Battle of the V8 Bulls begins in Melbourne

He doesn’t have any championship points to prove it, but Shane van Gisbergen showed on Friday he’s not interested in playing second fiddle to new Holden teammate Jamie Whincup this V8 Supercars season.

The Kiwi driver beat out Whincup to win the first of four exhibition races at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, ahead of Ford gun Chaz Mostert in third.

It was his first for Red Bull Racing, and the team’s first at Albert Park since 2011.

“It’s really cool to get one on the board even though it doesn’t count statistically,” van Gisbergen said.

“We had really good speed in Adelaide but struggled for comfort.

“It feels a lot better now and … more and more like home.”

Whincup started on pole position for the first time at the event and had the lead until lap five of 12, when van Gisbergen took advantage of a rare mistake from the six-time champ on a safety car restart.

Having not had a teammate in three years, van Gisbergen admitted he wasn’t sure what to do when he caught Whincup.

“But it was clean and fair,” he added.

“We’ve been told what’s expected of us. I really enjoyed it … and I’m sure it’ll go the other way sometimes as well.”

Van Gisbergen sits third on the drivers’ championship, having finished third, fifth and 10th at the Clipsal 500.

Whincup is second overall following his win and podium in Adelaide.

Races at Albert Park are the only ones on the V8 calendar that begin with a rolling start.

But unlike previous years, this weekend’s sprints start when the red lights go out instead of at the behest of the polesitter.

Reigning series champion Mark Winterbottom, Holden veteran Jason Bright, and Nissan’s Todd Kelly were all victims of the tight racing that followed.

Winterbottom was nudged and spun by DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard on lap one, sending him to the back of the pack. He finished 21st.

Bright was also turned at the first corner and later retired with damage, while Kelly suffered a mechanical failure and ended his afternoon early.

The second of four sprint races begins at 6.20pm (AEDT)

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