Mark Winterbottom has notched up his third race victory of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship in an action-packed Race 10 at the Phillip Island 300.
The win puts the Orrcon Steel FPR Ford driver just 10 points behind series leader Jamie Whincup after a late-race smash eliminated the TeamVodafone driver and title rival Will Davison.
“What an awesome race! That was a good early birthday present so long as I get the same tomorrow it will be perfect!” Winterbottom commented.
“The car was perfect and the boys did an amazing job to put us on pole and back it up with a superior car this afternoon.
“If you lead the Championship everyone is chasing you and that's where I want to be, so to be just ten points off Whincup is a huge boost especially if we can do it all again tomorrow.”
SP Tools Racing pilot Shane van Gisbergen fought through from 11th on the grid surviving a high-speed slide before taking second, while his stable-mate Lucky 7 Racing's Tim Slade landed the final podium spot fending off Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander, IRWIN Racing's Lee Holdsworth and Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly at the end of the 32 lap (140km) race.
Jonathon Webb (Tekno Autsports), Jason Bright (Team BOC), Michael Patrizi (Tekno Autosports) and Steve Owen (V.I.P Petfoods) rounded out the top ten.
Front row starter David Reynolds led the early stages of the race after out-braking pole-sitter and teammate Winterbottom into the first corner, Trouble struck though at his first pit stop when a split fuel hose on his fuel rig prevented him from filling up, dropping the Bottle-O Racing Team driver out of contention.
Running one lap longer than Winterbottom at the pitstops, Davison rejoined ahead of his team-mate, though it only lasted a few laps before Winterbottom got back ahead with a bold move at the Hayshed corner on lap 19, after the pair duelled through several high-speed corners.
A late second Safety Car deployment for geese on the circuit then set-up a five-lap shootout to the finish, which would prove disastrous for both Davison and Whincup. At the restart, Winterbottom pulled a six car length advantage on his teammate Davison, while the charging van Gisbergen on fresher rubber attacked Davison for second. Van Gisbergen had a massive lose through Turn 1 and blocked Davison which let Whincup dive into second and brought Slade and Tander into the melee. Contact with Slade at the high speed turn three then sent Davison out onto the wet grass putting his FPR Ford into an uncontrollable state. Firing back out onto the track with broken steering, Davison speared into Whincup in a high impact contact which put both drivers out of the race.
It was also a tough day for Whincup's team-mate Craig Lowndes, who recovered from 24th to finish 13th after a drive-through penalty midrace for knocking Bright off the road at Turn 4.
The first of the race's two Safety Car interventions came after an incident on the opening lap left sent Alexandre Premat into the wall, stranding the Fujitsu Racing GRM Holden on the circuit with heavy rear-end damage.
Tomorrow's race is a longer, 200km sprint around the Phillip Island circuit.
Race 10 result:
|1||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel FPR Ford||Ford Falcon FG||32||55:50.2117|
|2||Shane Van Gisbergen||SP Tools Racing||Ford Falcon FG||32||55:56.6011|
|3||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing||Ford Falcon FG||32||55:58.7826|
|4||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||Holden Commodore VE2||32||55:58.8813|
|5||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing||Ford Falcon FG||32||55:59.1994|
|6||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||55:59.5815|
|7||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:00.8207|
|8||Jason Bright||Team BOC||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:01.0360|
|9||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:01.5036|
|10||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods||Ford Falcon FG||32||56:04.6353|
|11||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:05.1670|
|12||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:05.7651|
|13||Craig Lowndes||TeamVodafone||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:05.9541|
|14||Tony D'Alberto||Team Hiflex||Ford Falcon FG||32||56:06.5840|
|15||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:07.8323|
|16||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:07.9875|
|17||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing||Ford Falcon FG||32||56:08.4645|
|18||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:08.7102|
|19||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing||Ford Falcon FG||32||56:10.0649|
|20||Taz Douglas||Team iSelect||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:12.6382|
|21||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Ford Falcon FG||32||56:19.2988|
|22||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||Holden Commodore VE2||32||56:19.3377|
|23||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Holden Commodore VE2||31||56:14.0205|
|24||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew||Holden Commodore VE2||29||56:09.1013|
|DNF||Will Davison||Trading Post FPR Ford||Ford Falcon FG||28||49:33.0781|
|DNF||Jamie Whincup||TeamVodafone||Holden Commodore VE2||28||49:33.6198|
|DNF||James Moffat||Team Norton DJR||Ford Falcon FG||10||19:05.3119|
|DNF||Alexandre Premat||Fujitsu Racing GRM||Holden Commodore VE2||1||1:47.6263|