Mark Winterbottom extended his V8 Supercars Championship lead with back-to-back victories at the Castrol Edge Townsville 400.
Winterbottom took the chequered flag in Sunday’s 200km finale three seconds clear of the Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney, who charged in the closing stages to demote long-time leader David Reynolds to third.
Starting from fifth after a lacklustre Shootout lap, an early first stop ultimately set up the win for Winterbottom as the bulk of the field again ran the conventional soft-hard-soft tyre strategy.
Making his first stop on lap 10 of 70, the #5 Ford continued to run fifth during the middle stint, before leaping into contention when the second stops unfolded just prior to halfway.
Winterbottom emerged on the tail of stablemate Reynolds and, with seven lap fresher tyres, applied consistent pressure to the race leader.
Reynolds eventually locked a tyre and ran wide at Turn 2 on lap 52, allowing Winterbottom to slip down the inside at the following corner.
“The car on hards wasn’t the best,” reflected Winterbottom afterward, “but the boys did a tweak in the pitstop and it was a rocket after that.”
Prodrive again appeared set for a one-two-three heading into the final 15 laps, before Chaz Mostert and then Reynolds were picked off by Courtney.
The 2010 champion was one of a handful to take advantage of a mid-race Safety Car to run a three-stop strategy, which ultimately helped his progression from 16th on the grid.
Courtney survived an intense dice with eventual fourth place finisher Garth Tander on his way through the field in the dying laps; the team-mates making minor contact during the fight.
Sixth place finisher Mostert had made his strategy play at the first stops, short-filling in an ultimately failed attempt to take the lead from Reynolds.
He eventually shook out from the second stops in third, but an early tyre lock-up hurt his progress to the chequered flag; allowing Courtney, Tander and eventually Jamie Whincup through.
Seventh through 10th at the flag were filled by Lee Holdsworth, Andre Heimgartner, Craig Lowndes and Todd Kelly.
The Safety Car had been called shortly after the first stops in order to retrieve debris from Scott McLaughlin’s Volvo, which spat a power steering belt on the way to retirement.
It was a miserable end for the pole-sitter, who had struggled to hold his own with the Prodrive entries in the early stages.
Fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard also struck trouble, finishing 13th after a penalty for an infringement at his first pitstop.
Result: V8 Supercars Race 17, Townsville
|1||Pepsi Max Crew||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||70||01:30:50.2571|
|2||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:30:53.1798|
|3||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG/X||70||01:30:56.4196|
|4||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:00.6737|
|5||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:04.4173|
|6||Pepsi Max Crew||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||70||01:31:05.5174|
|7||Walkinshaw Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:05.9539|
|8||Super Black Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Falcon FG/X||70||01:31:07.2702|
|9||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:10.5251|
|10||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||70||01:31:13.6358|
|11||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||70||01:31:14.4761|
|12||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:14.7769|
|13||Freightliner Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:16.7551|
|14||Supercheap Auto Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:17.4838|
|15||Repair Management Aust Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:21.6206|
|16||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||70||01:31:21.9675|
|17||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||70||01:31:24.3523|
|18||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:24.9305|
|19||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||70||01:31:26.3400|
|20||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:33.6783|
|21||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||70||01:31:36.2202|
|22||Wilson Security Racing GRM||David Wall||Volvo S60||70||01:31:53.3167|
|23||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh||Mercedes E63 AMG||70||01:32:01.1038|
|24||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Mercedes E63 AMG||69||01:31:55.2162|
|DNF||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||19||24:37.1206|
|9||Shane Van Gisbergen||1063|