SVG wins shortened race after 12 car pile-up
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Shane van Gisbergen emerged the winner of the opening race at Symmons Plains after a 12-car accident triggered a lengthy red flag period.
The melee started with mid-pack contact between Fabian Coulthard and Rick Kelly, causing a chain reaction that spun Garth Tander's Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden in the middle of the field.
Tim Slade, Nick Percat, Tim Blanchard, James Moffat, Scott Pye, James Courtney, Alex Rullo, Will Davison, Taz Douglas and Simona De Silvestro were also involved in the ensuing carnage.
The race had started in wet but sunny conditions, severely limiting vision for the drivers, particularly on the straights.
Davison and Kelly’s cars appeared to cop the worst of the impacts, with the Tekno driver being taken to hospital for tests complaining of lower back pain.
Several drivers are likely to be spectators for the remainder of the weekend due to the extent of the damage to their cars.
Although unsure as to exactly how the accident started, Tander confirmed that contact between Coulthard and Kelly ahead of him contributed.
The GRM Commodore was subsequently spun by Cameron Waters, after which point the others piled in.
“I could see something was happening with Coulthard and Rick and then I’ve been hit in the rear and I was sideways with the whole field coming over me,” said Tander.
“Talking to Sladey in the medical centre there were probably two or three separate things going on.
“Unfortunately there were a lot of big hits, including James (Moffat) into mine. We’ll have to see how bad the damage is when we get the cars back.”
Kelly confirmed he had a side-to-side confrontation with Coulthard which damaged his Nissan before more contact from Tander and Davison.
“I got next to Fabian and got run straight into the fence,” explained Kelly.
“I’m not sure what happened, he could of got hit or had someone on his right-hand side.
“But it destroyed the left side of my car so I was in limp-home mode on the left-hand side of the track.
"Then we got hit again (by Tander) and ended up being hit again by Will who came barrelling down on the left.
"It’s definitely the biggest hit I’ve had in the 15 years I’ve been out there."
Waters, whose car escaped damage, added that the incident unfolded at rapid speed.
"I saw Fabian and Kelly get into each other and everyone braked in front of me trying to avoid the crash," he said.
"It all happened so quick no one really knew what to do. It’s just a shame that there’s so much damage."
After a 50 minute red flag period, a final lap was eventually completed under Safety Car with van Gisbergen leading home Triple Eight team-mates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
Before the accident, Chaz Mostert had made the best of the starts to lead the opening lap before running off at Turn 2 on lap two, handing the lead to Van Gisbergen.
Scott McLaughlin was second but went to pitlane under the red flag instead of lining up on the grid, ensuring he ended up 13th in the final result.
David Reynolds took the flag under Safety Car in fourth ahead of Mostert, Jason Bright, Mark Winterbottom, Todd Kelly, Waters and Coulthard.