In a drama-packed first hit-out for the 2012 V8 Supercar season the 22-year-oldfrom Aucklandran as high as sixth in the early part of the race before ending up 11th at the flag.
Early on the unforgiving concrete walls claimed James Courtney and Jason Bright, bringing out the Safety Car for an extended period, and later defending series champ Jamie Whincup ended up pipping long-time race leader Will Davison for the win after Davison's car ran low of fuel.
In a graphic indication of what-might-have-been Whincup and van Gisbergen ran nose-to-tail for three laps early in the race (after the pair pitted on the same lap) but that was as close as they got.
Though they again came in for their second scheduled stop on the same lap (lap 40) Whincup was able to complete - and win - the race with just three stops, the third and final one on lap 66, while van Gisbergen was brought back in twice, once - just five laps after the third stop - then again on lap 66 (of 78).
Shane van Gisbergen – Car #9 SP Tools Racing:
"I know the car has good speed but we just didn’t get there today. I had the fastest lap time of the race by lap 19, but that meant nothing by the end of the day.”
"I have a great Qualifying car but at the moment it’s not so good over a race distance. Hopefully we can qualify strongly again tomorrow and then get everything right for Race 2.”
New signing, Lee Holdsworth ended up the best of the three Stone Brothers Racing drivers, crossing the line in fifth place, while Tim Slade finished 12th, one spot behind van Gisbergen.
Action at the Clipsal 500 meeting continues on Sunday with a second 20 minute qualifying session in the minute and 78-lap/250km race in the afternoon.
Adelaide Clipsal 500 Race 1 (78 laps)
1. Jamie Whincup 01:56:34.2914
2. Will Davison 01:56:39.8163
3. Garth Tander 01:56:55.0784
4. Craig Lowndes 01:57:13.5690
5. Lee Holdsworth 01:57:14.0389
6. Fabian Coulthard 01:57:15.1127
7. Rick Kelly 01:57:16.0684
8. Todd Kelly 01:57:16.8003
9. Mark Winterbottom 01:57:18.8675
10. Steven Johnson 01:57:20.0157
11. Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Racing Ford Falcon) 01:57:21.3316