The Bend has produced a twist to the Supercars championship race.
Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen has snatched the series lead from Ford’s Scott McLaughlin after pole-sitter Jamie Whincup won Sunday’s 200km race at the maiden Supercars round at Tailem Bend, an hour’s drive from Adelaide.
Seven-time series champion Whincup took out The Bend SuperSprint’s 41-lap Sunday finale, more than 11 seconds ahead of van Gisbergen with Holden’s Dave Reynolds third.
But Whincup’s teammate van Gisbergen was the big mover on the tough 18-turn 4.95km track, taking the series lead by 19 points after leapfrogging McLaughlin, who finished a distant 10th on Sunday.
McLaughlin had a slim 41-point advantage before Sunday’s race, which was watched by 17,100 fans, extending overall attendance to 41,250 for the debut three-day round.
Van Gisbergen had already whittled the lead from fellow Kiwi McLaughlin, who started the round with an 89-point advantage, by winning Saturday’s 120km race.
McLaughlin was sixth in the opening race.
Van Gisbergen had won four of the past five races on the Supercars calendar.
Defending series champion Whincup claimed his fourth win of the year – and 112th of his glittering career – to remain at third in the championship.
His last win was in Townsville in early July.
Whincup was never threatened in Sunday’s race, only relinquishing the lead when he took a second pit stop after 23 laps and came out of the garage in second behind Ford’s Mark Winterbottom.
But normal service resumed when Winterbottom pitted after lap 30.
The Bend created havoc in practice and qualifying as drivers slid off arguably the calendar’s most technical course but Sunday’s race, remarkably, didn’t feature a safety car.
Three drivers in the 28-strong field failed to finish Sunday’s race.