Jame Whincup and his engineer David Cauchi marked their reunification in style with a lights-to-flag win in Saturday’s opening sprint race of the ITM 500 Auckland.
Whincup survived a brief debris-induced Safety Car interruption – and a nudge from fellow front-row starter David Reynolds on the restart lap – a comfortable 4.4 seconds clear of local driver Shane van Gisbergen to notch up his fourth race win of the season.
It was this contact which allowed an enterprising van Gisbergen to get ahead, thanks to Reynolds being momentarily baulked as he tried to avoid contact with Whincup, who was recovering from a lock-up at the hairpin.
Promoted into second place, van Gisbergen tried to give chase to Whincup but his efforts would ultimately prove folorn and he had to settle for second place ahead of Reynolds.
It was the battle for fourth place between Craig Lowndes and Scott Pye that delivered the bulk of the entertainment during the race. Pye was desperately holding onto fourth place in his DJR Team Penske Ford, but ultimately succumbed to Lowndes’ pressure on the penultimate lap and cut the Turn 5/6 chicane at the end of the back straight.
Pye was immediately instructed to cede the position to Lowndes and failed to do so before the run the chequered flag, although the race stewards sought to quickly redress that by altering the final classification results.
Michael Caruso brought his Nissan Altima home in a solid sixth ahead of championship leader Mark Winterbottom, who limited his points’ damage to Lowndes by finishing in seventh place.
The race featured some drama on its opening lap when Will Davison’s Mercedes was tipped into a spin by Tim Slade as the pack funneled through the Turn 5/6 chicane. Davison’s car was then hit front-on by Fabian Coulthard, putting the former out on the spot. Coulthard managed to limp back to the pits for some repairs and managed to limp home in 24th place.
|2015 V8 Supercars ITM 500 Auckland – Race 28 Top-10 Finishers (21 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||24:48.838|
|2.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO Autosports||+ 4.384|
|3.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 5.015|
|4.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 7.954|
|5.||Scott Pye*||DJR Team Penske||+ 7.488|
|6.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 8.566|
|7.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 9.159|
|8.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 9.653|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 11.576|
|10.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 13.181|
*Pye was demoted from fourth to fifth for failing to cede position to Craig Lowndes as a result of leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage on Lap 20.
Image via V8 Supercars Championship