The V8 Supercars Championship’s annual visit to Winton has delivered another popular winner from unexpected quarters, with Tim Slade taking victory in Saturday’s race at Brad Jones Racing’s home event.
For the South Australian driver, it had been a long time coming. With 226 race starts under his belt and a litany of heartbreaking stories, Slade was beginning to forge a reputation as one of the championship’s ‘nearly men’: a driver with the uncanny knack of joining the wrong team at the wrong time.
The three-car BJR squad hadn’t exactly set the world alight across the preceding rounds of the season, but the slow-speed Winton circuit is the crew’s home track, and its recent resurfacing meant that the traditional form guide could be thrown out of the window by the time qualifying came on Saturday afternoon.
Slade duly put his car on pole ahead of defending champion Mark Winterbottom, and scorched off the line to claim a lights-to-flag victory. He led every lap of the race outside the compulsory pit stop cycle in a truly masterful display of driving.
Winterbottom slipped to third behind Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin – up from fourth on the grid – on the run to Turn 1, allowing the Kiwi to initially track Slade through the opening ten laps of the race. Slade pitted on Lap 10 with McLaughlin following a lap later, but he was unable to reverse their positions.
Slade went on to extend his lead to over 5 seconds at one point, before backing off to claim a comfortable 4.3-second victory at the end of the 40-lap race. In doing so, he became the year’s ninth different race-winner in ten races to-date.
McLaughlin was left to defend second place from a train of cars comprising Winterbottom, Rick Kelly, Jamie Whincup, Will Davison and Chaz Mostert, who all crossed the line nose-to-tail behind the Volvo.
Michael Caruso, Shane van Gisbergen and Lee Holdsworth completed the top 10, while Craig Lowndes had a disappointing run to 14th and falls to third in the Drivers’ Championship standings. McLaughlin moves into the lead by 21 points over Whincup.
It was a poor race for the factory Holden Racing Team duo of Garth Tander and James Courtney, who – when not running in each other – continued their bruising form by making contact with other drivers.
Tander was the unlucky victim of the bunching field at Turn 1 and found himself copping a puncture to cap off a poor qualifying performance that saw him well down the order.
Courtney continued his aggressive style, but showed an ever-worrying tendency to punt his rivals off-course. First there was a nudge on Holdsworth, and later came more serious contact with the Prodrive Ford of Cameron Waters, who was turfed into the infield at high speed. Incredibly, the Stewards ruled no breach of the rules in either incident.
|2016 V8 Supercars Woodstock Winton SuperSprint – Race 10 Top-10 Finishers (40 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Tim Slade||Brad Jones Racing||54:40.495|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 4.361|
|3.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 4.584|
|4.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 5.177|
|5.||Jamie Whincup||Triple Eight Engineering||+ 5.453|
|6.||Will Davison||TEKNO Autosports||+ 6.226|
|7.||Chaz Mostert||Rod Nash Racing||+ 6.554|
|8.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 10.578|
|9.||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Racing Team||+ 10.734|
|10.||Lee Holdsworth||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||+ 11.044|
Image via Motorsport.com