Jamie Whincup’s bid to dominate the V8 Supercars championship from the opening round is in tatters after a tyre puncture ruined his perfect day at the Clipsal 500.
After Whincup took race one with a minimum of fuss – moving to equal second in the sport’s biggest race winners list in the process – the six-time champ looked to be sailing to a second victory in as many races.
But the Red Bull Racing driver came unstuck in the final stages of race two, suffering a puncture that ended his hopes of a Clipsal clean sweep.
Instead, Fabian Coulthard took the race two win ahead of James Courtney and Craig Lowndes.
The late drama was in contrast with a straight-forward race one, which Whincup led from start to finish to defeat Chaz Mostert and Coulthard.
Mostert, who overtook Coulthard after neat work in the pit lane, had a late chance to steal victory after a yellow flag reset the race with one lap remaining.
But Whincup held the Bathurst winner at bay in a race where the highest drama occurred in the warm-up lap.
Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin was forced to run from his car after a faulty oil pump leaked under his car and caught fire.
Forced to sit out the first race, the Kiwi speedster showed his overenthusiasm in race two when he started on the front of the grid with Whincup.
McLaughlin burst out of the blocks to overtake the pole sitter but was ruled to have false started.
A 10-second pit-lane penalty pushed the leader back to ninth, though he was able to recover to finish third.
However, McLaughlin was demoted back to ninth with a post-race 10-second penalty applied for not taking his pit-stop penalty correctly.
Team boss Garry Rogers was joined by Red Bull boss Roland Dane in condemning race officials for the second punishment.
Dane also said officials “should have known better” and cleaned up debris at turn eight, which he believed caused Whincup’s puncture.
Ford’s Mostert suffered at the same corner earlier in the race, crashing into the wall and retiring after three laps.
Coulthard’s victory makes him the early championship leader, ahead of Lowndes and Courtney.
V8 SUPERCARS: CLIPSAL 500 RACE ONE RESULTS
1. Jamie Whincup (Holden)
2. Chaz Mostert (Ford)
3. Fabian Coulthard (Holden)
4. Craig Lowndes (Holden)
5. Mark Winterbottom (Ford)
V8 SUPERCARS: CLIPSAL 500 RACE TWO RESULTS
1. Fabian Coulthard (Holden)
2. James Courtney (Holden)
3. Craig Lowndes (Holden)
4. Garth Tander (Holden)
5. Jason Bright (Holden)