Despite his mammoth lead, V8 Supercars championship leader Mark Winterbottom was always wary of this weekend’s Gold Coast 600 event.
Labelling the treacherous 2.98km Surfers Paradise one of two “danger rounds” left in the four remaining in 2015, the Ford star’s fears were realised on Saturday.
Holden’s Shane Van Gisbergen celebrated a day to remember as he claimed his first victory of the year ahead of Ford’s David Reynolds and Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes.
Lowndes’s high finish was significant, with Winterbottom finishing 24th after a disastrous pitlane release a third of the way into the race.
After jumping into his Prodrive Racing Australia Falcon to take over from co-driver Steve Owen, Winterbottom was unaware of the presence of Garth Tander’s Holden when he was released from the pit bay by his team.
Winterbottom couldn’t help but hit the side of Tander’s car, ending his race before it had even begun.
The subsequent repairs and a pitlane penalty left Winterbottom visibly upset as he was left to circulate several laps down for the majority of the 102-lap event.
The result means Winterbottom’s 399-point lead heading into the race has been whittled down to 306 points in a single day.
Up front, the Tekno Autosports entry of Van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb was unstoppable.
The pair, who won on the streets of Surfers Paradise last year, were never challenged as they finished a second and a half ahead of Reynolds.
Lowndes came in third after threatening to overtake Reynolds in the race’s closing stages with Tander hot on their heels in fourth.
Defending champion Jamie Whincup could only limp home in 24th position after his co-driver Paul Dumbrell was involved in an early incident.
The Gold Coast 600 wraps up on Sunday with a second 300km race.