Will Davison and co-driver Mika Salo have won the final 300km race at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 after an electrifying sprint to the flag.
After a disappointing race on Saturday when he hit the tyre barrier at turn 11 straight after the driver change, Davison made amends delivering his seventh race win of the season and ending TeamVodafone’s 11-race winning streak in the process.
The victory came after an immense double stint by Salo, with the Finn driving 56 laps – 22 more than the minimum requirement – to put the Tradingpost FPR Falcon in a position to secure the win. Initially struggling with the car, Salo went off sequence, pitting to change his flat-spotted tyres under a timely Safety Car intervention appearance.
Opting to run the more conventional two-stop strategy, pole-man and race leader Sébastien Bourdais handed the TeamVodafone #1 car over to Jamie Whincup after his minimum 34 laps were complete. But after Whincup’s final stop for fuel, with 30 laps to run, Davison’s alternative strategy gave him the race lead after the pair dispatched of Lucky 7 Racing’s Tim Slade. Despite the longer tyre run, Davison fended off Whincup over a final seven lap sprint after a late-race safety car for debris bunched the field. The pair were separated by just 0.5s at the end of the 102 laps.
In a repeat performance of Saturday’s race Orrcon Steel FPR’s Mark Winterbottom charged through from fifth in the closing stages to finish third to maintain the championship pressure on Whincup.
The Lucky 7 Racing pairing had also opted to run an alternative strategy,with co-driver David Brabham putting in a double-stint that gave them the lead with 20 laps to go, but Slade didn’t have the pace to hold off the FPR and TeamVodafone cars and he crossed the line in fourth. Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander and Ryan Briscoe were behind in fifth after starting from 12th on the grid, with TeamVodafone’s Craig Lowndes and Richard Lyons were next in sixth with Russell Ingall/ Peter Dumbreck (Supercheap Auto Racing), Lee Holdsworth/ Simon Pagenaud (IRWIN Racing), Shane van Gisbergen/ Jeroen Bleekemolen (SP Tools Racing) and Fabian Coulthard/ Nicolas Minassian (Lockwood Racing) completing the top ten.
Having run in the top ten for most of the race, the driver pairings of Jonathon Webb/ Marc Lieb (Tekno Autsports) and James Courtney/ Darren Turner (Holden Racing Team) were both handed penalties for excessive kerb hopping and the two cars dropped down the order.
Just 24 cars started the race after Michael Patrizi in the #91 Tekno Autosports Commodore was ruled out after a crash in qualifying and the Tony D’Alberto/ Vitantonio Liuzzi (Team Hiflex), Karl Reindler/ Franck Montagny (Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing) and Greg Ritter/ Ricky Taylor (Fujitsu Racing GRM) pairings were forced to pull out after their cars sustained damage deemed too extensive to repair following the monstrous crash in race one.
The James Moffat/ Peter Kox Team Norton DJR entry was also sidelined after going no further than the race start with a driveline failure. Dick Johnson Racing teammate Gianni Morbidelli in the Jim Beam Racing entry stopped brilliantly to avoid a collision with the stricken Ford.
Stéphane Sarrazin in the Team BOC Holden had been running just outside the top ten when he hit the Turn 11 concrete on Lap 19, ending his and Jason Bright’s race.
Capping off a disastrous weekend for Garry Rogers Motorsport, Michael Caruso’s race also came to an abrupt end after his Fujitsu Racing GRM car was released from the pit-lane with only three of the four wheels attached.
Differential issues also forced Jack Daniel’s Racing’s Tim Blanchard and Marco Andretti out after 69 laps.
Victory for Whincup and Bourdais’ in the opening race combined with second place in the final race, handed Bourdais the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy for the second consecutive year as the best-placed international driver over the two races.
Whincup now leads Winterbottom by 218 points with just three events and seven races remaining.
Round 13 takes place in two weeks’ time as support to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on 2-4 November.