Last-lap failure costs Stanaway top rookie spot

Richie Stanaway was robbed of the top rookie honour from today's opening leg of the Adelaide 500 by a last-lap drivetrain failure.

Last-lap failure costs Stanaway top rookie spot

The GP2 race winner was the class of the highly-rated Supercars rookie field throughout the majority of the 250-kay opener, running inside the Top 20 even after being first hit by fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard on a Lap 55 restart and then ending up in the wall thanks to a tangle with Todd Hazelwood and James Golding a lap later.

In the end the Tickford Ford driver was undone by a final-lap drivetrain failure, which left him stranded after being on for P18 and best of the rookies on debut.

"We had a drivetrain failure going through the first chicane," he said. "Something had come loose in the drivetrain and it was pretty clunky for the last 20 laps, and then it’s broken finally.

"It’s a shame that it couldn’t have gone for another minute or so. I had no drive at all so I just pulled it up at Turn 4."

Stanaway added that he was perplexed by both the run-in with Coulthard, and then the rookie pile-up on the next lap.

"I thought he actually got hit from behind because I couldn’t see any other reason why he’d be into me so hard," he said.

"He got into my rear pretty hard before he got on the brakes. I don’t know if he’s tried to send me off or something, but then he’s come up the inside with the tyres locked and got into the door.

"I braked deep, because when everyone is tight on the first laps you have to do that to conserve your position, and there was no room to go up the inside.

"Everyone was racing pretty hard. The unfortunate thing was I didn’t want to be aggressive, I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t trying to dive-bomb anyone or be desperate to keep my position, I just wanted to finish, but I had people around me who were in a different mood."

When asked about the incident post-race, Coulthard, who himself endured a difficult opening day of the new season, was dismissive.

"I shouldn't have been back there anyway," he told TV crews.

"Tough day We tried the best we could, but we're just struggling. Poor qualifying puts you back there. Chin up, we'll move on."

Thanks to Stanaway's late retirement the best of the rookies ended up being Anton De Pasquale, a lap down in 19th.

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