James Moffat has claimed his and Nissan Motorsports maiden V8 Supercars victory, leading home team-mate Michael Caruso to a resounding one-two finish in the opening race of the Winton 360.
Starting the race in third, Moffat held his ground ahead of Pepsi Max Crew’s Mark Winterbottom in the opening half, before taking the lead from Norton Racing teammate Michael Caruso at the double-file rolling restart after Caruso appeared to miss a gear. Moffat then controlled the race until locking up and running wide into turn eight on lap 34, brought Caruso right up on his bumper.
Despite the close shave, Moffat held his nerve taking the flag ahead of Caruso to become the 11th different race winner this season, giving Nissan its first victory in the series for 21 years.
“I’ve worked hard to get to this point in my career and to breakthrough for my first win means a lot,” said Moffat.
“What a great day for everyone at Nissan Motorsport, Norton and Toshiba. It’s all a bit of a dream at the moment.
“I really tried to come into this event without many expectations. Naturally, if we were going to go well at any circuit, this was the one. It’s our test track, and I was very happy with the way we ended our test day, but I wasn’t getting carried away, because we know how finicky this track can be.
“I wasn’t prepared to get too far ahead of myself, and even when we were quickest yesterday, I was keeping a lid on it.
“This result speaks for itself. We’re one-two in both races. Sure, Jamie had a bit of bad luck, but both of us proved we had great pace.”
In his 11th pole position of the year Championship leader Jamie Whincup bolted off the start line and established an immediate margin over the Norton 360 pairing, but fellow front row starter Caruso took over the lead at the beginning of the tenth lap when Whincup pulled off by pit exit with driveline failure. Whincup headed back into the pits, his day finished, while Caruso led the field over the line for the half time break.
In the half time break Whincup’s car was moved from its spot on the track and into the garage for investigation. The issue proved terminal and Whincup took no further part in the race.
Team BOC’s Jason Bright completed the podium, having climbed up from seventh on the grid to fourth by the end of the opening stint and then pouncing on Pepsi Max Crew FPR’s Mark Winterbottom at the restart. Bright quickly set about chasing down the Norton Hornets, dropping Winterbottom off his tail in a matter of turns, but fell back in the closing stages.
Winterbottom took fourth ahead of James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) and Pepsi Max Crew FPR team-mate Will Davison who had suffered a loss of rear grip in the back half of the first portion of the race. Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing) took seventh, while Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) came out on top over Russell Ingall (Supercheap Auto Racing) after the pair duelled for much of the second half while David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team) closed out the top ten.
Rick and Todd Kelly did not fare as well as their Nissan Motorsport team-mates, finishing in 14th and 24th respectively.
Despite his DNF, Whincup remains the championship leader on 1803 points, with Red Bull Racing Australia team-mate Craig Lowndes 101 points adrift, after he finished 21st after a poor qualifying session and got caught up in an incident during the second half of the race.
Will Davison sits third 143 points back, while Winterbottom is 162 points off the lead and Bright rounds out the top five, 246 points behind Whincup.
The V8s return to the track at Winton tomorrow at 1115 local time for qualifying.