Mark Winterbottom has resisted intense pressure from Jason Bright to secure victory in today’s opening race at Winton Raceway, and in the process made major inroads into Jamie Whincup’s championship lead after the series leader suffered back-to-back DNFs.
After a poor qualifying performance for both of today’s 100-kilometre races, Whincup’s Saturday got even worse on the opening lap when he was taken out of proceedings in a multi-car accident as the field exited Turn 2.
The smash was triggered by Alexandre Prémat, who found himself squeezed off-track at the Turn 1 left-hander and his attempted to rejoin the circuit, the Frenchman triggered a chain reaction that saw Whincup, Garth Tander, Michael Caruso and Russell Ingall cop damage.
While Ingall and Prémat were out on the spot, Whincup’s mechanics were able to perform some repairs on the championship leader’s Holden so he could rejoin the race in the hope of salvaging some damage-limiting championship points. He rejoined the field six laps down, but was forced to retire in order for further repairwork to be carried ahead of today’s second race later in the afternoon.
Up at the front, it was Winterbottom who assumed the lead, making a superb start from the second row of the grid as Bright and fellow front-row starter Tony D’Alberto both bogged down off the line.
The Ford driver quickly skipped away into an early lead, while a more circumspect Bright gently played his tyres in and concentrated on keeping D’Alberto and chasing pack at bay.
Bright started to turn up the wick in the latter half of the race, quickly closing down Winterbottom’s lead to try and mount a challenge for victory.
Ultimately the wily Winterbottom withstood all of Bright’s attention, with the pair crossing the finish line just four-tenths of a second apart.
D’Alberto’s dreams of a first podium finish were denied by James Courtney, who snuck by the owner/driver mid-race to claim the final podium spot. D’Alberto carried on, holding off Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds to secure a career-best fourth-placed finish at the end of the 34-lap race.
Will Davison, Fabian Coulthard, Scott McLaughlin and David Wall completed the top-ten, while Race 1 winner James Moffat charged through to finish eleventh after a poor qualifying performance that netted him 25th on the grid.
Moffat and his Nissan teammate Michael Caruso had copped plenty of envious glances after their 1-2 finish in yesterday’s SuperSprint race, which rival outfits claimed came as a result of the experimental Bioethanol-70 blend fuel they were allowed to run in the race.
The different fuel had been signed off to assess whether it (compared with the standard E85 fuel used by the rest of the field) gave the new Nissans and AMG E63s better fuel consumption as the field gears up for the next three endurance rounds, and on the basis of Moffat’s pace on the conventional fuel, it’s fair to say it made absolutely no difference at all.
The final 100-kilometre race gets underway at 4:15pm local time, with James Courtney starting from pole position.
2013 V8 Supercars Winton 360 – Race 2 Final Classification (34 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||50:25.525|
|2.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.423|
|3.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 6.264|
|4.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 11.268|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||VIP Petfoods / Tekno Autosports||+ 11.766|
|6.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 12.147|
|7.||Will Davison||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 17.794|
|8.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 18.209|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 23.036|
|10.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 23.281|
|11.||James Moffat||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 23.781|
|12.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||+ 30.490|
|13.||Chaz Mostert||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 34.171|
|14.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 34.542|
|15.||Scott Pye||EKOL Racing / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 34.993|
|16.||Dean Fiore||Dodo Insurance / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 35.365|
|17.||Maro Engel||SP Tools Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 35.688|
|18.||Alex Davison||Jeld-Wen Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 40.227|
|19.||Tim Slade||Heavy Haulage Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 40.573|
|20.||Lee Holdsworth||IRWIN Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 44.546|
|21.||Tim Blanchard||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 46.437|
|22.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 46.991|
|23.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 5 laps|
|24.||Jonathon Webb||Darrell Lea Racing / Tekno Autosports||+ 7 laps|
|DNF.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||20 laps|
|DNF.||Michael Caruso||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||6 laps|
|DNF.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||0 laps|
|DNF.||Russell Ingall||SuperCheap Auto Racing / TWR||0 laps|