Holden Racing Team pilot Garth Tander was the only driver to end Jamie Whincup's winning streak after taking both the 250 kilometre races around the streets of Adelaide. Whincup looked set to continue on his winning way after posting top times...
Holden Racing Team pilot Garth Tander was the only driver to end Jamie Whincup's winning streak after taking both the 250 kilometre races around the streets of Adelaide. Whincup looked set to continue on his winning way after posting top times in practice and qualifying and looked unstoppable, that is until Tander got the jump on him from the start.
Winning the first four races of the season in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain Whincup was backed to win the championship at the end of round two, particularly after Tander's disappointment at the Desert 400 where he sensed his season had ended, but the lanky West Australian always knew that he had the car to match it with Whincup, it was just a matter of how the races unfolded.
The Clipsal 500 was re-scheduled to the third round of the championship this year and the first race on "home soil" was always going to be a test for the management of V8 Supercars, the teams and drivers after rumors circulated that supporters would stay away in protest, but that didn't happen and it continued to be the four day festival it has been since the 80's when Formula One kicked it all off.
For Tander to win his team had to come up with a strategy to keep Whincup at bay, as he clearly had the faster car all weekend and that strategy paid off with just two fuel stops instead of the three that the other teams were relying on, the last just a splash and dash to the finish. It worked in HRT's favor with the safety car making an appearance after the concrete at Turn 12 started to break up and this allowed their number one driver to conserve much needed fuel to take him to the chequered flag.
Tander didn't have it all his own way with Jim Beam driver James Courtney and Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom knocking on the door throughout the dying stages of the race. Both the Ford drivers took it to Tander and Whincup who were all tied in a battle when the rain came. Courtney continued to pressure Whincup who was behind Tander in 2nd spot.
At every opportunity Courtney bumped Whincup until the under carriage ended on the track and Whincup was forced to pit lane for a "drive through" penalty resulting in him finishing 18th two places behind team mate Craig Lowndes who had a weekend he would rather forget after spinning off at the hairpin onto pit straight with a handful of laps to go. Team Vodafone boss Roland Dane was livid at the decision by officials to penalise Whincup and labeled the decision as ridiculous. Whincup wasn't as vocal, although disappointed he copped it on the chin saying, "That's motorsport".
Tander's win puts him in the running to win $2M in prize money, a new concept introduced by CEO Tony Cochrane for the driver who wins the four "Grand Slam" events. Having already won in Adelaide, all Tander has to do is win Phillip Island, Bathurst and Sydney, which he did last year.
Although he didn't make it onto the podium, former Holden driver Paul Dumbrell was the stand out driver of the weekend finishing 5th in both races in his new Bottle-O Racing backed Ford.