Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Lee Holdsworth has capped off a hugely impressive weekend by securing the second V8 Supercars victory of his career at the season-ending round on Sydney’s Homebush Bay street circuit around the former Olympic Games site.

The Holden driver – whose maiden race victory came at Oran Park over three years ago – stuck his car on pole once again at this venue, was a frontrunner all race, and tigered past a faltering Shane van Gisbergen on the final lap to take a well-deserved Holdsworth took a well-deserved win in Race 2victory.

And as spectacular as Holdsworth’s victory was, the event was all about the championship battle between James Courtney and Jamie Whincup, with the matter being resolved in Courtney’s favour, as the Dick Johnson Racing driver did enough to secure his maiden V8SA title with a 14th-placed finish in the weekend’s second 250km race.

For Whincup, he headed into the final race trailing Courtney by 113 points, and nothing less than a fourth-placed finish would keep him in the championship hunt, while for Courtney, the championship was simply his to lose, and he simply needed to finish 22nd or higher to take the crown.

Whincup kept his slim hopes alive in qualifying by securing a front row start alongside Holdsworth, but unlike yesterday’s race, Holdsworth had the pace to fend off Whincup’s advances for the lead.

With fuel consumption forcing most drivers to run a three-stop pit strategy, Whincup’s only chance of taking a hat-trick of titles was to gamble boldly, and the Team Vodafone driver attempted a two-stop strategy that involved some fuel-saving and a bit of praying for a few safety car interruptions.

But a second safety car period – deployed so marshals could remove stricken tyre bundles from the racing line – was over too quickly for Whincup’s strategy to pay off, and he faltered to a fifth-placed finish.

Watch the highlights of today’s season-ending race

Courtney himself had some race hiccups, badly fluffing the start from 12th on the grid and then getting involved in some gentle nose-to-tail fender bending with the midfield (fortunately for him, with no major damage) in the opening laps.

But more disaster struck during his first pit stop on lap 22, when his mechanics were unable to remove his right-rear wheel during the tyre change, which cost him a considerable number of track positions as he was held in the pits.

But the first safety car interruption just seven laps later allowed Courtney to pit again without the penalty of losing more track position, and this time his mechanics were able to swap the right-rear wheel. The stop also put him out of synch with many of his rivals, who still had to make two pit stops before the 74-lap race ended, while Courtney could squeeze through with just one more visit to the pits.

Van Gisbergen was another who tried a two-stop strategy, pitting for the second time on lap 44 and then needing to eke out his leftover fuel for the remaining thirty laps.

A third and final safety car interruption – to retrieve Tim Slade’s Ford from the Turn 1 tyre barriers gave van Gisbergen a little more margin to play with, and he found himself in the lead as the frontrunners all made their final pit stop. The other to run this strategy was yesterday’s race-winner Jonathon Webb, who was up to second place, with Holdsworth behind them in third.

Van Gisbergen was cruelly robbed of victory when he ran out of fuelAt the restart, Webb quickly tumbled down the order while Holdsworth hung onto van Gisbergen’s coat-tails for a further twelve laps.

The hugely impressive van Gisbergen – who oh so nearly took his maiden race victory on the streets of Surfers Paradise – looked set to repeat Webb’s first-time-winner feat, but his Falcon tragically spluttered with just a few corners to go, struggling to pick up the last of the dregs in its very empty fuel tank.

A jubilant Holdsworth nipped through to take the lead and a well-deserved win, with Steven Richards capping off a strong weekend by finishing second in his final outing Courtney emerged as the 2010 title winner for Ford Performance Racing. Van Gisbergen was able to stagger over the line to finish third, just two-hundredths of a second ahead of Steven Richards.

But the weekend was largely about Courtney’s championship success, and the off-season rumours will (until confirmed) be all about where the former Jaguar F1 test driver will be racing in 2011.

Race 2 Final Classification:

  Driver   Team Result
1. Lee Holdsworth Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM 2:03:58.6442
2. Steven Richards Ford Ford Performance Racing + 1.5358
3. Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools Racing + 8.4239
4. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing + 8.4437
5. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone + 10.2476
6. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone + 13.4918
7. Rick Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 16.0408
8. Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 16.2850
9. Garth Tander Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team + 19.8472
10. Jonathon Webb Ford Dick Johnson Racing + 22.8910
11. Tony D’Alberto Holden Centaur Racing + 23.8604
12. Greg Murphy Holden Castrol Edge Racing + 24.8702
13. Andrew Jones Holden Team BOC + 27.5751
14. James Courtney Ford Jim Beam Racing + 29.7892
15. Paul Dumbrell Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team + 30.6741
16. Dean Fiore Ford Triple F Racing + 34.5637
17. Tony Ricciardello Holden Stratco Racing + 40.5472
18. Warren Luff Holden Gulf Western Oil Racing + 45.8667
19. Fabian Coulthard Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 56.0602
20. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto Racing + 1:20.1665
21. Todd Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 2 laps
22. Jason Bargwanna Holden ROCK Racing + 4 laps
23. Alex Davison Ford IRWIN Racing + 15 laps
  Not Classified      
  Mark Winterbottom Ford Ford Performance Racing 65 laps
  Tim Slade Ford Wilson Security Racing 58 laps
  Jason Bright Holden Trading Post Racing 54 laps
  Will Davison Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team 47 laps
  Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing 44 laps
  Andrew Thompson Holden Bundaberg Red Racing 37 laps

[Original image via V8 Supercars official website. Original videos via V8 Supercars]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.