Percat claims farcical Clipsal 500

Local driver Nick Percat has claimed a shock victory at the Clipsal 500 on Sunday in a V8 Supercars race lashed by wild storms.

The event in Adelaide was reduced to a lottery by the weather, with officials beginning and finishing the race in farce.

Organisers and teams duelled on whether the race had even started, and the event finished well short of its listed 250 kilometres due to long periods under the safety car.

Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye finished in second and third but were stripped of their podium finishes when officials decided they had not completed minimum fuel drops.

In their place, Michael Caruso and Garth Tander were elevated to podium positions.

Pye was elated by the result, jumping on top of his Commodore to celebrate in front of an emphatic home crowd.

“This is unbelievable,” the 27-year-old said.

“I’ve watched this since I was in a pram.”

The race was two hours of madness, with barely a driver in the field not having an off or an incident.

Leading contenders Chaz Mostert and James Courtney crashed out on the high-speed turn eight.

Earlier, Shane Van Gisbergen bumped Courtney out of the lead while Garth Tander turned around Jamie Whincup.

The weight of water swamped the track and caused teams to lose power in their garages.

In racing conditions unseen at the season opener, polesitter Fabian Coulthard, Shane Van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes, Courtney, Tander, Rick Kelly, Scott McLaughlin and finally Percat all took turns to lead the race.

After 42 laps of the scheduled 78, the field followed the safety car into pit lane as thunder rumbled in the skies.

The Volvo man sat on top of the pack during the lengthy red flag delay, which teams used to ponder the race’s fuel requirements.

Almost the entire field had not completed their mandated fuel drop of 140 litres, which put a question mark on the standings.

When the field resumed with less than 10 minutes until the mandated finish, drivers were torn between finishing on top and filling their tanks with fuel to comply with guidelines.

It allowed Percat to make a late run to the top, winning his first solo race and becoming the first South Australian winner of the race.

Caruso’s second place means he gives Nissan a series leader after one meet, ahead of Tander and Whincup.

Curious rulings and manic racing mean challenges, appeals and penalties appeal certain.

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