Whincup Wins Opening Abu Dhabi Race

by Andy Champness

Jamie Whincup has won the first of the weekend’s three Abu Dhabi races at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Starting alongside pole-sitter Will Davison, the pair ran side by side in to the first corner. Davison held on but the TeamVodafone driver made the move stick into the Turn 8 left-hander on the first of 12 laps and sprinted away to a comfortable victory.

Tradingpost FPR’s Davison then fell in to the clutches of Shane van Gisbergen, losing second briefly as the pair duelled over the next two laps. At the final corner on lap two, Davison regained position pulling out a gap on the SP Tools Racing driver and going on to finish 4.1s behind Whincup.

van Gisbergen remained third leading home stable-mates Lucky 7 Racing’s Tim Slade and IRWIN Racing’s Lee Holdsworth.

Having qualified in seventh, Mark Winterbottom initially lost ground falling to ninth. His speed kept him in it though and when Craig Lowndes ran wide after missing a braking marker, the Orrcon Steel FPR driver then set out after Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander, squeezing past on the final lap to take sixth.

With Tander seventh and Lowndes in eighth, Team Norton DJR’s James Moffat made up five places to finish ninth, while Tekno Autosports’ Jonathon Webb held on despite rear tyre wear to complete the top ten.

A second lap crash was the race’s only real drama, with Fujitsu Racing GRM’s Alexandre Premat being spun after a hit from behind when Team Hiflex driver Tony D’Alberto, Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney and Rick Kelly all made contact at the tight Turn 7. The damage bent Courtney’s control arm and he was forced to pit for repairs. Kelly, also sustained damage and his smoking Jack Daniel’s Racing Commodore pitted mid race with suspected oil cooler issues.

Whincup’s ninth win of the season gives him a lead of 250 points in the championship over Winterbottom.

With less than two hours between the first and second race, teams face a quick turnaround to repair any damage.

The opening race was the only one of the weekend to be run on the harder compound tyre, with the next two to use soft tyres.

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