R1 RACE 2 - SKAIFE REGAINS SUPERCAR SUPREMACYAnother lazy Sunday afternoon in the city of churches, another red-letter day for Mark Skaife and the Holden Racing Team.
Skaife continued the team's Adelaide love affair with victory in today's second 250km race - the first for Holden's new VY Commodore - leaving a trail of destruction and heartbreak in his wake.
A number of drivers fell agonisingly short of the line, while Max Wilson had to be rushed to hospital, injured when his windscreen shattered at high speed on the main straight.
The rampant red barons have never been defeated in Adelaide on Sunday, with Skaife securing the team's fifth straight Clipsal 500 title.
Castrol Perkins driver Steven Richards was second today, while new Team Brock recruit Paul Weel completed a Holden trifecta with the first podium result of his career.
Stone Brothers Racing firebrand Russell Ingall was originally awarded third, but was later relegated to 12th after stewards found his bump-and-pass on Greg Murphy late in the race was illegal.
Another record crowd of more than 70,000 had already made up its mind, booing Ingall as he apologetically accepted the trophy later taken from him.
But Skaife's win puts the reigning champion in an ominously familiar position: on top of the V8 Supercar series standings.
"We thought we would wheel out a better car than at the Grand Prix," Skaife said. "We were very encouraged yesterday, the car's speed was very good based on its first proper race meeting.
"We brought the B-game to the track yesterday, and the A-game today."
Though leading for most of the race, Skaife wasn't able to get into a rhythm as six safety car periods disrupted his charge.
"We had to sprint each time it was restarted, the tyres cool down and it is so easy to make a mistake," he said. "In those scenarios you drive it at ten-tenths. I drove it better today than yesterday, I made a few stuff-ups then but I was happy today."
Skaife's win was later soured when officials fined HRT $10,000 after a crewmember mounted the pit wall to celebrate as the car crossed the line.
Richards was much happier with his VY Commodore today after struggling to find balance in the first race. A second and third leaves him trailing Skaife by nine points in the championship.
After years as an under-funded Ford privateer, Weel was ecstatic with his drive from 14th to his first podium for the Holden-powered Team Brock.
"We really didn't have the car speed today," he said, "but with the normal last-minute Adelaide crashes we just picked up the pieces. It is very pleasing."
Those last-minute crashes during a frantic final sprint claimed a number of shattered victims, including race one winner Marcos Ambrose, Murphy and Steven Johnson.
Ambrose was third when suspension problems sent him back through the pack and, eventually, into the wall. Despite his win, today's failure leaves him 11th in the series standings.
Johnson was bound for the podium when, seven laps from the finish, his Dick Johnson Racing BA Falcon jumped out of gear and sent him hurtling into the concrete at the entry to the main straight.
"I was driving my heart out there and to have this happen just crushes you," Johnson said.
Johnson's teammate Wilson was taken to Adelaide's Wakefield Hospital with cuts and glass in his eyes from the shattered screen. He was believed to be in a comfortable condition as he waited to see an eye specialist.
The team blamed on-track debris for the frightening accident, possibly a stray piece of bodywork from another car.
Murphy, who lost nine positions following his spin, clashed with Ingall in pitlane after the race.
"He started coming across and I hit the [brakes] but he kept coming and I touched him," Ingall explained. "Once the brakes locked up I was a passenger.
"The officials have made their decision and we will cop it sweet."
Paul Radisich avoided the carnage to finish as the best-placed Ford driver in fourth, in his first championship event for Briggs Motorsport.
Ford Performance Racing's Craig Lowndes was also a standout, finishing a forgettable weekend on a high with a storming drive from the back of the grid to seventh.
Round two, at Victoria's Phillip Island Raceway, is in three weeks time.
Race two results:
V8 Supercar Championship Series standings:
--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)
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