Jamie Whincup has claimed his third V8 Supercars Championship title in four years, finishing today’s season-ending race in Sydney in eighth place, an action-packed race won by Mark Winterbottom.
Whincup’s Team Vodafone team-mate and sole championship rival Craig Lowndes finished the race in second place, but it wasn’t enough to claim his first championship crown since 1999.
With qualifying providing plenty of thrills and spills, a damp circuit at the start of the race would simply continue the flavour, and today’s race provided fans with a fitting finale to the season.
With the exception of the retiring Paul Dumbrell (Rod Nash Ford), the entire field set off on the formation lap on the wet Dunlop tyres, but almost half of the wet-tyre runners peeled into the pits to change to the dry tyres, leaving barely ten cars to take the actual race start. In the confusion, Michael Caruso (GRM Holden) missed his grid slot, and it was some time before he was called in for a stop/go penalty.
Pole-sitter Will Davison (Ford Performance Racing) and his front-row compatriot Whincup were among those who remained out of pit-lane. Davison made the better start, while a cautious Whincup dropped to fifth on the opening lap; Lowndes got the jump and moved into second place, with Dumbrell in third and James Courtney (HRT Holden) in fourth.
There was some grief on the opening lap. Rick Kelly (Kelly Holden) had a quick spin at Turn 1, while James Moffat (DJR Ford) and Fabian Coulthard (Walkinshaw Holden) came together in a needless bit of door-banging; both would retire.
The rain momentarily returned, and the slick-shod Dumbrell quickly found himself tumbling down the order, while Whincup started to find his feet, moving into third ahead of Courtney, who also slide wide.
By the twelfth lap, the rain had stopped and track surface was dry enough to force the wet-tyre runners into the pits, allowing those who’d pitted early to move up to the front. Davison, Lowndes and Whincup fell to 14th, 15th and 20th, respectively,
Tony D’Alberto found himself at the top of the timing screens, although his position in the sun would be short-lived, as Winterbottom (FPR Ford), Lee Holdsworth (GRM Holden) and the recovering Dumbrell all got by him. D’Alberto then lost a bunch of places as he tried to avoid a collision with Garth Tander (HRT Holden), but he crashed heavily the very next lap when his front suspension failed.
The safety car was called into action once again, and when racing resumed, Dumbrell moved into second place, and started applying pressure on his FPR stablemate Winterbottom.
The championship contenders had managed to work their way up the order, with Lowndes running in seventh place – two spots ahead of Whincup – as the final pit stops approached.
Another safety car interruption – this time for contact between Todd Kelly and Tander – saw everyone pile into the pit-lane. Lowndes only lost one place in his visit to the pits for fresh tyres and more fuel, while Whincup had to queue behind his team-mate and fell to seventeenth.
The restart saw Lowndes and Whincup make up lost ground, but the championship battle became academic when Whincup moved into twelfth place, the minimum position he needed to finish to claim the title, irrespective of where Lowndes finished the race…
Five laps from the end, Lowndes was in third place, which became second when Dumbrell threw away his shot at a swansong win by disappearing up an escape road, and then collecting the hapless Holdsworth when he stupidly tried to rejoin the circuit with a quick spin-turn.
Will Davison then had his own accident, bringing out the safety car once more and leaving the pack with a two-lap dash to the finish.
By now, Lowndes needed for disaster to hit his team-mate, but Whincup kept it steady to cross the line in eighth place and claim the crown.
Lowndes was left to trail in Winterbottom’s wake, while Shane van Gisbergen (SPR Ford) completed the podium ahead of Jonathon Webb (Tekno Ford), Russell Ingall (Paul Morris Holden), Caruso and the outgoing champion, James Courtney (HRT Holden).
V8 Supercars Sydney Telstra 500 Final Classification (Race 2 – 74 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||2:05:05.2756|
|2.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||+ 0.7262|
|3.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 3.6979|
|4.||Jonathon Webb||Mother Energy Racing Team / Tekno||+ 4.5098|
|5.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Paul Morris M’sport||+ 5.1877|
|6.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 5.7372|
|7.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 6.2372|
|8.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||+ 7.3235|
|9.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 8.1556|
|10.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 8.6815|
|11.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||+ 9.1098|
|12.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 9.4990|
|13.||David Reynolds||Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing||+ 10.9123|
|14.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 11.2880|
|15.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 14.7012|
|16.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||8 laps behind|
|17.||Jason Bargwanna||Jana Living Racing / Brad Jones Racing||10 laps behind|
|18.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Brad Jones Racing||10 laps behind|
|19.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||11 laps behind|
|DNF.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||69 laps|
|DNF.||Paul Dumbrell||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||69 laps|
|DNF.||Lee Holdsworth||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||68 laps|
|DNF.||Dean Fiore||Westrac Racing / Triple F Racing||55 laps|
|DNF.||Tony D’Alberto||Wilson Security / Tony D’Alberto Racing||31 laps|
|DNF.||Alex Davison||Irwin / Stone Brothers Racing||30 laps|
|DNF.||Warren Luff||Gulf Western Oil / Lucas Dumbrell||23 laps|
|DNF.||Fabian Coulthard||Bundaberg Racing / Walkinshaw Racing||1 lap|
|DNF.||James Moffat||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||1 lap|
[Images via V8 Supercars; video via V8 Supercars]