Jamie Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell will start from pole position for Sunday’s Sandown 500 feature race after winning their respective qualifying heat races at the Melbourne circuit.

Dumbrell won an incident-filled co-driver race, which gave Whincup the perfect platform to secure a lights-to-flag victory in the second heat race which was for the series’ full-time drivers.

Co-Driver Race: Dumbrell dominates in incident-filled race

Co-driver to reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup, Dumbrell have the Red Bull Racing team’s brand-new #1 Holden VF Commodore chassis a perfect debut with a dominant performance over the 20-lap race.

Dumbrell started the race from the second row of the grid behind the two Prodrive Racing Fords, but was in the lead before the end of the second lap.

Pole-sitter Cameron Waters led the field through the opening sequence of corners before locking his left-front brake on the approach to Turn 4. That mistake allowed the sister Prodrive Ford of Steve Owen into the lead, but he was quickly overwhelmed by Dumbrell who put a clinical pass for the lead at the start of the second lap.

From there on, he had an untroubled run and claimed victory with a comfortable 7-second margin to Owen.

The victory hands pole position for the main drivers’ heat race to Whincup, which takes place later in the afternoon. Owen’s second-placed finish gives current points leader Mark Winterbottom a front-row start.

Waters recovered from his mistake – which saw him drop to fourth place – to complete the podium ahead of Dean Canto (Bottle-O Racing Ford) and Jonathon Webb (TEKNO Autosports Holden), with the latter losing positions to both Ford drivers with costly off-track excursions.

Veteran driver Russell Ingall benefited from a lightning getaway to finish sixth in his HRT Holden, ahead of Tony D’Alberto, Marcos Ambrose, Luke Youlden and Karl Reindler.

Four-time Champ Car title-winner Sébastien Bourdais finished a frustrated eleventh after coming off worse in a race that saw plenty of aggression from the co-driver field. The Frenchman started the race in fourth place, but lost ground almost immediately after being shoved wide at Turn 1 on the opening lap and then suffered a later hit from Ambrose, who had himself been nudged from behind by Canto.

Other incidents included Alex Buncombe spinning Chris Pither at Turn 9 on Lap 2, while the Volvo of Alexandre Prémat performed an almost identical move on Andrew Jones’ Holden at the same corner a few laps later.

Jones was forced to retire with radiator damage, while David Russell was also out of the race with damaged suspension after two off-track excursions.

Saturday’s second heat race – featuring the series’ main drivers – will start at 4:10pm (GMT +10). Its finishing positions will determine the grid for Sunday’s 500-kilometre feature race.

2015 V8 Supercars Championship Wilson Security Sandown 500 – Qualifying Race 1 Top-10 Finishers (20 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Paul Dumbrell Red Bull Racing / Triple 8 23:26.467
2. Steve Owen Prodrive Racing + 7.122
3. Cameron Waters Prodrive Racing + 9.806
4. Dean Canto The Bottle-O Racing Team + 10.984
5. Jonathon Webb TEKNO Autosports + 12.509
6. Tony D’Alberto Walkinshaw Performance + 13.592
7. Russell Ingall Holden Racing Team + 15.454
8. Marcos Ambrose DJR Team Penske + 15.819
9. Luke Youlden Brad Jones Racing + 19.231
10. Karl Reindler Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport + 20.696

Main Driver Race: Whincup survives late race restart to win 

Whincup’s run to victory and pole position for Sunday’s main race was a rather less straightforward affair, with the reigning champion surviving a tense final lap to claim the second heat race win ahead of the Prodrive Fords of Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert.

The defending series champion had to hold out in a one-lap dash to the flag after the closing stages of the race ran under Safety Car conditions due to an earlier crash between Andre Heimgartner’s Ford and Jack Perkins’ HRT Holden.

Heimgartner’s Super Black Racing Ford succumbed to suspension damage after earlier contact in the race, with the component failing at the exit of the Turn 6 sweep and sending him into the barriers. He bounced back onto the track and into the path of the hapless Perkins, who had already had a potentially good result go begging when he was shoved off the track by Craig Lowndes prior to his race-ending crash.

The start of the race saw Whincup narrowly hold off Winterbottom on the sprint to Turn 1, with the Red Bull Racing driver locking his brakes on approach to Turn 1. As he had the inside line for the corner, that forced Winterbottom to take evasive action and he slotted back in to second place.

The top-three ran in that order until the Safety Car interruption, but Winterbottom almost threw away second place when he ran wide at Turn 1 at the restart, which allowed Mostert to draw alongside for the Turn 2/3 chicane.

Two cars can never get through that complex side-by-side, and so Mostert was then forced to bounce over the chicane’s infield run-off and rejoin behind his teammate.

Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds rounded out the top-five places ahead of Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth, Will Davison, Fabian Coulthard and Nick Percat.

Series veteran Craig Lowndes will have a tough task to try and make any major in-roads and rejoin the championship fight, finishing in 23rd place after being rightly awarded a drive-through penalty for his contact with Perkins.

2015 V8 Supercars Championship Wilson Security Sandown 500 – Qualifying Race 2 Top-10 Finishers (20 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry   Time
1. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Racing / Triple 8 24:35.310
2. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing + 0.806
3. Chaz Mostert Prodrive Racing + 1.155
4. Shane van Gisbergen TEKNO Autosports + 1.800
5. David Reynolds The Bottle-O Racing Team + 2.164
6. Tim Slade Walkinshaw Performance + 2.354
7. Lee Holdsworth Walkinshaw Performance + 2.879
8. Will Davison Erebus Motorsport V8 + 3.298
9. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Racing + 3.475
10. Nick Percat Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport + 3.920

Image via V8 Supercars Championship

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Geoff Burke

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