27 Aug 2018
Red Bull Holden Racing Team stars Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup have delivered an impressive first weekend at Australia's newest track at Tailem Bend south-east of Adelaide, with the pair claiming victories in Race 22 and 23 of the 2018 Supercars Championship.
Whincup ended teammate Van Gisbergen's five-strong winning streak in South Australia (he’s won all races at the Adelaide 500 since 2016), after getting ahead for the win in Race 23 of The Bend Supersprint.
But despite the end to his streak, Van Gisbergen has taken the Supercars Championship lead - the Kiwi has now finished first or second in the last seven races, and on the podium in 10 of the last 11.
The new 18-turn, 4.95km circuit presented a challenge for many of the teams, with some of the biggest names on the track going cross country throughout the weekend.
After finishing just off the podium in Race 22, Whincup observed his race pace was not on the mark of his victorious teammate.
"The track was challenging, it’s a challenging circuit,” Whincup said.
“The dirt is all part of the challenge but there’s no excuses. We had an unlucky day, you make your own luck in this game and we just weren’t quick enough."
However, the seven-time Supercars champion had a flawless run the next day, driving from pole to the win.
“I know it sounds cliched, but at the end of the day we did our homework to make sure we came here strong and then worked really hard during the weekend." Whincup said.
Former series leader Scott McLaughlin had a challenging weekend on the new track in his Shell V-Power Ford, failing to finish on the podium at all across the weekend, with teammate Fabian Coulthard also battling to make gains.
“We tried every trick in our book this weekend, and unfortunately, we just didn’t get there," said McLaughlin after finishing tenth in Race 23.
McLaughlin's results over the weekend saw him lose his championship lead, with Van Gisbergen now 19 points ahead (on 2778), followed by McLaughlin with 2759, and Jamie Whincup in third with 2416.
The 2019 Adelaide 500 will take place from 28 February-3 March 2019 in Adelaide, South Australia.