On the eve of his 31st birthday, Mark Winterbottom has claimed victory in the first race of this weekend’s V8 Supercars Phillip Island 300.
The Ford Performance Racing driver’s win was well-earned in an action-packed race that featured geese invading the circuit and a late-race collision between the two leading championship contenders, Jamie Whincup and Will Davison.
The retirements for Whincup and Davison have effectively brought the championship challenge back to life, with Winterbottom now overtaking team-mate Davison to move into second place in the championship standings, a scant ten points shy of points leader Whincup.
Starting from pole, Winterbottom was beaten off the front row by FPR team-mate David Reynolds, while Davison leapt into third place on the opening lap courtesy of a great start.
It was an FPR 1-2-3 until the first round of pit stops, with Reynolds and Winterbottom peeling off into the pits to make the compulsory pit stops. Disaster would strike the luckless Reynolds when his fuel rig failed, which allowed Winterbottom to nip ahead while Reynolds was forced to pit again for the extra fuel and would finish no better than 21st.
Davison had remained out on track before pitting a lap later, and used an excellent in-lap to emerge ahead of Winterbottom as he left the pits. His lead would be short-lived, with Winterbottom moving ahead after the pair ran side-by-side for several corners of outstanding car control.
There was plenty of drama further down the order. The opening lap saw Tony D’Alberto bumped off the circuit, with the Ford driver forced into the kitty litter as he was shuffled to last place. A lap later and French import Alexandre Premat was out of the race, with his GRM Holden looking worse for wear after copping a mighty hit at the rear by Russell Ingall.
That brought out a short safety car interruption to remove his stranded car from near the pit entry, and it was on again for young and old shortly after when Craig Lowndes hit Jason Bright at Honda Corner, earning the TeamVodafone driver a drive-through penalty for his troubles.
A second safety car interruption came courtesy of a pair of geese that flew in to graze near the circuit’s edge late in the race!
Once the errant birds were chased away by some marshals, the restart brought about a thrilling battle in the final six laps of the race.
Winterbottom skipped away into the lead, leaving Davison to defend himself against attacks from a fast-closing Shane van Gisbergen.
Tim Slade, Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander were also in the mix, and it rather predictably came to a dire end when Slade and Davison made contact, breaking the latter’s steering and sending a hapless Davison careering into Whincup at Honda Corner.
Van Gisbergen emerged from the melee to finish second, while Slade narrowly held out Tander to complete an all-Ford podium. The top ten was completed by Lee Holdsworth, Rick Kelly, Jonathon Webb, Jason Bright, Michael Patrizi and Steve Owen.
Tomorrow’s action will see the 28-car field contest a longer 200-kilometre race, preceded by a twenty-minute qualifying session.
2012 V8 Supercars Phillip Island 300 – Race 1 Result (32 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||32||55:50.2117|
|2.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||32||+ 6.3894|
|3.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||32||+ 8.5709|
|4.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||32||+ 8.6696|
|5.||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||32||+ 8.9877|
|6.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||32||+ 9.3698|
|7.||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||32||+ 10.6090|
|8.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||32||+ 10.8243|
|9.||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||32||+ 11.2919|
|10.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing||32||+ 14.4236|
|11.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing||32||+ 14.9553|
|12.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||32||+ 15.5534|
|13.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||32||+ 15.7424|
|14.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||32||+ 16.3723|
|15.||David Wall||Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing||32||+ 17.6206|
|16.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing||32||+ 17.7758|
|17.||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||32||+ 18.2528|
|18.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||32||+ 18.4985|
|19.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||32||+ 19.8532|
|20.||Taz Douglas||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||32||+ 22.4265|
|21.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||32||+ 29.0871|
|22.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||32||+ 29.1260|
|23.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||31||+ 1 lap|
|24.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||29||+ 3 laps|
|DNF.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||28||Collision|
|DNF.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||28||Collision|
|DNF.||James Moffat||Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing||10||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||1||Collision|