Jamie Whincup has joined the ranks of the all-time Australian touring car greats by securing his fifth Drivers’ Championship title.
The Red Bull Racing Australia driver finished third in Sunday’s curtain-closing race at Sydney Olympic Park, which was won from pole position by Shane van Gisbergen.
Whincup headed into the race with a 110-point margin over teammate Craig Lowndes, and with a maximum of 150 points up for grabs, he simply needed to finish no worse than 21st in the race to claim his fifth title.
While cooler heads might have prevailed, Whincup was determined to end the year on a high with back-to-back wins after claiming victory in Saturday’s opening 250-kilometre race.
Starting from fourth place, Whincup elected to pit early and successfully undercut the long-runner van Gisbergen to assume the lead after the first of two compulsory pit stops had played themselves out.
Whincup made his second pit stop during a mid-race safety car interruption, and took a third tour through the pits for a splash-and-dash stop to ensure he had enough fuel to see him to the end of the race.
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, stuck with a conventional two-stop strategy and remained on-track during the caution period to run a long middle stint.
When he pitted for the second and final time he emerged from pit lane alongside Whincup as he barrelled down the start/finish straight.
The pair ran side-by-side through Turn 1, but Whincup’s warmer tyres ensured he had the better traction as they exited the left-hander.
But it took all of a lap for the New Zealander’s fresh tyres to come up to temperature, and he took a tried-and-trusted lunge down the inside of his fellow Holden runner on the very next lap to reclaim the position.
That left the pair in third and fourth behind Jason Bright and David Reynolds, whose rather unconventional strategies worked perfectly with the safety car interruptions to see them run 1-2 in the final stint.
But both were very marginal with fuel and tyre wear, and Reynolds was quickly shuffled down to fourth, leaving Bright with the challenge of managing his fuel consumption in the hope of scoring an unlikely win.
Bright’s defence was dogged, but van Gisbergen managed to nip by the former champion and claim the lead.
Whincup sensed the prospect of a quick profit at little cost and tried to follow van Gisbergen through, but Bright shut the door and the pair made contact at the final corner. The pair was lucky the hit wasn’t harder, as it could have ended Whincup’s championship tilt then and there.
The pair ran side-by-side down the start/finish straight and Bright retook the position, while a more circumspect Whincup opted to settle for third place, chased over the finish line by Reynolds and Lowndes.
The result ensured a fifth championship title for Whincup, who joined the ranks of Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife as the series’ only other five-time Drivers’ Championship winners.
The remaining Ford Performance Racing runners – Mark Winterbottom and brothers Will and Alex Davison – followed up next, with the brother switching positions in the closing stages to ensure Will managed to leapfrog his teammate Winterbottom for third in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Chaz Mostert capped off an impressive rookie season with ninth place ahead of his move to replace the Erebus Motorsport-bound Davison at FPR next year, while the retiring Russell Ingall farewelled his full-time V8 Supercars Championship career with tenth place, staging a typically dogged recovery drive after starting 24th on the grid.
2013 V8 Supercars Sydney 500 – Race 2 Final Classification (74 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||VIP Petfoods / Tekno Autosports||1:58:09.033|
|2.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 1.947|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||+ 2.512|
|4.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 2.832|
|5.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||+ 3.678|
|6.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 4.224|
|7.||Will Davison||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 7.386|
|8.||Alex Davison||Jeld-Wen Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 8.243|
|9.||Chaz Mostert||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 8.429|
|10.||Russell Ingall||SuperCheap Auto Racing / TWR||+ 8.908|
|11.||Tim Slade||Heavy Haulage Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 9.487|
|12.||Scott McLaughlin||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 11.946|
|13.||Lee Holdsworth||IRWIN Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 13.151|
|14.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 16.473|
|15.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 17.037|
|16.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 18.825|
|17.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 19.402|
|18.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 20.421|
|19.||Michael Caruso||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 24.662|
|20.||Maro Engel||SP Tools Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 32.551|
|21.||Dean Fiore||Dodo Insurance / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 1:14.058|
|22.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 1 lap|
|23.||Jonathon Webb||Darrell Lea Racing / Tekno Autosports||+ 8 laps|
|24.||Nick Percat||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 11 laps|
|DNF.||Scott Pye||EKOL Racing / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||58 laps|
|DNF.||Tim Blanchard||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||53 laps|
|DNF.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / TWR||39 laps|
|DNF.||James Moffat||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||30 laps|