a clear third to mark a close to perfect start for Red Bull Racing Australia and the Triple Eight Race Engineering team.
“Oh, what a day for the team,” Whincup said.
“I had a little issue with the barrier at the start and a few niggles here and there, but Red Bull Racing Australia, you couldn’t hope for a better weekend.
“We’ll make a few little changes and we’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s almost the perfect way to start the season for the team. They’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here – sleepless nights and such. And these results are for them.”
New manufacturers Nissan and Mercedes were hardly seen inside the top-10 throughout, with the AMG of Marco Engel failing to make it to the start line after stalling during the warm-up lap.The car returned to the track several times, only to wreak serious havoc on the field by losing oil.
The Nissans and Fords didn’t have an ideal day at the office. Though having showed early promise, Todd Kelly and Mark Winterbottom were both forced to retire from the race. And another Ford Performance Racing driver in the shape of Dave Reynolds sat-out the start entirely.
Lowndes got off to the ultimate start, jumping pole-sitter Shane Van Gisbergen before claiming the lead from Fabian Coulthard after his first pit stop on Lap 14. From there, the three-time champion and reigning No.2 was never headed.
Race two of the Clipsal 500 will start at 2.35pm (Adelaide).