Whincup claims back-to-back V8 Supercar titles
TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup has claimed his second consecutive V8 Supercar Championship title after finishing fifth in today's inaugural race at Sydney's Olympic Park.
The dual champion qualified third for today's 250km leg and never once opted to cruise despite only needing to finish within the top 28. Whincup fought hard and gave his all as he battled with the leaders throughout the 2 hour race, even passing Garth Tander for the race lead on Lap 26.
A physically and emotionally drained Whincup admitted he had nothing left in the tank at the end of the gruelling race.
"This is an incredible feeling," Whincup said. "I didn't think there could be a better feeling than last year's (championship win) but this is unbelievable.
"It really is twice as hard to win the title a second time. There is a lot of pressure that goes with running the number one and you do become a bit of a target.
"I am very, very proud of what the team has achieved. I am just one part of the team and this championship victory has been a massive team effort," he acknowledged.
It was a tough day for teammate Craig Lowndes who had the arduous task of starting from 22nd on the grid after a horror qualifying run.
Lowndes had a sensational first half of the 74 lap race and was up into the top ten before his second pitstop. An altercation with Will Davison on Lap 42 of the race forced him into the pits for repairs and in turn put him 13 laps down.
The TeamVodafone pit crew worked frantically to replace two uprights and the left hand bottom steering arm and he eventually finished the race in 19th place.
"It was a disappointing finish because I got a sensational start and the car balance was great. We had a good strategy, I passed a lot of cars on the on the opening lap and through the first stop," Lowndes explained.
"After the second pitstop I clipped the wall coming onto the straight and Will (Davison) tried to out brake me down into Turn 1. He was a little bit too ambitious and we had contact which bent my steering quite badly.
"The team did a fantastic job to get me back out there and after today's experience I know just how important qualifying well will be tomorrow as it is very difficult to pass on this track. The gloves will definitely be off as the Team's Championship is still up for grabs," he added.
The Sydney 500 will conclude tomorrow with the final race of the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series to get underway at 2.35pm (AEDST).