The Prodrive Racing team has continued its domination of qualifying with a lights-to-flag win apiece for Chaz Mostert and Mark Winterbottom in Saturday’s two Sprint Races at Winton Raceway.
Mostert led the opening race from pole position, with teammate Winterbottom slotting into second place behind the 23-year-old from the off. By the end of the 20-lap race, Mostert had extended his lead over ‘Frosty’ to almost three seconds, while front-row starter Michael Caruso held on to third place, having lost the spot to Winterbottom at the start of the race.
It was a strong race for the Nissan Motorsport stable, which had brothers Todd and Rick Kelly finish fifth and seventh respectively, splitting David Reynolds’ Bottle-O Ford and Fabian Coulthard’s Freightliner Racing Holden.
Tekno Autorsports driver Shane Van Gisbergen beat home reigning champion Jamie Whincup in eight and ninth, while Nick Percat climbed into the top ten in his Commodore.
Championship leader Craig Lowndes finished outside the top-ten in twelfth, while Scott McLaughlin’s troubled weekend continued: having spun his Volvo off in qualifying, he repeated the dose in the race after being tipped off the track by Dale Wood.
It was a very pedestrian race – giving critics of the current Super Sprint format more ammunition to lobby for a change in race distances – and the fiel largely kept to its qualifying order as they sought to preserve tyres for the rest of the weekend.
|2015 V8 Supercars NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint – Race 10 Top-10 Classified Finishers (20 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||28:40.008|
|2.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 2.873|
|3.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 5.169|
|4.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 6.566|
|5.||Todd Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 9.042|
|6.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 10.825|
|7.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 12.254|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 14.937|
|9.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 15.153|
|10.||Nick Percat||Repair Management Racing||+ 18.338|
Race 2 was a comparatively livelier affair, with Winterbottom getting the jump on Mostert at the start to lead his younger teammate through the opening sequence of corners.
Mostert’s getaway was poor, as he also lost a place to Rick Kelly’s Nissan by the first turn; that set the podium, with neither of the trio really able to mount a challenge on the other. Kelly kept a watching brief behind Winterbottom and finished 0.8 seconds behind the Ford at the end of the 20-lap dash.
While the top-hald of the field navigated through the first corners successfully, there was drama further back when the two Holden Racing Team Commodores of Garth Tander and James Courtney came together; the latter outbraked himself and punted Tander and their innocent stablemate Lee Holdsworth off into the gravel in an embarrassing display of ‘friendly fire’.
Andre Haimgartner also slid off track a few corners later, but was able to rejoin.
From that point it was another procession, with the field remaining largely unchanged. Reynolds claimed fourth position again in his Bottle-O Falcon ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and reigning champion Jamie Whincup.
Erebus Motorsport’s Will Davison survived late race pressure from championship leader Craig Lowndes, while Scott McLaughlin finished ninth ahead of Race 1 podium-finisher Caruso.
The V8 Supercars Championship’s round continues with qualifying and a final 200-kilometre Feature Race on Sunday.
|2015 V8 Supercars NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint – Race 11 Top-10 Classified Finishers (20 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||28:38.317|
|2.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.837|
|3.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 2.617|
|4.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 2.973|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 4.491|
|6.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 4.844|
|7.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||+ 7.940|
|8.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 8.844|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Repair Management Racing||+ 11.330|
|10.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 11.815|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship Media