Whincup wins strategy battle in Townsville finale

Jamie Whincup was too strong in Race 22

Jamie Whincup was too strong in Race 22

Jamie Whincup continued to close in on the V8 Supercars Championship lead with an impressive victory in the final race of the Castrol Townsville 500.

The Red Bull Holden driver spent much of the 250km Race 22 locked in a battle with Garth Tander, despite rarely seeing his opponent on the road until the final stint.

Whincup was one of just six drivers to elect against taking his first pitstop under Safety Car on the opening lap.

The strategy saw Whincup push hard to gap the field during his opening two stints and ensure that he rejoined from his final stop just five seconds behind Tander, who led those on the opposing plan.

With 15 lap fresher tyres, it took less than 10 laps for Whincup to catch and pass his rival, ensuring that the Red Bull driver could cruise home over the final run to the flag.

Tander, who had made minor contact with Whincup during their brief battle, finished second ahead of a charging Shane van Gisbergen.

Jamie Whincup with the Race 22 trophy

Jamie Whincup with the Race 22 trophy

Like Tander, Van Gisbergen elected to pit on the opening lap, but was later switched to a three stop strategy that meant he had to come from behind in the closing stages.

James Courtney and Nick Percat finished fourth and fifth after both losing places to Van Gisbergen over the final 10 laps.

Championship leader Mark Winterbottom limited the points damage by driving from 11th on the grid to sixth on what was a disappointing weekend for Ford Performance Racing.

Fellow FPR drivers Chaz Mostert and David Reynolds were seventh and 12th respectively after punctures forced them into three-stop schedules.

Scott Pye scored a solid eighth for Dick Johnson Racing while Scott McLaughlin and Will Davison completed the top 10.

McLaughlin and Davison followed the same strategy as Whincup, but finished over 35s adrift of the winner, such was the Holden driver’s pace.

It was a disastrous race for Whincup’s team-mate Craig Lowndes, who ended up completing eight pitstops on the way to 23rd due to an overheating engine.

The #888 Holden will also be the subject of a post-race investigation after an early pitstop infringement.

Pole-man Jason Bright finished 17th after a drive-through penalty for spinning his rear wheels in his opening lap pitstop.

Team-mate Dale Wood and FPR’s Jack Perkins were the race’s only retirements after crashing out on the opening corner.

Winterbottom now leads the championship by 94 points over Whincup, with Fabian Coulthard a further 177 further adrift in third.

Lowndes drops behind Courtney and Van Gisbergen to sixth, 282 points behind Winterbottom.

Race 22 result

1 Red Bull Racing Australia Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 88 01:54:24.26
2 Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 88 01:54:25.22
3 Team Tekno VIP Petfoods Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 88 01:54:44.25
4 Holden Racing Team James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 88 01:54:44.59
5 Walkinshaw Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 88 01:54:45.30
6 Ford Pepsi Max Crew Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG 88 01:54:51.17
7 Ford Pepsi Max Crew Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG 88 01:54:51.76
8 Wilson Security Racing Scott Pye Ford Falcon FG 88 01:54:54.94
9 Valvoline Racing GRM Scott McLaughlin Volvo S60 88 01:55:01.00
10 Erebus Motorsport V8 Will Davison Mercedes E63 AMG 88 01:55:02.67
11 Norton Hornets Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 88 01:55:02.78
12 The Bottle-O Racing Team David Reynolds Ford Falcon FG 88 01:55:09.20
13 Supercheap Auto Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 88 01:55:15.15
14 Lockwood Racing Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VF 88 01:55:15.65
15 Erebus Motorsport V8 Lee Holdsworth Mercedes E63 AMG 88 01:55:16.26
16 Norton Hornets James Moffat Nissan Altima 88 01:55:16.58
17 Team BOC Jason Bright Holden Commodore VF 88 01:55:20.44
18 Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 88 01:55:27.69
19 Jack Daniel’s Racing Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 87 01:54:27.07
20 Wilson Security Racing David Wall Ford Falcon FG 87 01:54:29.02
21 Repair Management Aust Racing Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VF 87 01:54:40.55
22 Valvoline Racing GRM Robert Dahlgren Volvo S60 87 01:54:57.09
23 Red Bull Racing Australia Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 80 01:54:27.38
DNF Team JELD-WEN Jack Perkins Ford Falcon FG
DNF Team Advam/GB Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF

Championship standings after 22 races

1 Mark Winterbottom 1634
2 Jamie Whincup 1538
3 Fabian Coulthard 1361
4 Shane Van Gisbergen 1355
5 James Courtney 1354
6 Craig Lowndes 1352
7 Scott McLaughlin 1211
8 Garth Tander 1135
9 David Reynolds 1099
10 Chaz Mostert 1098
11 Jason Bright 1010
12 Michael Caruso 920
13 Will Davison 913
14 Lee Holdsworth 894
15 Scott Pye 876
16 James Moffat 873
17 Rick Kelly 854
18 Russell Ingall 854
19 Tim Slade 816
20 Nick Percat 790
21 David Wall 740
22 Dale Wood 649
23 Jack Perkins 610
24 Todd Kelly 576
25 Robert Dahlgren 437

VIDEO: Whincup takes lead from Tander

VIDEO: Van Gisbergen on late-race charge

VIDEO: Whincup wins Race 22

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