Rachael Finch escaped a dramatic crash unscathed after flipping her car in the first race of the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge, with Robbie McEwen cruising to victory over a determined Brett Emerton.
Finch had been locked in a fierce battle mid-way through the field with Clint Stanaway before a slight nudge by the Channel Nine Sports Reporter caused her to spin out and lose control on turn ten.
Being the event’s first rollover since Luke Darcy in 2008, safety crews were on the scene in seconds, checking that the former Miss Universe Australia and television presenter was safe. All-New Mazda3’s five star safety rating, advanced SKYACTIV-Body, along with CAMS and FIA approved roll cage, race seat and six point safety harness did their jobs to perfection with Finch exiting the car with a smile, waving to the cheering crowd.
“I felt really comfortable and confident in the position I was in, I was having loads of fun,” Finch said.
“All of a sudden something clipped me from the back and the next thing I knew I was on my head spinning around in circles! I felt completely relaxed; I knew the safety team were coming to get me. I’m just disappointed that I have to start from the back of the grid tomorrow!”
The front of the field featured equally as spectacular racing as McEwen and Emerton went bumper-to-bumper for the entire race, McEwen across the line just eight seconds ahead of the former Socceroo.
“It was a massive battle between Brett (Emerton) and I today. We knew it was going to be that way after the first day of training at Sandown as we were driving almost identical practice times,” McEwen said.
“Today I was just waiting for an opportunity to pass, but also had to try not to hit him as we both really want to race tomorrow.”
Rob Mills and Torah Bright also locked horns in some emphatic driving as they jostled for third spot, Mills just edging out Bright by just six seconds in what made for spectacular race viewing.
Bright continued her dominance amongst the females in the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge, followed closely by Catriona Rowntree (7th) and Lydia Lassila (8th).
The Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge continues tomorrow with the second and final race of the weekend.
Race 1 Results
- 1. Robbie McEwen
- 2. Brett Emerton
- 3. Rob Mills
- 4. Torah Bright
- 5. Tim Robards
- 6. Tommy Little
- 7. Catroina Rowntree
- 8. Lydia Lassila
- 9. Maz Compton
- 10. Adam D’Sylva
- 11. Clint Stanaway
- 12. Scherri-Lee Biggs
- 13. Lauren Phillips
- 14. Dave Thornton
- 15. Carley Boorman
- 16. Nathan Brown
- 17. Megan Washington
- DNF Rachael Finch
- DNF Sam Mac