At the first ever race on the streets of Townville in 2009, Jamie Whincup won from ninth position. Yesterday’s race-winner lined on ninth place for today’s second and final race of the Sucrogen Townsville 400, and repeated the feat with another charging drive to hold off team-mate Craig Lowndes for victory.
It was all set for another closely-fought race after the earlier qualifying contest that netted David Reynolds his maiden pole position and the Ford Performance Racing team another 1-2-3 on the grid.
The youngster was able to convert pole into the race lead as the pack funnelled into Turn 1, and he clung on until the seventh lap, when he was overtaken by Tekno Autosport driver Jonathon Webb, who – along with James Courtney – was one of two drivers who opted to start the race on Dunlop’s soft-compound tyres.
Webb and Courtney had quickly managed to slice their way up the order and assumed an early 1-2 before the first round of pit stops. Ultimately the strategy wouldn’t quite pay off in the way that either had hoped, with both losing track position mid-race as their rivals switched to the softer rubber while, conversely, they had to use the harder tyres. Webb would finish a solid eighth, while Courtney would get involved in an unnecessary contact at Turn 2 and slipped with fifteenth.
Out at the front, it was Reynolds who led from team-mates Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison after the first round of pit stops, with the trio hotly pursued by TeamVodafone runners Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, who had quietly worked his way up to fifth position.
The quintet was never more than a few tenths apart, and the order remained the same until Lowndes accidentally triggered his pit lane speed limiter, a momentary gaffe that allowed Whincup through into fourth place.
The second and final round of pit stops proved the decider. Lowndes and Winterbottom blinked first on Lap 42, with the former champion narrowly leapfrogging the Ford driver with some slick pit work.
One lap later, Reynolds led Davison and Whincup into the pits for some more fuel and tyres, but it was the polesitter who came off worst, emerging behind Whincup and Davison in the turnaround, which became fifth behind Winterbottom when they rejoined the circuit.
With Whincup and Lowndes now leading a TeamVodafone 1-2, the pair began to slowly pull clear while Winterbottom and Reynolds were held up behind Davison. With no team orders in either camp, it would up to the drivers to sort it out among themselves for top honours.
An extra moment of tension came with the introduction of a late safety car period – brought about by Fabian Coulthard stopping his Brad Jones Racing Holden in an awkward position on the track. The racing resumed with just ten laps left and the field nicely compressed.
No doubt seething from his earlier finger trouble, Lowndes was pushing hard and keen to claim a repeat of his win at Darwin where he overtook Whincup in the closing stages. Twice he managed to get by the defending champion, only for the wily Whincup to use the old ‘crossover’ trick and out-drag him at the corner exit. The pair came close to swapping paint, but Whincup ultimately prevailed to claim back-to-back wins and build a further cushion in his championship lead.
Third place went to Davison, while Garth Tander managed to scramble up into fourth place, benefitting from the field compression brought about by the safety car to get ahead of Reynolds and then Winterbottom in the final laps.
Reynolds would be disappointed with sixth place, while the top ten was completed by Shane van Gisbergen, Jonathon Webb, Michael Patrizi, and Jason Bright.
Jacques Villeneuve’s one-off V8 Supercars outing resulted in him managing to see the chequered flag, albeit in 24th place and a lap adrift after a fairly quiet run in the Pepsi Max Crew Holden.
The teams and drivers now have a four-week break until resuming the championship at Ipswich Raceway in early August.
2012 V8 Supercars Sucrogen Townsville 400 – Race 1 Result (72 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||72||1:33:49.2414|
|2.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||72||+ 1.8437|
|3.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||72||+ 5.3649|
|4.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||72||+ 6.9949|
|5.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||72||+ 8.1286|
|6.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||72||+ 8.4670|
|7.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||72||+ 11.4034|
|8.||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||72||+ 12.5865|
|9.||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||72||+ 13.2060|
|10.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||72||+ 13.5266|
|11.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing||72||+ 14.3787|
|12.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||72||+ 14.6334|
|13.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||72||+ 15.6934|
|14.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||72||+ 16.0879|
|15.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||72||+ 20.2601|
|16.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||72||+ 20.6962|
|17.||Taz Douglas||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||72||+ 21.5998|
|18.||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||72||+ 22.0601|
|19.||David Wall||Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing||72||+ 22.9822|
|20.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||72||+ 24.2475|
|21.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||72||+ 25.0567|
|22.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing||72||+ 26.4256|
|23.||James Moffat||Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing||72||+ 26.8380|
|24.||Jacques Villeneuve||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||71||+ 1 lap|
|25.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||66||+ 6 laps|
|26.||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||62||+ 10 laps|
|DNF.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||44||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing||7||Damage|