Jamie Whincup has taken his first win of the 2017 Supercars season after a great strategy call put him in the box seat for victory in Sunday’s race in Townsville.
Having to wait until the fourteenth race of this year, Whincup has equalled his team-mate Craig Lowndes’ record of Supercars wins, the pair now both on 105 but with almost ten years difference in the length of their careers.
In the grid setting top ten shootout, it was yet again Scott McLaughlin who scored the $1,000 cheque by taking his ninth pole for the season out of 14 races. Shane Van Gisbergen lined up alongside with David Reynolds, Whincup, Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert, Rick Kelly, Cam Waters, Garth Tander and Jason Bright completing the top ten.
The race start saw Reynolds make a blinder, forcing himself in to second place ahead of Whincup and Van Gisbergen while McLaughlin retained the lead. There was less action than Saturday’s opening tour though Whincup soon fought back against Reynolds to take second place.
A failed pass by Fabian Coulthard on Tim Slade saw the BJR car spun at the final turn, earning the #12 of Coulthard a 15 second penalty after work had been completed during his first stop.
Whincup triggered the first round of stops for the leaders, coming in and getting an undercut on McLaughlin who was passed at the hairpin after he came out of the pits from his stop. While the rest of the pack followed shortly after, it was clear the two horse race at the front would be between Whincup and McLaughlin.
Mostert and Reynolds came in earliest for the second round of pit stops on lap 40, race leader Whincup coming in on lap 41 while McLaughlin stayed circulating. Van Gisbergen was the next to come in a lap later, coming out behind Whincup.
McLaughlin pitted at the end of lap 43, topping his car up to the end and taking two new rear tyres. The stop wasn’t enough as McLaughlin came out a lap behind Whincup, though the gap was smaller than it was before the pit stops.
While Whincup held the lead, McLaughlin kept in touch, staying within around a second while battling with his cool suit freezing up, making it a harder day than expected at the office. Van Gisbergen started to range up on the lead pair in the final ten laps.
Despite the battles further back in the pack, nothing could stop Whincup from taking the win, taking points away from McLaughlin in the title battle. The #17 driver retained second with the #97 of Van Gisbergen filling the third spot on the podium.
Behind them, Winterbottom, Mostert, Tander, Moffat, Davison, Courtney and Lowndes completed the top ten while Coulthard, who entered the weekend as points leader, finished a lowly 21st.
|2017 Australian Supercars Watpac Townsville 400 – Race 14 Top-10 Finishers (70 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||1:28:12.5243|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske||+ 1.649|
|3.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 7.319|
|4.||Mark Winterbottom||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 31.424|
|5.||Chaz Mostert||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 34.619|
|6.||Garth Tander||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 35.016|
|7.||James Moffat||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 40.045|
|8.||Will Davison||TEKNO Woodstock Racing||+ 49.126|
|9.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||+ 1:00.605|
|10.||Craig Lowndes||TeamVortex||+ 1:01.922|
Image via Red Bull Content Pool