Just when it looked like V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup was going to run away with the Adelaide 500, the dream start to his title defence turned into a nightmare after he figured in one of the many dramas of Sunday’s deciding race.
Nanjing Night Net

Whincup failed to finish the final 250 kilometre leg after his comfortable lead at two-thirds distance was erased by a controversial pit lane drive through penalty that triggered his ultimate demise.

Fighting his was back from the penalty, which dropped him to eighth place, his Triple Eight Holden collided with Michael Caruso’s Nissan on the 63rd of 76 laps, snapping the steering.

Whincup’s pit stop penalty handed the lead to Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney, who held off Craig Lowndes in the other Triple Eight Commodore to claim the Adelaide 500 trophy.

Lowndes’ second place, on top of his second and a victory in Saturday’s pair of 125km races, added to Whincup’s indignity as it left him trailing his veteran teammate in the championship standings.

While the start of Whincup’s bid for an unprecedented sixth V8 title ended in rancour and recriminations, Lowndes left the brutal 3.2km Adelaide Parklands street circuit with the early points lead that most of his previous championship challenges have lacked – and on which they have often fallen short at the end of the season.

He amassed 282 points from the Adelaide 500’s three races, an advantage of 53 points over Whincup (199), who is back in fourth spot behind Fabian Coulthard (230) and Shane van Gisbergen, who were consistent scorers over the weekend.

Along with Whincup’s unexpected incidents, Sunday’s 250km slog was punctuated by big accidents that helped define the outcome, causing safety car periods that bunched the field and brought the likes of Courtney into play.

Will Davison, in his first event since his risky switch from Ford Performance Racing to Erebus Motorsport, crashed his Mercedes-Benz at the track’s infamous high-speed Turn 8.

After tangling with James Moffat’s Nissan Altima, Davison’s Merc was sent careering into the concrete safety barrier on the exit of the corner, losing its left front wheel and passenger front door.

But that crash was tame compared with the multiple rollover suffered by Jason Bright, whose Brad Jones Racing Commodore was tipped over in a first-turn scuffle during the restart following Davison’s accident.

Bright was pushed sideways into a kerb, which tripped his car up on its wheels, and it dug into the run-off area’s gravel and turned it on its roof.

The Holden slid across the track and slammed into a tyre barrier, sending it spiralling into the air along the safety fence before the wreckage slammed to earth upside-down.

Bright was uninjured in the spectacular crash despite just about every bit of the bodywork being crushed or torn.

Whincup avoided the carnage, and was sailing on serenely ahead of Courtney, who had battled through from 15th on the grid, until just after his second pit stop.

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