James Courtney has closed out the Ipswich 400 round of the V8 Supercars Championship with victory in Sunday’s 200-kilometre feature race. A smart pit strategy by his HRT engineers gave the former champion the win ahead of Craig Lowndes and Chaz Mostert.
It was a clean start by all for Race 25 with pole-sitter James Moffat defying fellow front-row starter Courtney a shot at the lead in the dash to Turn 1.
After qualifying well down the order, Lee Holdsworth opted to take a strategic gamble and pit out of sequence early on – it was a similar decision taken by Craig Lowndes and Fabian Coulthard, who had also qualified lower than their traditional frontrunning positions. But Holdsworth’s gamble backfired after he was hit with a pit-lane drive-through penalty for spinning his rear wheels while his car was on its jacks.
Moffat was slowly increasing his lead over Courtney after the first five laps, while the pair was being chased by Nick Percat, Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup.
Moffat was the first of the front-runners to head into the pits and took on a heavy amount of fuel for his middle stint. The higher fuel loads placed greater strain on his tyres and the youngster’s pace faded at this point, leaving Courtney and the HRT crew to assume the lead once everyone had completed their two-stop cycles.
The middle section of the race features plenty of action – Mostert’s battle with Whincup was particularly entertaining – while a number of runners suffered tyre failures as their left-rears gave up under the strain through the circuit’s two fast opening right-handers. Both Kelly brothers had off-track moments within a few laps of each other, while McLaughlin, David Reynolds and Mark Winterbottom all suffered tyre deflations.
The puncture was devastating for Winterbottom, who emerged well down the order and saw his ever-diminishing points lead in the Drivers’ Championship evaporate.
Moffat was slowly increasing his lead on Courtney, now sitting at 0.8Sec and Perkins was off at T3 but rejoins without drama. Lap 10/65 and it was P1 Moffat P2 Courtney P3 Percat P4 McLaughlin P5 Whincup. Tander, Winterbottom and Dahlgren all then pitted for fuel and tyres, the leader Moffat and car 1 also then pitted as well.
Out front, Courtney exited pit lane well ahead of Lowndes following his second stop, putting him in a good position with fuel and tyres to the finish. Lowndes briefly threatened, but Courtney ultimately had it all in hand and crossed the finish line over five seconds clear to complete a Holden rout at Queensland Raceway after Whincup’s back-to-back wins on Saturday.
Lowndes and Mostert completed the podium, although the latter survived a last-lap lunge by Mostert, who tried a die-or-die pass at Turn 3. It didn’t come off, with his Nissan skating through the gravel trap and dropping him to fifth, gifting the position to a delighted Scott Pye who claimed the best race finish of his career.
2014 V8 Supercars Ipswich 400 – Race 25 Results (65 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||1:18:18.055|
|2.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 5.585|
|3.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 7.959|
|4.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 11.948|
|5.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 14.347|
|6.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 14.893|
|7.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||+ 18.726|
|8.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 18.890|
|9.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 20.154|
|10.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||+ 27.775|
|11.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 29.949|
|12.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 36.326|
|13.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||+ 37.784|
|14.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 40.411|
|15.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 40.733|
|16.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 43.080|
|17.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||+ 45.229|
|18.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 45.610|
|19.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 46.548|
|20.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||+ 49.115|
|21.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 50.990|
|22.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 1:03.381|
|23.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 1:03.813|
|24.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||+ 1:05.655|
|25.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||– 1 lap|
Images via Christian Hartung and V8 Supercars Championship Media