Whincup extends championship lead
Jamie Whincup has taken the Race 22 win at Phillip Island after a fraught and interesting 200km event today.
The TeamVodafone driver led every lap of the 44 lap race, beating Rick Kelly and Garth Tander.
After a frustrating past month where his championship lead had slowly diminished, Whincup bounced back at the Island, silencing the critics and asserting himself as the clear title favourite with just four races of the title remaining. He now leads the title over Toll Holden Racing Team’s Will Davison by 122 points.
“I couldn’t be happier with the weekend,” Whincup said.
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“The pole position was great, and then a very straight forward race. I was able to hold a gap. Rick (Kelly) and I were battling flat out, and the 1.5 second gap I had at the end was accumulated over the last 20 laps.”
Jack Daniel’s Racing’s Kelly finished in a clear second place, crossing the line nearly 10 seconds clear of third placed Tander, although he thought that his JDR Commodore could have been better over the weekend.
“I’m a little disappointed with my qualifying efforts. We should have been in around third,” he said.
“It was a little oversteery in the race, but we managed to keep the tail behind the front of the car.”
Tander secured his third place when he passed Steven Johnson at MG corner on lap 35. Johnson lost another spot to his Jim Beam Racing team-mate James Courtney less than a lap later.
Courtney eventually finished fourth, while Johnson was forced into pit lane soon after a major lock-up at turn four which delaminated a tyre.
Fifth went to weekend fast man Jason Bright, ahead of Shane van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes, Paul Dumbrell, Fabian Coulthard and Michael Caruso.
Championship challenger Will Davison was 11th, salvaging points after a disappointing race.
There was certainly no lack of action during the race, highlighted by a spirited (and at times spiteful) clash between Craig Lowndes and Jason Bargwanna. The pair spent a number of laps in close quarters, delivering a great, hard dice with lots of aggressive racing.
Inevitably, something had to give, with Lowndes unloading Bargs on the exit of turn four.
There was other action as well, including a monumental Safety Car execution error (see separate story soon).
It was a disappointing race for Mark Winterbottom. The Orrcon FPR driver was involved in a clash with SP Tool’s steerer Shane van Gisbergen on the third lap, sending Winterbottom spearing through the gravel at the fast turn one. The incident is being investigated post-race.
Winterbottom rejoined at the tail of the field but was soon out when his engine overheated.
The next round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Barbagallo raceway in two weeks.
RACE 22 – RESULTS
1. #1 Jamie Whincup
2. #15 Rick Kelly
3. #2 Garth Tander
4. #18 James Courtney
5. #25 Jason Bright
6. #9 Shane Van Gisbergen
7. #888 Craig Lowndes
8. #10 Paul Dumbrell
9. #111 Fabian Coulthard
10. #34 Michael Caruso