Jamie Whincup has once again showed why he is a six-time V8 Supercars champion with another imperious display, taking out both of Saturday’s races at Sydney’s Olympic Park street circuit.
The sprint from the starting grid to the first corner saw three of the four Nissans engaged in a bit of bumping and nudging, but it was Whincup who took the lead from polesitter Will Davison. The #1 Red Bull Holden didn’t waste any time, pulling out a 2.25-second lead by the end of the second lap. By contrast, teammate Craig Lowndes fell back to 25th place after starting 20th in his hastily repaired Holden Commodore.
Many runners were into the pits as early as Lap 5 to get their compulsory pit stop out of the way; Chaz Mostert didn’t do himself any favours by clipping the cones as he exited pit lane and earned himself a drive-through penalty for his troubles.
Ten laps into the race and it was Whincup who led from Tim Slade and David Wall, all of whom were yet to visit the pits.
Their invitation to do so came with a crash at Turn 1 for Mark Winterbottom, who slid into the tyre barriers at the outside of the corner and triggered a Safety Car. Slade got the jump on Whincup in the pits, and that in itself caused some controversy amid claims that Slade hadn’t slowed sufficiently under Safety Car conditions on his in-lap.
Whincup kept up the pressure on Slade, but their battle was halted by the return of the Safety Car, which came thanks to a collision between Todd Kelly and Scott Pye; the former went wide at Turn 1 and bounced off the tyre wall into Pye’s path, leaving the Ford driver with nowhere to go.
Racing resumed with fourteen laps to go and Whincup turned up the heat, getting by Slade through the Turn 9/10 complex and leaving the SuperCheap Auto Racing driver to fend off the attentions of David Reynolds, who was targeting his first podium finish of the season.
The top three would finish in that order, with Scott McLaughlin and Rick Kelly rounding out the top five ahead of Shane van Gisbergen, and the Brad Jones Holdens of Wall, Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright.
2014 V8 Supercars Sydney NRMA 500 – Race 36 Results (37 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||1:01:50.638|
|2.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 3.110|
|3.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||+ 5.469|
|4.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 9.448|
|5.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 10.605|
|6.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||+ 12.002|
|7.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 16.478|
|8.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 17.358|
|9.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||+ 18.423|
|10.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 19.507|
|11.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 23.271|
|12.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||+ 23.694|
|13.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 26.364|
|14.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 26.833|
|15.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 27.318|
|16.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||+ 29.018|
|17.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 29.332|
|18.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 30.332|
|19.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||+ 30.974|
|20.||Marcos Ambrose||Dick Johnson Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 31.908|
|21.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||+ 36.559|
|22.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 47.158|
|23.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||– 4 laps|
|DNF.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||27 laps|
|DNF.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||19 laps|
|DNF.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||18 laps|
The second of Saturday’s races started under ever-darkening skies with the heavens threatening to deposit their contents on the track at any minute. It was a four-wide sprint for the first corner, and like Groundhog Day, it was Whincup who again got the jump from the pole-sitter (Bright) to lead, with McLaughlin slotting into third.
Series returnee Marcos Ambrose continued his lukewarm comeback with a spin on the opening lap, while the rest of the field contemplated how to juggle their strategies with the certainty of a switch to wet-weather tyres being in order.
It didn’t take long for the rain to come down, with the out-of-position Lowndes, Russell Ingall, Todd Kelly and Jack Perkins making an early switch to wet tyres. The rest of the field made their move within the next two laps, with the exception of David Wall, who proved the decision was ill-advised with a wild slide on slick tyres at Turn 1.
Whincup was back in the lead ahead of Kiwi duo van Gisbergen and McLaughlin, and on Lap 18 the conditions became too treacherous, with race officials left with no choice but to call out the Safety Car.
The weather showed no signs of abating, and in fading light the race was suspended in the hope that the storm would pass so the rest of the race could be finished. The rain came down even heavier, flooding the track and leaving huge puddles of standing water.
Eventually conditions eased, and with ten minutes to go until the race’s scheduled finish time in the fading light, the race was restarted behind the Safety Car. Sadly, that proved to be a completed waste of time, as the field spend the remaining minutes touring behind the Pedders Chrysler before the chequered flag was thrown after 23 laps.
Images via Christian Hartung