Fresh from scoring his maiden race win at his 227th attempt, Tim Slade made it two from two to finish the Winton round of the V8 Supercars Championship in unbeaten fashion.
The Brad Jones Racing driver finished ahead of Prodrive Racing’s Mark Winterbottom in Sunday’s 67-lap feature race which was dominated by varying pit strategies.
The day’s earlier qualifying session had seen Chaz Mostert claim pole position, headlining an all-Ford front row alongside DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard.
Mostert appeared to bobble as the lights turned green – falsely giving the impression that Coulthard had jumped the start – and that allowed the New Zealander to claim the lead from Mostert, Craig Lowndes and Slade.
Mostert and Lowndes soon peeled into the pits to take on their compulsory fuel drops, leaving Coulthard to fend off Slade for the lead. The pair pitted on Lap 19 – moments before a Safety Car was called – and Slade managed to leapfrog Coulthard in the process.
The main runners were divided on pit strategy – Slade opted for two stops, with Winterbottom going for a more aggressive three-stop plan – and the race ebbed and flowed with fuel loads and tyre life playing a major factor.
Ultimately Slade’s strategy proved to be the correct call, allowing him to coast to a 6.8-second margin of victory over Winterbottom, who held firm against the pressure from Coulthard in the closing stages.
Shane van Gisbergen overcame a mistake in qualifying with a canny race that took full advantage of the Safety Car interruption to climb to fourth place ahead of the Ford duo of Cameron Waters and Scott Pye, who rounded out an excellent race for Prodrive Racing and DJR Team Penske respectively.
Like van Gisbergen, David Reynolds stormed through the field from seventeenth on the grid to finish a fine seventh in his Erebus Motorsport Holden, ahead of the Triple Eight Engineering Holdens of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. Michael Caruso rounded out the top ten as the best-placed Nissan.
Lowndes had an uncharacteristically scrappy race, wildly running off track and struggling to the finish with a broken header.
His race was nothing in comparison to Mostert, whose team fluffed their strategy call during the Safety Car by gambling on running to the finish after the restart. Trying to pick his way through the field, he made contact with HRT’s James Courtney and punctured a tyre – he eventually finished twentieth.
With Scott McLaughlin finishing eleventh in his Volvo, a double-podium result for Winterbottom puts the defending champion back on top of the Drivers’ Championship standings with a 27-point margin over the New Zealander.
The field heads north to contest the SkyCity Triple Crown at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway on the weekend of 18-19 June.
|2016 V8 Supercars Woodstock Winton SuperSprint – Race 11 Top-10 Finishers (67 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Tim Slade||Brad Jones Racing||1:33:49.393|
|2.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 6.785|
|3.||Fabian Coulthard||DJR Team Penske||+ 7.421|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Racing Team||+ 12.938|
|5.||Cameron Waters||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 17.723|
|6.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 19.400|
|7.||David Reynolds||Erebus Motorsport V8||+ 19.663|
|8.||Jamie Whincup||Triple Eight Engineering||+ 22.227|
|9.||Craig Lowndes||Triple Eight Engineering||+ 25.756|
|10.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 29.990|
Image via Motorsport.com