Unpredictable weather conditions were unable to stop Jamie Whincup taking an emphatic victory in the second race of the Clipsal 500. This was his fifth win in the past eight races at the Adelaide event, and his sixth Clipsal 500 race victory overall.
“This is a huge win for us,” said Whincup.
“Yesterday things didn't quite go our way but today we fought deep. Today's conditions don't get any tougher than that,” he remarked.
The race started in heavy rain making for exciting racing as the lead changed four times in the first half of the 77-lap event. Despite a poor start, dropping a place to a charging Lee Holdsworth, Whincup was soon back on the pace and duelling with pole-sitter Ford Performance Racing's Will Davison. In just three laps the lead swapped no fewer than seven times.
As the pair battled for the lead, the chasing pack began to catch up forming a seven car fight for the lead between Davison, Whincup, James Courtney, Rick Kelly, Holdsworth, Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen. Incredibly, van Gisbergen had climbed from 23rd to eighth in just nine laps.
As the track dried, tyre wear began to play a part. Whincup dropped off the pace, falling behind Toll Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney, who also got ahead of Davison to take the lead on lap 23. Dave Reynolds and Garth Tander regained their places from van Gisbergen and Davison slipped further back to third behind Rick Kelly. A downpour at turns seven and eight then gave the track some contrast, sending Craig Lowndes, Reynolds and Courtney all wide giving Rick Kelly the lead on lap 25.
Lap 26 marked the first round of pit-stops, and the changeable weather led to several last-second calls to remain on wet tyres. A brave Lee Holdsworth of Garry Rogers Motorsport was the only contender to opt for slicks. Holdsworth soon paid the price when he crashed into the wall at Turn 8 on his out-lap as the rain began to fall again. This triggered the safety-car and sparked panic in the pit-lane with more than half the field coming in for new wet tyres.
Just a few laps later, Team BOC's Jason Bright spun at turn two hitting the tyre wall hard, causing extensive damage to the front of his car. Bright limped back to the pits but the safety car was required while the debris was cleared. It was too late though for Team Vodafone's Craig Lowndes who picked up a puncture after running over the wreckage. Pitting again for new tyres dropped him from fifth to 22nd and took him out of sequence on pit strategy leaving Kelly, Jonathon Webb, Courtney, Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and Davison at the head of the queue.
Rick Kelly remained the leader at the restart, but a drying track allowed a charging Whincup to pass Courtney for third and then Webb for second a few laps later. By lap 45, Whincup had really taken the initiative, grabbing the lead from Kelly where he was to remain for the rest of the race.
The third safety car intervention came on Lap 49 when Gulf Western Oil's Warren Luff crashed at Turn 8. This led to a busy pit-lane area as many of the cars dived into the pits for their second and final pit-stops. With conditions improving on the circuit, most teams switched to slick tyres. The day was to go from bad to worse for Lowndes though as his Commodore was released into the path of Greg Murphy in the pit lane, spinning Lowndes at the exit. He was able to resume, but lost a number of places before being served with a drive-through penalty for the unsafe release.
At the restart Whincup led the field from Kelly and Webb, before Webb lost places to Courtney and Davison.
Having raced hard to close in on second, smoke then appeared from James Courtney's Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore. Seeing his chance to take the spot, Mark Winterbottom in the Orrcon Steel FPR car rubbed and bumped with Courtney for third. Winterbottom got by on lap 60, with Paul Dumbrell following him through. Dumbrell ran wide though at Turn 4 on lap 64 and fell back to fifth.
Several skirmishes broke out amongst the front-runners in the closing laps. Winterbottom sparred with Rick Kelly right up to the end of the race. Whilst Dumbrell clashed with race one winner Garth Tander for fifth place with both drivers lucky to escape punishment.
For the second day in a row, the race ran to time rather than distance – with 77 of the 78 laps completed. And it was to be Whincup that took the top-spot having pulled out a 1.3 second lead over Rick Kelly. Mark Winterbottom followed in third from Courtney, Tander and Dumbrell.
Whincup now has two firsts, a second and a third from the first four races of 2011.
The next round of the championship is in Hamilton, New Zealand, from April 15 to 17. However, the V8s will take part in a non-championship event at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next weekend.
Race 4 results:
|Pos||Entrant||Driver||Vehicle||Fastest Lap||Fastest Lap Time||Race Time||Laps||Points|
|1||TeamVodafone||Jamie Whincup||Commodore VE2||56||01:23:7463||02:08:50:3685||77||150|
|2||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly||Commodore VE2||65||01:24:0601||02:08:51:6891||77||138|
|3||Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon||Mark Winterbottom||Falcon FG||57||01:23:9120||02:08:52:4924||77||129|
|4||Toll Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Commodore VE2||62||01:23:8646||02:08:56:4576||77||120|
|5||Toll Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Commodore VE2||55||01:23:9994||02:08:58:6542||77||111|
|6||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Paul Dumbrell||Falcon FG||61||01:23:8679||02:08:59:4903||77||102|
|7||Trading Post FPR Falcon||Will Davison||Falcon FG||73||01:23:9642||02:09:00:1902||77||96|
|8||Jim Beam Racing||Steven Johnson||Falcon FG||69||01:24:3184||02:09:03:5433||77||90|
|9||Bundaberg Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Commodore VE2||60||01:23:9892||02:09:05:5473||77||84|
|10||Irwin Racing||Alex Davison||Falcon FG||65||01:24:1281||02:09:06:9681||77||78|
|11||Mother Energy Racing Team||Jonathon Webb||Falcon FG||59||01:24:1841||02:09:09:9789||77||72|
|12||TeamVodafone||Craig Lowndes||Commodore VE2||67||01:23:8833||02:09:18:4839||77||69|
|13||Lucky 7 Racing||Tim Slade||Falcon FG||62||01:24:5516||02:09:20:7673||77||66|
|14||Stratco Racing||David Reynolds||Commodore VE2||56||01:24:0691||02:09:22:7421||77||63|
|15||Triple F Racing||Dean Fiore||Falcon FG||60||01:24:6993||02:09:27:0074||77||60|
|16||Supercheap Auto Racing||Russell Ingall||Commodore VE2||68||01:24:1527||02:09:38:9436||77||57|
|17||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||Karl Reindler||Commodore VE2||56||01:24:4893||02:09:42:2242||77||54|
|18||SP Tools Racing||Shane van Gisbergen||Falcon FG||61||01:24:5568||02:09:57:1406||77||51|
|19||Pepsi Max Crew||Greg Murphy||Commodore VE2||65||01:24:4158||02:10:02:2334||77||48|
|20||Wilson Security Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Falcon FG||56||01:24:5674||02:09:27:6484||76||45|
|21||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Michael Caruso||Commodore VE2||63||01:24:6494||02:09:47:3581||76||42|
|22||Jim Beam Racing||James Moffat||Falcon FG||53||01:28:7877||02:09:53:6426||63||39|
|23||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Commodore VE2||56||01:24:3666||02:09:09:3153||59||36|
|DNF||Gulf Western Oil Racing||Warren Luff||Commodore VE2||47||01:33:6053||01:23:37:9145||47||0|
|DNF||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly||Commodore VE2||18||01:32:6870||57:07:8966||33||0|
|DNF||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Lee Holdsworth||Commodore VE2||20||01:32:4355||44:56:2681||27||0|
|DNF||Team BOC||Jason Bargwanna||Commodore VE2||1||01:59:5133||01:59:5133||1||0|