Motorsport: Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen squanders Supercars pole to finish third at Melbourne

Kiwi champion Shane van Gisbergen has let a golden opportunity slip through his fingers in a wild, shortened Supercars race that ended early under safety car at Melbourne.

After qualifying on pole for the second race of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix weekend, van Gisbergen has slipped to third, after losing his prime position on the very first turn and falling as far back as sixth.

Originally scheduled for 15 laps, the contest barely reached halfway, before it was called off.

The race complexion changed at the start-line, when rain began to fall and cars were required to pit for a tyre change after the second lap.

Despite a tyre advantage, van Gisbergen was passed by Will Brown, but the yellow flag stalled racing, after David Reynolds was shunted off the track at the first turn.

At the restart, the Kiwi tried to surge past his rival, but succeeded only in falling further back down the field, as cars diced two abreast.

As some drivers pitted early - some too early - he moved back into a podium position and retained that spot, even after he was one of the last to pit, but when Jack Le Brocq hit the wall, the yellow flag re-emerged and ultimately halted the race. 

Brodie Kostecki celebrated his first-ever Supercars victory in his fifth season, with James Courtney second and van Gisbergen third. Championship pacesetter Chaz Mostert finishd fifth, as Kostecki cut into  his lead.

Two-time defending champion van Gisbergen jumps from seventh to fourth on the standings, despite being stripped of his winning points from the season-opener.

Supercars have two more races scheduled at the Albert Park circuit this weekend - one each on Saturday and Sunday.