Jamie Whincup has cemented his place as the greatest driver in Supercars history by taking a historic win in today’s 200 kilometre race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The six-time series champion today eclipsed his team-mate Craig Lowndes’s race win record by winning his 106th Supercars race, almost a year after taking his 100th victory.
After the issues surrounding the restart after the Safety Car period in Saturday’s race, the stewards handed down a 33 second penalty to Shane Van Gisbergen and a further 18 seconds on Scott McLaughlin’s penalised time, effectively giving them both 33 seconds added to their original race finishes.
For a record-equalling 13th time, McLaughlin took pole for Sunday’s 200km feature race, now on par with Jamie Whincup’s 2013 record. Chaz Mostert lined up second ahead of the Triple Eight entries, Whincup winning the inter-team battle. Fabian Coulthard, Michael Caruso, Mark Winterbottom, Nick Percat, Tim Slade and Jason Bright completed the top ten qualifiers.
On the clean side of the track, Mostert got a rocket start, taking the lead ahead of Whincup and Van Gisbergen in to turn one. McLaughlin dropped behind his team-mate who was in fourth, Winterbottom following the pair.
David Reynolds came in for an unscheduled pit stop on lap three, suffering a front right puncture. He rejoined in last place but still on the lead lap. Craig Lowndes came in a few laps later, a suspected puncture forcing his car to be serviced to prevent issues.
Back at the front of the race, Whincup started to close in on Mostert as the pair continued to run away from the pack behind them, putting nearly three seconds between Whincup and Van Gisbergen.
As McLaughlin came to pit at the end of lap nine, Dale Wood’s right front tyre let go coming down the front straight, the Erebus driver lucky to pull up in the slip road.
On lap 10, Whincup came in to the pits just as Rick Kelly’s right rear tyre let go in spectacular fashion, disintegrating the bodywork on the Altima. Debris on the main straight forced the safety car to be deployed, triggering everyone’s first round of pit stops.
The race restarted on lap 14 with Whincup leading down the straight, followed by Mostert and McLaughlin. The championship leader had to contend with Wood who was still a lap down but passed him early on in the lap, not wanting the lead pair to run away so soon.
Will Davison was in fourth at the restart but lost a spot to Van Gisbergen on the opening lap, also coming under attack from Coulthard who got past on lap 15.
Contact between Alex Rullo and Cam Waters saw the Prodrive car spin at turn four. Both came in to pit at the end of the lap, Rullo with front right damage and Waters with a suffering left rear. Waters was pulled in to the garage so the team could work further on his car.
Whincup continued to stretch out his lead while Mostert started to see the car of McLaughlin become bigger in his mirrors. The pair were being stalked by van Gisbergen who didn’t have track position but needed a much shorter fill in his final pit stop.
A lock up while trying to overtake ensured McLaughlin lost a bit of time to Mostert but more importantly allowed van Gisbergen to close up even further, the trio split by a second at the halfway point of the race. Van Gisbergen finally got past on Lap 27, forcing McLaughlin wide at turn five which earned him a bad sportsmanship flag for repeated track limits violations.
The Kiwi pair came in for their pit stops at the same time, van Gisbergen with a much shorter fill allowing him to come out well ahead of McLaughlin. Whincup came in for his final pit stop and four fresh tyres on Lap 28, rejoining the race ahead of his team-mate but locking up at turn two, allowing the reigning champ to take the lead.
While Mostert and Coulthard continued to circulate, the gap between van Gisbergen and Whincup continued to tumbled while they started to come up against a legion of backmarkers. The lead pair came in at the end of Lap 34, Coulthard emerging in sixth with Mostert in seventh, about 15 seconds back from the lead.
With around 15 laps to go, the gap between the top two consistently remained at around half a second while McLaughlin in third was driving a lonely race, about two seconds behind the leaders but slowly gaining on the battling pair.
Van Gisbergen decided to give up the lead to his team-mate on Lap 41, going wide at turn three to let him past and lose as little time as possible to McLaughlin, the pair looking for redemption after Saturday’s headaches. The squabble allowed Coulthard to close up, making it a three-way fight for second after Whincup checked out at the front.
Coulthard made his way up to third on Lap 45, quickly making his way up the the bumper of van Gisbergen. Mostert closed up on McLaughlin, who was seemingly struggling to keep up with the two on newer Dunlops. Regardless, the battle raged on in the dying laps, van Gisbergen the obvious cork in the bottle yet still holding second place.
Second place was finally taken by Coulthard on Lap 50, getting past van Gisbergen at Turn 6 which allowed McLaughlin to close up and challenge for the final podium position. He nearly took the place on the penultimate lap but van Gisbergen was able to get the criss-cross and keep third heading in to the final lap.
Despite some moves on the last lap, van Gisbergen took third with Coulthard in second. However, no one could take today away from Whincup who crossed the line to take his 106th race victory, a new record in the Australian Touring Car Championship only 11 years after his first win at Adelaide in 2006.
McLaughlin and Mostert finished in the top five while Percat, Caruso, Bright, Reynolds and Todd Kelly finished up the top ten. Craig Lowndes came home last of the runners on the day where his race wins record was beaten.
|2017 Australian Supercars Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint – Race 18 Top-10 Finishers (52 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||1:24:01.8616|
|2.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske||+ 9.863|
|3.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 13.960|
|4.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske||+ 14.103|
|5.||Chaz Mostert||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 15.924|
|6.||Nick Percat||ACDelco Racing||+ 20.806|
|7.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 20.846|
|8.||Jason Bright||MEGA Racing||+ 25.643|
|9.||David Reynolds||Erebus Penrite Racing||+ 32.780|
|10.||Todd Kelly||Carsales Racing||+ 36.744|
Image via Keith McInnes