Jamie Whincup’s bid for a seventh Supercars title has suffered a major blow, with contact on the opening lap of the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
Whincup started the race leading Scott McLaughlin by 30 points, but his Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore has gone 13 laps down.
From fifth on the grid, Whincup looked down the inside of Michael Caruso’s Nissan at Turn 2, and looked to stay alongside as the field headed down Shortland Esplanade for the first time.
On the inside at Turn 3, Whincup ran out of room as Caruso turned in, the contact breaking the Holden’s right-front steering arm and lower control arm.
Stewards elected not to take any further action on the clash.
Whincup limped his way back to pitlane and and rejoined the race on lap 14 in 24th place after repairs in the garage.
“Far from ideal, sitting in the pits,” Whincup said.
“We’ll dump a bunch of points today and it’s going to be tough from here.
“I thought we could go two wide with car 23, but he shut the gate, broke the steering and that’s the end of us.
“Unfortunate, it is what it is, we’ll push on.”
Whincup would need to complete 72 laps to be classified as a finisher and record championship points in the penultimate race of the season.