Holden's Jamie Whincup survived a day of V8 Supercars destruction on the streets of Surfers Paradise to extend his grip on the 2012 championship yesterday.
Whincup and French co-driver Sebastien Bourdais claimed victory in the opening race of the Gold Coast 600 after several competitors didn't even complete one lap of the 3.96km street circuit. The race took three starts to get under way after multi-car crashes on the line twice brought proceedings to a spectacular halt.
In the original race start, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe bogged Michael Caruso's No.33 Commodore, sparking a multi-car pile-up. Ex-Formula One driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and Simon Pagenaud collided before young American driver Ricky Taylor was launched onto his roof and wound up upside down just past the start line.
After a half-hour delay, chaos reigned again at the re-start with France's Nicholas Minassian stalling and his compatriot Franck Montagny clipping him to halt the race once again.
With six cars out, the race began for a third time and finally got away cleanly with Bourdais pulling away from pole position. The Frenchman handed over to Whincup and the defending champion stayed clear of trouble to take the win from a fast-finishing Jonathan Webb.
Ford driver Mark Winterbottom, who is paired with Australian IndyCar star Will Power this weekend, finished third to move back into equal second on the championship standings. Whincup's team-mate Craig Lowndes endured a tough day, starting from 13th after missing the top 10 shootout for pole and then finishing back in sixth to dent his title bid.
Ford star Will Davison's championship bid has likely come to an end. Team-mate Mika Salo had put their Falcon in front but Davison crashed less than a lap after taking over and they finished 19th.