Jamie Whincup has continued his relentless clawback of points after taking his second win of the season in Symmons Plains.
The defending champion cleared the pack after the round of pit stops and didn’t look back, winning by a clear margin which has moved him up to third in the title standings.
In the new qualifying format it was Shane van Gisbergen who took his third pole position of the season, fending off Red Bull Holden Racing teammate Whincup to the number one spot. Scott McLaughlin forced himself into the Triple Eight sandwich in third, just pipping Craig Lowndes who made it three cars from the same stable in the top four.
Jack Le Brocq made a surprise appearance in the top ten, qualifying ninth for the first time in his career in his TEKNO Holden. Conversely, the Tickford cars struggled for pace; its best performer being Cam Waters in 13th with his teammates in 15th, 17th and 19th.
While van Gisbergen held the lead on the run to Turn 1, Lowndes made an electric jump off the line and got on the inside of Whincup but had to fall behind his teammates while relegating McLaughlin to fourth.
Shortly after the start, van Gisbergen came in for his pit stop on Lap 5, not taking on fuel and letting Whincup take the race lead. McLaughlin took his stop only a few laps later, coming out in line with his Kiwi counterpart. The pair banged door handles on the way to the hairpin with van Gisbergen prevailing in the end.
Whincup and Lowndes pitted from the lead on Lap 12, both popping out ahead of the duelling Kiwis but Lowndes ran wide at the hairpin and allowed his teammate through to make it a Red Bull 1-2 up front.
David Reynolds came in from the race lead on Lap 20, returning to the track behind Fabian Coulthard – effectively seventh on the road – while Whincup, the first on the track of those who stopped, was in tenth.
Chaz Mostert brought the heat to the pits, coming in for his stop on Lap 23 with an exhaust fire which meant his crew couldn’t fit the left rear tyre, forcing the car to stop only metres after leaving the pit bay. The extinguishers seemed to affect Mostert who climbed out of the car looking ill.
James Courtney made the best of fresh tyres to get past McLaughlin and van Gisbergen as the pair dropped back through the pack, relegating spots to Reynolds and Coulthard with 20 laps to go.
McLaughlin’s woes were attributed by his team as a electrical sensor issue, not allowing the car to reach its top speed up and down the two long straights.
Out front, no one could stop Whincup from taking his twelfth win at Symmons Plains and the 110th of his overall career, coming home ahead of Lowndes and Courtney who have struggled for strong finishes in the past year.
The top ten was rounded out by Reynolds, Coulthard, van Gisbergen, Tim Slade, Scott Pye, McLaughlin and Le Brocq who secured his first top ten result as a full time driver.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool