Jamie Whincup narrowly held off TeamVodafone teammate Craig Lowndes to become the first driver to win back-to-back races at the Sucrogen Townsville 400, with victory in Sunday’s 200km V8 Supercars race.
Despite starting from ninth on the grid, the three-time champion made it two wins from two starts, and five from eight at the Reid Park street circuit, after holding off Lowndes by just one second in an intense ten-lap sprint to the finish, with Will Davison rounding out the podium.
Ford Performance Racing’s three cars had dominated the early stages of the race with The Bottle-O Racing Team's David Reynolds starting on pole for the first time in his V8 career. However, the TeamVodafone pair overhauled the Ford trio at the final round of pitstops, with the top-five order reversing completely after the second and final sequence.
Lowndes jumped Orrcon Steel FPR's Mark Winterbottom as both stopped on lap 42. Then one lap later the top three cars of Reynolds, Whincup and Davison pitted, with Whincup leapfrogging the FPR pair and rejoining just in front of Lowndes and Davison, while Winterbottom and Reynolds fell to fourth and fifth.
Further back in the field, Fabian Coulthard’s Lockwood Racing Commodore stopped out on track after mechanical dramas resurfaced following earlier contact with Rick Kelly (Jack Daniel's Racing). This brought out the first and only Safety Car on lap 60 and set up the final 10-lap thriller.
It was an impressive drive from Lowndes after he had earlier lost track position to Whincup on lap 36 when he accidentally triggered his pitlane speed-limiter with an aggressive hit on the turn 12 kerbs. Whincup was forced to defend hard against the determined Lowndes with the pair swapping positions twice. Despite Lownde’s best efforts, Whincup held firm to claim the win and extend his championship lead over Winterbottom to 100 points. However, TeamVodafone will be investigated post-race for spinning wheels while still on the pit lane jacks during Whincup’s pitstop.
“As the race played out I just kept chipping away,” Whincup said.
“They called me a bit soft after Darwin so I thought I’ll go pretty hard and give it all I’ve got.
“The rear tyres were pretty shot at the end there.”
Will Davison took third ahead of Garth Tander, salvaging something from the weekend after his disappointing 12th-place finish in Saturday’s race. The Tradingpost FPR pilot now lies third in the Championship standings, 140 points adrift of Whincup.
Tander who had charged through from 13th on the grid was gifted ten seconds with the appearance of the Safety Car. With slightly newer tyres, the Holden Racing Team driver used the re-start to great effect, taking fifth after a costly mistake from Reynolds allowed him through and then passing Winterbottom for fourth with three laps to go.
SP Tools Racing's Shane van Gisbergen made great inroads from his 18th place grid slot to take seventh, with Tekno Autosports' teammates Jonathon Webb and Michael Patrizi and Team BOC's Jason Bright rounding out the top ten.
Elsewhere in the field, Supercheap Auto Racing's Russell Ingall had an early end to his race after being tagged from behind by Team iSelect's Taz Douglas on the opening lap, with IRWIN Racing's Lee Holdsworth and Fujitsu Racing GRM's Michael Caruso also caught up in the shunt.
James Courtney started well on the soft tyres after qualifying in the top 10 taking the race lead, but the Holden Racing Team driver slumped to fifteenth after contact with Patrizi bent his steering late in the race.
Jacques Villeneuve, in for the injured Greg Murphy took 24th in the Pepsi Max Crew entry, albeit one lap down.
The next round is at the Queensland Raceway for the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 on 4-5 August.
Race 15 result:
|1||TeamVodafone||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:33:49.2414|
|2||TeamVodafone||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:33:51.0851|
|3||Trading Post FPR Ford||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:33:54.6063|
|4||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:33:56.2360|
|5||Orrcon Steel FPR Ford||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:33:57.3700|
|6||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:33:57.7084|
|7||SP Tools Racing||Shane Van Gisbergen||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:00.6448|
|8||Tekno Autosports||Jonathon Webb||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:01.8279|
|9||Tekno Autosports||Michael Patrizi||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:02.4474|
|10||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:02.7680|
|11||VIP Petfoods||Steve Owen||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:03.6201|
|12||Lucky 7 Racing||Tim Slade||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:03.8748|
|13||Jim Beam Racing||Steven Johnson||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:04.9348|
|14||Team Hiflex||Tony D'Alberto||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:05.3293|
|15||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:09.5015|
|16||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Alexandre Premat||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:09.9376|
|17||Team iSelect||Taz Douglas||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:10.8412|
|18||Jim Beam Racing||Dean Fiore||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:11.3015|
|19||Wilson Security Racing||David Wall||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:12.2236|
|20||Jack Daniel's Racing||Rick Kelly||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:13.4889|
|21||Jack Daniel's Racing||Todd Kelly||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:14.2981|
|22||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||Karl Reindler||Holden Commodore VE2||72||01:34:15.6670|
|23||Team Norton DJR||James Moffat||Ford Falcon FG||72||01:34:16.0794|
|24||Pepsi Max Crew||Jaques Villeneuve||Holden Commodore VE2||71||01:34:20.0610|
|25||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Michael Caruso||Holden Commodore VE2||66||01:34:28.4258|
|26||Irwin Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Falcon FG||62||01:34:30.4815|
|DNF||Lockwood Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VE2||44||01:13:24.8368|
|DNF||Supercheap Auto Racing||Russell Ingall||Holden Commodore VE2||7||10:21.5528|