James Courtney has quickly bounced back from a disappointing debut race with the Holden Racing Team, incredibly winning an exciting second race of the opening round of the V8 Supercars championship.
The key to the excitement of the race came as a result of two lengthy safety car interruptions, the first coming about at the start of the race with a multi-car shunt that eliminated Courtney’s team-mate Garth Tander, as well as Tony D’Alberto and Tim Slade.
The second safety car – caused by Craig Lowndes coming together with Russell Ingall – was the greater trigger for a thrilling finish, with some runners staying out instead of making another pit stop, giving them track position but putting them at risk of running out of gas.
By electing to stay out when others pitted, Courtney assumed the lead from Team BOC’s Jason Bright, who had more fuel in the tank.
Bright, a former V8 champion, ate into Courtney’s race lead and took the lead with a brave overtaking move at the end of the back straight.
But Courtney wasn’t about to be beaten, somehow finding enough fuel to increase his pace and stage a fightback. No doubt trying to prove why HRT had invested a not insignificant amount in bringing him over to their team in the off-season, Courtney made his move on the penultimate lap.
Bright fought back instantly, and the two ran side-by-side through three corners before Courtney emerged ahead to take victory, ending Jamie Whincup’s unbeaten streak at Abu Dhabi.
Whincup himself finished third on the road after he had pitted during the second safety car incident. And while the Team Vodafone driver currently leads the championship standings after the first round of the 2011 season, he might face further sanctions when he meets with the stewards at the next round in Adelaide, after he was identified as having crossed the pit lane exit line on his reconnaissance lap to the grid.
David Reynolds took an excellent fourth for the unfancied Stratco Racing outfit after he had also opted not to pit during the safety car, and Michael Caruso finished fifth – ensuring that Holden took the top-five places in the race.
Jonathon Webb was the best-placed Ford driver in sixth place, with Alex Davison, Shane van Gisbergen, Greg Murphy and Paul Dumbrell rounding out the top-ten.
The race stewards were kept busy during the second race, awarding a 25-point penalty to D’Alberto for triggering the opening-lap accident, while the likes of Steve Owen, Paul Dumbrell, Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison were issued with drive-through penalties for pit lane infringements. Lowndes was penalised for his contact with Russll Ingall, finishing a lap adrift in a lowly 21st place.
V8 Supercars Yas 400 Final Classification (Race 2 – 43 laps):
|1.||James Courtney||TOLL Holden Racing Team||1:43:14.651|
|2.||Jason Bright||Team BOC||+ 0.607|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone||+ 4.827|
|4.||David Reynolds||Stratco Racing||+ 7.941|
|5.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing GRM||+ 12.345|
|6.||Jonathon Webb||Mother Energy Racing Team||+ 13.100|
|7.||Alex Davison||Irwin Racing||+ 13.656|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tool Racing FPR||+ 14.199|
|9.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 18.076|
|10.||Paul Dumbrell||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 20.280|
|11.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||+ 20.497|
|12.||Jason Bargwanna||Team BOC||+ 21.070|
|13.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods||+ 25.713|
|14.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel FPR||+ 28.110|
|15.||Fabian Coulthard||Huzzah Racing||+ 42.488|
|16.||Will Davison||Trading Post FPR||+ 49.120|
|17.||Warren Luff||Gulf Western Oil Racing||+ 55.617|
|18.||Steven Johnson||Dick Johnson Racing||+ 59.414|
|19.||Rick Kelly||Kelly Racing||1 lap behind|
|20.||Dean Fiore||Triple F Racing||1 lap behind|
|21.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone||1 lap behind|
|22.||Lee Holdsworth||Fujitsu Racing GRM||5 laps behind|
|James Moffatt||Dick Johnson Racing||26 laps|
|Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto Racing||19 laps|
|Todd Kelly||Kelly Racing||3 laps|
|Tony D’Alberto||Wilson Security Racing||0 laps|
|Garth Tander||TOLL Holden Racing Team||0 laps|
|Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing||0 laps|
[Original video via V8 Supercars Australia]