James Courtney finished leg one of the Clipsal 500 on Saturday in tenth place after an incident with Jason Richards ruined his chances of his first V8 Supercar race victory.

Courtney was in the box seat early in the 78-lap race, making a cracking start to lead the 28-car field into the first corner.

Garth Tander got by the JELD-WEN Motorsport Falcon on lap one but Courtney reclaimed the top spot on lap six and opened up a commanding lead, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap seven.

The JELD-WEN Motorsport driver then led the race until lap 41 when Richards, going a lap down, tangled with Courtney in the chicane. The number-four BF Ford Falcon suffered damage to the front right of the car and was forced to make an extra stop for new front tyres.

Courtney rejoined the race in 11th position and dropped as far back as 18th following his compulsory fuel stop five laps later. Although the Gold-Coast based driver fought back in his battered Falcon, he eventually had to settle for tenth.

"That was just shattering," he reflected. "To be out in front like that, doing it pretty easily and then have it taken out of your hands like that; I just can't believe it.

"At this level of competition you expect better driving than that. I'm just so disappointed for me and more so for the JELD-WEN guys that have worked so hard to get us in this position. They gave me a great car this weekend that was more than capable of winning."

Shane van Gisbergen meanwhile had a solid debut at the Adelaide Parklands circuit in the sister Stone Brothers Racing machine, finishing the race where he started, in 13th position.

The 18 year-old Kiwi worked away steadily throughout the race to pull back the places he lost after making a tentative start. The SP Tools Racing driver impressed, putting in the fourth fastest race lap in the field.

"We just wanted to be consistent and stay straight today and we did, we had a really good race," said Shane. "I probably wasn't as aggressive at the start as I should have been but we stuck with the front bunch.

"Today was definitely one of the toughest and longest races that I have done. I knew it was going to be even harder when my cool suit failed on the grid. The legs started to numb up and it got hard towards the end but I wasn't going to give up.

"We've got a bit to do on the car tonight; we think we can make it better for tomorrow. The goal is to bring it home straight again and see if we can pick up a few more places."

"For a first timer at Adelaide, Shane did a great job, putting in the fourth fastest race lap," concluded SBR team boss, Ross Stone. "He had a particularly tough job considering his cool suit pump froze on the grid; that's a pretty tough introduction to this place.

"James set the quickest lap today and proved that the SBR cars have the speed to win here but unfortunately it wasn't to be today. Both the JELD-WEN Motorsport and the SP Tools Racing Falcons are very strong and should come through with a good result tomorrow."

 

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