A spectacular engine blow-up for James Moffat’s Wilson Security GRM Volvo S60 has thrown strategies into chaos with Red Bull’s Shane van Gisbergen being forced to double-stack behind his team-mate Jamie Whincup and drop from second to 11th place in the race.
He then pitted again to top off, dropping to 18th but ensuring he can race at full pace for the rest of the race.
Van Gisbergen had been comfortably sitting behind Whincup as the race sped beyond 100 laps with the front of the field concentrating fuel saving.
But Moffat’s lap 109 blow-up meant pit-stops for a significant portion of the field and reduced concerns about fuel economy, taking at least one of the fuel stops still required.
Defending Virgin Australia Supercars Champion Mark Winterbottom jumped from two spots through the pit stop cycle, passing both Van Gisbergen and DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard.
Moffat’s fiery blow-up came on Mountain Straight without any warning and will be of concern for the sister Volvo of Scott McLaughlin/David Wall, which runs sixth in the race, or fourth in adjusted terns as the first two cars on the road – the Pye/D’Alberto Falcon and Pither/Stanaway Falcon – elected not to stop.
Adding further complication, dark clouds are gathering around the circuit, signaling impending rain.
The field only went green for one lap before the safety car appeared once more for Andre Heimgartner’s stranded LDM Commodore.
Many cars again pitted, as strategies diverged and it became clear some teams were committed to a ‘full rich’ attack to the finish while other focussed on fuel conservation run.