V8 Supercars championship leader Jamie Whincup took victory in the opening race of the SkyCity Triple Crown at Hidden Valley this afternoon. The Red Bull Racing Australia pilot passed David Reynolds on the opening lap of the second sixty-kilometre leg of Race 17, and never looked back to take his seventh win of the season.
In a typically calculated race for the reigning title-winner, Whincup led when it counted and consequently continued what has become an extremely impressive 2013 campaign.
Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen made a late charge for victory in the closing laps, however it was too little too late for the Tekno Autosport pilot, who eventually finished second. Van Gisbergen showed impressive race-craft after qualifying back in eighth, finishing only three-tenths off Whincup at the chequered flag.
James Courtney managed to avoid sustaining heavy damage throughout the second leg of the race, and rounded out the podium in one of HRT’s best results thus far in 2013. He was followed home by Jonathon Webb in the second Tekno Autosport entry, who took fourth in a stellar drive from sixteenth on the grid. Rick Kelly completed the top 5 in the best result to date for the factory Nissan outfit.
The opening 60 kilometre leg of the race saw Jamie Whincup jump pole-sitter David Reynolds off the line, and lead the field into the first corner. However, the reigning champion’s stint at the front was short-lived, as a fired-up Reynolds capitalised on the smallest mistake from Whincup at Turn 6 to reclaim the ascendency early in the race.
Meanwhile, drama was everywhere in the mid-pack, as Rick Kelly’s Nissan Altima splattered oil all over the road, while the Erebus duo of Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth struck trouble after Slade received a tap from Jonathon Webb. The Kiwi duo of Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen also traded paint during the opening leg, however thankfully for the championship contenders, both were able to keep their Commodores pointing in the right direction.
Reynolds took the chequered flag at the mid-race break, and looked set to claim his first victory in Australia’s top tier category. However, the 27 year old had a second segment of the race that he would surely like to forget. The Bottle-O Racing pilot first lost the lead to Jamie Whincup on the opening lap, then allowed the reigning champion to streak away after an early restart, and was later collected by a sliding Mark Winterbottom under braking into Turn 6.
Lowndes locked his brakes into the famous Turn 6 on the opening lap and tagged Will Davison, which drew attention from the stewards and triggered total chaos as drivers desperately attempted to avoid Davison’s spinning FPR Falcon, who would eventually retire from the race.
Garth Tander’s HRT Commodore also sustained heavy damage as a result of Lowndes’ mistake, which left bodywork strewn all over the track on the exit of the corner.
Slade achieved the best result for Erebus Motorsport in 2013 after a roller coaster 120 kilometre sprint. The New South Welshman qualified 13th, however he was quickly relegated to the back of the pack after contact with Jonathon Webb at Turn 5 in the opening stages. But the youngster kept his nose clean in the second leg of the race, and brought home his E-Class Mercedes home sixth in a very respectable result for the team. He was followed home by Chaz Mostert in seventh for DJR in a career-best result for the rookie. Jason Bright, Tony D’Alberto and Michael Caruso rounded out the top 10 respectively.
Of the front runners who were involved in the calamities, David Reynolds crossed the line a disappointing 14th after looking almost certain to stand on the podium for the first time since last year’s Bathurst 1000. Garth Tander nursed his wounded HRT Commodore to 13th, while Craig Lowndes was the final car to cross the line in 26th. Will Davison was eventually garaged after suffering damage from the Lowndes incident, and will no doubt feel extremely frustrated with two consecutive DNFs to his name.
Mark Winterbottom, arguably piloting the fastest car on the grid, ended up in 22nd position. The FPR driver looked extremely dejected after the race, mentioning that he felt gutted for the team after squandering a potential podium finish for himself and his teammate Reynolds. It was the second time the 32-year-old has collected a car under heavy braking this season, with an incident of similar nature occurring at Pukekohe while fighting with Jamie Whincup for the race lead.
As a result of the shook-up field, Whincup has extended his championship lead to 224 points ahead of Red Bull Racing stablemate Craig Lowndes. BJR’s Jason Bright has nudged Will Davison from third position in the championship by a single point after Davison’s non-finish today.
Races 18 and 19 of the season will take place tomorrow afternoon. Both will feature a 15-minute qualifying session to determine the grid. The cars hit the track at 9.55 Central Standard Time for Race 18 qualifying.
2013 V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown – Race 1 Final Classification (42 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||1:18:55.3670|
|2.||Shane van Gisbergen||VIP Petfoods / Tekno Autosports||+ 0.3434|
|3.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 3.6843|
|4.||Jonathon Webb||Darrell Lea Racing / Tekno Autosports||+ 4.9934|
|5.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 8.4167|
|6.||Tim Slade||Heavy Haulage Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 8.9890|
|7.||Chaz Mostert||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 10.5124|
|8.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 12.8566|
|9.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 13.1330|
|10.||Michael Caruso||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 13.4940|
|11.||Scott McLaughlin||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 13.7385|
|12.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 14.6833|
|13.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 19.0476|
|14.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 19.9445|
|15.||James Moffat||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 20.4484|
|16.||Maro Engel||SP Tools Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 21.4035|
|17.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 21.7736|
|18.||Lee Holdsworth||IRWIN Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 24.7940|
|19.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 25.0960|
|20.||Alex Davison||Jeld-Wen Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 26.4943|
|21.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 28.2080|
|22.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 35.1227|
|23.||Russell Ingall||SuperCheap Auto Racing / TWR||+ 37.2030|
|24.||Dean Fiore||Dodo Insurance / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 38.9616|
|25.||Scott Pye||EKOL Racing / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 39.8044|
|26.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||+ 42.6020|
|DNF.||Will Davison||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||29 laps|
|DNF.||Tim Blanchard||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||21 laps|