Mark Winterbottom and Richard Lyons have taken Ford Performance Racing's first win of the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship in today’s final and controversial race of the Armor All Gold Coast 600.
Winterbottom completed a brilliant drive to win the second of the weekend's 300km races on the Surfers Paradise street circuit to turn around what has been a challenging season, but it was the issue of kerb-hopping that dominated the day's racing.
In a repeat of yesterday's race, SÃ©bastien Bourdais led away from pole, with every team opting to run their international driver at the start, barring Westrac Racing who started with regular driver Dean Fiore. Having stretched a 2.6 second margin over TeamVodafone team-mate Andy Priaulx who had made a great start from fifth to second at the first corner, Bourdais pitted at the end of lap 34 (the minimum number of laps required by international drivers to complete) to hand over to Jamie Whincup.
A lap later, Priaulx pitted for Craig Lowndes with the team short-fuelling the #888 car to leap-frog Whincup. But Whincup soon had the spot back with an assertive move on Lowndes' out-lap, leaving Winterbottom a full 20 seconds back by the time the safety car appeared for debris on lap 44.
Ten laps later, Fiore's co-driver Gianni Morbidelli was turned by Wilson Security Racing's Tony D’Alberto, hitting the wall and triggering the second safety car. Facing the wrong way, Morbidelli instructed by stewards, turned around but straight into the path of Team BOC driver Jason Bright as he rounded the blind corner. The resulting contact put both cars of the race.
With the safety car coinciding with the pit-window, most drivers headed in for their final fuel stop. This played into Winterbottom's hands and he made the jump on Lowndes who was forced to queue behind Whincup, dropping him from second to 12th. Lowndes lost out again after stopping for tyres and he tumbled down a further eight places to 20th by the chequered flag.
Up to second, Winterbottom hunted down Whincup making his move with just eight of the 102 laps remaining. He then put space between himself and Whincup before clinching the win and breaking Ford’s four-month race win drought.
“Soft tyres have been our weakness but now we’ve got two podiums and a win so the boys have done a fantastic job,” said Winterbottom after the race.
“It was hairy, that was a lot of work. It was one of the great races and I loved it!”
But Whincup was still the weekend's big winner. With six races remaining, he extends his championship standings lead to 143 points over team-mate Lowndes.
Lee Holdsworth and Simon Pagenaud claimed the final podium position from Greg Murphy and Oliver Gavin after a heated battle which saw the Fujitsu Racing and Pepsi Max Crew-backed Commodores' trading positions several times in the second half of the race. Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly and co-driver Jorg Bergmeister took fifth, while Toll Holden Racing Team's James Courtney finished sixth despite co-driver Darren Turner receiving a contentious kerb hopping drive-through. Finishing seventh, eighth and ninth respectively were VIP Petfoods' Steve Owen/Boris Said, Supercheap Auto Racing's Russell Ingall/Jan Magnussen and Jack Daniel's Racing's Todd Kelly/Richard Westbrook while Lucky 7 Racing'sTim Slade and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top ten despite breaking an anti-roll bar early in the race.
But it had been in the middle of the field where controversy had reigned. A new sensor system designed to prevent drivers from short-cutting the corners broke down midway through the race and several drivers copped drive-through penalties for breaching the “kerb hop” rule, before the sensor was deemed to be malfunctioning and switched off altogether by officials.
After the race, Winterbottom's co-driver Northern Irishman Richard Lyons who had been drafted in at short-notice after Will Power was injured in the Las Vegas IndyCar crash that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon, paid tribute to his friend:
“To my friend Dan Wheldon who passed away, I’ve done this one for you mate,” said Lyons.
And after claiming the win alongside Whincup in race one on Saturday and second in Sunday’s race two, SÃ©bastien Bourdais was named the best performing international driver. He was presented with the Dan Wheldon Memorial trophy, named in honour of the two-time Indy 500 winner.
“I think it's been a great showing for Dan, I’m sure he would have loved it,” an emotional Bourdais said.
“I’m so sad he wasn’t a part of it this weekend, this means a whole lot.”
The V8 Supercars Championship heads to Tasmania in three weeks' time for the Falken Tasmania Challenge at the Symmons Plains circuit.
Race 21 Results:
|Pos||Entrant||Driver||Vehicle||Fastest Lap||Fastest Lap Time||Race Time||Laps||Points|
|1||Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon||Mark Winterbottom / Richard Lyons||Falcon FG||72||01:11:3618||02:14:08:1572||102||150|
|2||TeamVodafone||Jamie Whincup / Sebastian Bourdais||Commodore VE2||71||01:11:2264||02:14:09:7136||102||138|
|3||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Lee Holdsworth / Simon Pagenaud||Commodore VE2||76||01:11:5300||02:14:11:2614||102||129|
|4||Pepsi Max Crew||Greg Murphy / Oliver Gavin||Commodore VE2||75||01:11:4242||02:14:16:8560||102||120|
|5||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Rick Kelly / Jorg Bergmeister||Commodore VE2||76||01:11:6639||02:14:19:4365||102||111|
|6||Toll Holden Racing Team||James Courtney / Darren Turner||Commodore VE2||65||01:11:4998||02:14:20:1081||102||102|
|7||VIP Petfoods||Steve Owen / Boris Said||Commodore VE2||76||01:11:1808||02:14:21:6450||102||96|
|8||Supercheap Auto Racing||Russell Ingall / Jan Magnussen||Commodore VE2||65||01:11:0795||02:14:23:0963||102||90|
|9||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Todd Kelly / Richard Westbrook||Commodore VE2||72||01:11:3129||02:14:23:4926||102||84|
|10||Lucky 7 Racing||Tim Slade / Helio Castroneves||Falcon FG||84||01:11:4850||02:14:23:7146||102||78|
|11||Stratco Racing||David Reynolds / Alex Tagliani||Commodore VE2||84||01:11:4621||02:14:25:2390||102||72|
|12||Jim Beam Racing||Steven Johnson / Dirk Muller||Falcon FG||76||01:11:6283||02:14:25:7292||102||69|
|13||Mother Energy Racing Team||Jonathon Webb / Gil de Ferran||Falcon FG||78||01:11:3920||02:14:25:8078||102||66|
|14||Trading Post FPR Falcon||Will Davison / Mika Salo||Falcon FG||102||01:10:0851||02:14:27:8610||102||63|
|15||Bundaberg Racing||Fabian Coulthard / Patrick Long||Commodore VE2||94||01:10:6150||02:14:29:9115||102||60|
|16||SP Tools Racing||Shane van Gisbergen / Emanuele Pirro||Falcon FG||82||01:10:4412||02:14:35:2921||102||57|
|17||Jana Living Racing||Jason Bargwanna / Allan Simonsen||Commodore VE2||90||01:10:6329||02:14:47:1937||102||54|
|18||Irwin Racing||Alex Davison / Marc Lieb||Falcon FG||89||01:11:6034||02:14:51:5961||102||51|
|19||Wilson Security Racing||Tony D’Alberto / Vitantonio Liuzzi||Falcon FG||94||01:10:8161||02:14:52:1149||102||48|
|20||TeamVodafone||Craig Lowndes / Andy Priaulx||Commodore VE2||97||01:11:0606||02:15:01:2709||102||45|
|21||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Michael Caruso / Augusto Farfus Jr||Commodore VE2||49||01:11:8587||02:14:47:7245||99||42|
|22||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||Karl Reindler / Fabrizio Giovanardi||Commodore VE2||66||01:13:2228||02:15:06:6059||98||39|
|23||Toll Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander / Ryan Briscoe||Commodore VE2||64||01:11:5843||02:14:27:1564||82||36|
|DNF||Jim Beam Racing||James Moffat / Joey Hand||Falcon FG||73||01:11:5764||01:54:42:4298||77||0|
|DNF||Westrac Racing||Dean Fiore / Gianni Morbidelli||Falcon FG||51||01:13:4850||01:10:11:7701||51||0|
|DNF||Team Boc||Jason Bright / Sarrazin Stephane||Commodore VE2||49||01:13:0062||01:11:49:3570||51||0|
|DNF||Gulf Western Oil Racing||Warren Luff / Marino Franchitti||Commodore VE2||10||01:14:4973||39:40:4682||15||0|
|DNF||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Paul Dumbrell / Christian Klein||Falcon FG||–||00:00:0000||00:00:0000||0||0|