Motorsport: Kiwis impress in Adelaide

By Eric Thompson in Adelaide

Drive-through penalty and spectacular crash create havoc in final V8 Supercars race.

Track marshals race to the aid of veteran Jason Bright who smashed into the wall. Photo / Getty Images
Track marshals race to the aid of veteran Jason Bright who smashed into the wall. Photo / Getty Images

The opening round of the 2014 V8 Supercars in Adelaide for the Clipsal 500 provide fans with more entertainment and hard charging racing than you could poke a stick at.

While the three races over the weekend were won by Aussies (defending champion Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes and James Courtney), the three Kiwis in the field took it to rest of the pack and podiumed in all of the races.

Tekno Autosport's Shane van Gisbergen finished third in race one and three and 20-year-old Scott McLaughlin nabbed second on debut in the Volvo in race two.

"We've had some good speed all weekend but were a little confused about the penalty [got pinged with a drive through in race three]," said van Gisbergen. "It's great to be back on the podium and the racing was pretty good fun. Although I must admit I got a bit tired of passing cars all weekend."

Fabian Coulthard may not have stood on the podium but his two fifths and a fourth sees him second on the points table just 56 points behind Crag Lowndes with van Gisbergen in third.

"The weekend's been good and to come away from here [Adelaide] second in the championship is great," said Coulthard. "Last year we left here in 23rd or something so I'm happy.

"The cars got great race pace and we're a long way ahead of where we were last year. The cars been pretty good helping me come from 16th in one race, but we've just got to sort it out for qualifying."

The opening gambit of the Aussie tin top series was full of drama, excitement, entertainment and disappointment - you name it happened. The highlight was McLaughlin and the Volvo S60 that has entered the series this year after 15 years absent and to get onto the podium in only its second race bodes well for both the car and the team.

"We were on for another podium in the last race but alternator failed with about 11 laps to go," said McLaughlin. "But seriously even with that failure I'd give the weekend nine and half out of 10.

"The weekend was huge and it's only the first one and I want to build on it and win a championship one year."

There were accidents aplenty over the weekend with two of the heaviest being Will Davison, who had just pulled an audacious pass on James Moffat, being clipped by him and smacking into the wall at turn eight ripping chunks from the car including a wheel.

Not to be out done, and in something never seen before, Jason Bright's car rolled and then launched sideways into the air before climbing up the safety fence and then slamming back down to earth again. Thankfully, neither driver was injured.

The opening round of the season also witnessed last year's new comers to the championship, Nissan and Mercedes AMG, step up to plate and challenge for top five places. It's looking good for the series and they all go again at the non-points scoring round at the Australian Grand Prix, March 13-16.

V8SC points after round one
1. Craig Lowndes 282
2. Fabian Coulthard 230
3. Shane van Gisbergen 221
4. Jamie Whincup 199
5. Rick Kelly 198
6. James Courtney 192
7. Mark Winterbottom 189

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