Jamie Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell have overcome a mid-race drive-through penalty to win today’s Sandown 500 endurance race, overtaking teammate Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff en route to victory as the Red Bull Racing Australia team scored an impressive 1-2 finish.
Whincup and Dumbrell’s chances of victory had appeared ruined by a botched driver change during the third pit stop. Dumbrell had comfortably led the field away from his front-row starting position, but a late call to change drivers saw a mad scramble in the pit lane, with Dumbrell accidentally leaving his car in gear during the switching of pilots.
That meant the rear wheels were still spinning while the car was up on the jacks – a big ‘no-no’ under the safety rules designed to protect mechanics’ hands from being injured during tyre changes – and shortly after Whincup took over the controls, he was hauled into the pit lane for a drive-though penalty that dropped him well down the order.
However, subsequent Safety Car interruptions allowed the reigning champion to close up to the leading pack, and with a succession of excellent passing moves, he was able to run in formation behind teammate and race leader Craig Lowndes in the final twenty laps.
Lowndes was proving resolute in keeping the lead in his hopes of a fourth successive ‘500’ win, but his tyres were very second-hand by this stage of the race. Whincup simply had to apply the blowtorch and wait for a slip from Lowndes, which duly came at the final corner with ten laps to run. Lowndes had the briefest of turn-in understeer moments, ran wide on the exit kerbing, giving the lead to a grateful Whincup.
Lowndes finished second, ten seconds clear of an exciting battle for the final podium place between two drivers who could have only dreamed of a podium slot if asked earlier in the day.
The final spot went to the Ford Performance Racing combination of Will Davison and Steve Owen, who survived a rapidly-leaking and overheating gearbox in the closing stages to edge out Lee Holdsworth and Craig Baird by less than a second.
The Davison/Owen combination had started from pole position – although immediately lost the spot at the start of the race to Dumbrell – but had their hopes of victory seemingly dashed at their first pit stop, where they were forced to queue behind teammate Mark Winterbottom and co-driver Steven Richards.
Richards had botched the start from fourth position and opted to pit at the end of the opening lap to get one of their four compulsory pit visits out of the way. But that put the #5 car out of sequence, and by electing not to pit in the first of two successive Safety Car periods, they were back up at the front of the field but out of sync with the rest of the frontrunners.
So when another safety car was triggered, a furious Davison – who is still to renegotiate a contract extension with the factory team – was left to watch while Owen had to queue behind Richards in the pit lane, a strategic blunder that left them well down the running.
Winterbottom and Richards would feature at the front for the rest of the weekend, although their fading pace in the latter stages saw them drop to sixth, with hopes of a better finish compounded by a slow wheel change in the final pit stop.
When a fired-up Davison hopped behind the wheel of the sister #6 Ford, he drove with all of the pent-up anger he could muster and charged up the order to third, before smoke began billowing from his broken gearbox. Somehow, the car held together long enough to give a disbelieving driver a better finish than he could ever have imagined.
Fourth place for the Holdsworth/Baird combination was as much of a surprise to the pundits as it was to its two drivers, with the result giving the Erebus Motorsport AMG outfit its best finish of the year, and plenty of teary celebrations for Holdsworth and all of the team members.
For once, the troublesome E63 showed both pace and reliability. Baird put in a charge in his stint in the car with some very aggressive passing moves along the back straight before handing over to Holdsworth to bring the car home.
Fifth place went to James Courtney and co-driver Greg Murphy in the #22 HRT Holden. The result came despite a multitude of visits to the pit lane – Murphy had to tour in twice to address mechanical black flags for flapping bodywork. Teammate Garth Tander saw his slim championship hopes completely disappear with a 22nd-placed finish: he and co-driver Nick Percat had suffered similar bodywork issues, as well as a long pit stop to repair damaged steering sustained after contact with David Wall.
Despite the gruelling nature of the race – it was the first endurance race under the new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations – there were just two race-ending retirements.
Ashley Walsh triggered the race’s second safety car interruption when he had a huge accident at the end of the back straight – thankfully without injury to the DJR Ford co-driver driver – and Scott Pye was forced to retire his EKOL Holden with damaged steering.
Others to suffer mechanical maladies included Tony D’Alberto/Jonny Reid (sticking throttle), Jason Bright/Andrew Jones (steering), Maro Engel/Steven Johnson (brakes), and James Moffat/Taz Douglas (suspension).
2013 V8 Supercars Sandown 500 – Final Classification (161 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup / Paul Dumbrell||Triple 8 Engineering||3:22:54.258|
|2.||Craig Lowndes / Warren Luff||Triple 8 Engineering||+ 8.188|
|3.||Will Davison / Steve Owen||Ford Performance Racing||+ 17.942|
|4.||Lee Holdsworth / Craig Baird||Erebus Motorsport||+ 18.913|
|5.||James Courtney / Greg Murphy||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 26.151|
|6.||Mark Winterbottom / Steve Richards||Ford Performance Racing||+ 26.517|
|7.||Fabian Coulthard / Luke Youlden||Brad Jones Racing||+ 31.246|
|8.||Scott McLaughlin / Jack Perkins||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 33.308|
|9.||Russell Ingall / Ryan Briscoe||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 38.527|
|10.||Alexandre Prémat / Greg Ritter||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 49.881|
|11.||Todd Kelly / David Russell||Nissan Motorsport||+ 51.808|
|12.||Shane van Gisbergen / Jeroen Bleekemolen||Tekno Autosports||+ 59.638|
|13.||Jonathon Webb / Marc Lieb||Tekno Autosports||+ 1:00.557|
|14.||Chaz Mostert / Dale Wood||Dick Johnson Racing||+ 1:19.682|
|15.||Alex Davison / John McIntyre||Ford Performance Racing||+ 1 lap|
|16.||Rick Kelly / Karl Reindler||Nissan Motorsport||+ 1 lap|
|17.||David Reynolds / Dean Canto||Ford Performance Racing||+ 1 lap|
|18.||Dean Fiore / Matt Halliday||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 1 lap|
|19.||David Wall / Chris Pither||Brad Jones Racing||+ 1 lap|
|20.||Michael Caruso / Daniel Gaunt||Nissan Motorsport||+ 1 lap|
|21.||Tim Slade / Andrew Thompson||Erebus Motorsport||+ 2 laps|
|22.||Garth Tander / Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 9 laps|
|23.||Tony D’Alberto / Jonny Reid||Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 9 laps|
|24.||Jason Bright / Andrew Jones||Brad Jones Racing||+ 14 laps|
|25.||Maro Engel / Steven Johnson||Erebus Motorsport||+ 18 laps|
|26.||James Moffat / Taz Douglas||Nissan Motorsport||+ 38 laps|
|DNF.||Scott Pye / Paul Morris||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||135 laps|
|DNF.||Tim Blanchard / Ashley Walsh||Dick Johnson Racing||33 laps|