WHINCUP RECLAIMS SERIES LEAD IN TASMANIA
Jamie Whincup was an emphatic winner in today's two races at Symmons Plains, taking out round 13 of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series and reclaiming the series lead from Garth Tander with one round left to run.
After joining Tander on the front row for this morning's opening 50 lap stint, Whincup got the jump on the Holden pilot to lead the field into the first corner.
From there it was straightforward for the Caltex-backed #88 TeamVodafone Falcon, coming home with the race two win before backing up just hours later with the race three win.
While Whincup's performance was almost faultless today, both he and team-mate Craig Lowndes were greatly assisted by lightning stops from their pit crew, who provided them with an extra edge over the competition.
While missing out on a round podium, Lowndes showed what he was made of during both of today's races.
The 1996 and 1998 Symmons Plains victor came back from minor incidents in each race to finish 6th and 5th respectively, securing the Caltex-backed #888 TeamVodafone Falcon 5th for the round.
The result sees Lowndes third on the championship leader board in front of Rick Kelly, who, along with second-placed Tander, was forced to retire when his engine blew.
Next in the Caltex contingent was the #4 Jeld-Wen Falcon of James Courtney, who was on the comeback from a lacklustre qualifying effort and a drive-through penalty in race one.
Starting this morning's race two from 28th, Courtney's pit stop strategy paid off to see the Caltex-backed driver come home in eighth position.
Once back in the points, Courtney was amidst the action in race three, coming home in sixth and tenth for the round.
Courtney's team-mate Russell Ingall overcame adversity to recover with a top twenty round result and points in the final race.
After having to contend with brake and handling problems on the #9 Caltex Racing Falcon in yesterday's opening race, Ingall charged back through the field in race two before being forced to make an unscheduled spot in the dying laps due to a flat front tyre.
The set-back may have put Ingall at the rear of the grid for the start of this afternoon's final 50 lap tilt, but that wasn't enough to stop the former champion from making it into the points, with the Gold Coast pilot eventually coming home in 13th.
Jamie Whincup was joined on the Symmons Plains winners' podium by Steve Richard and Mark Winterbottom.
The final round of the championship will take place at Phillip Island, Victoria, in two weeks time, with the battle for the series crown set to come down to the wire.
Russell Ingall - Driver of the #9 Caltex Racing Falcon "It's been a really tough weekend," said Ingall.
"We pulled back some ground yesterday only to find ourselves back down there having to do it all again.
"Brakes have been the big factor here. You get a few good laps and then they are gone and that makes it pretty hard to race.
"We climbed back up to 13th again today but it didn't really help us points wise and we've suffered in the championship as a result."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Race two was really a battle of brake attrition with the guys who were getting clear air able to advance better than those who were dicing for position. Unfortunately I was dicing quite regularly for position," said Lowndes.
"Once again the boys did some great pit stops to ensure I remained competitive but this track is so difficult to overtake even though I had good race pace.
"It is with a sense of deja-vu' that the Team is going into the final championship round seven points ahead rather than seven points behind. Let's just hope we can achieve a better result than last year and we have a fair and equal fight."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It is great to overcome the bad memories of both last year's 14 second event and of a fortnight ago at Bahrain," said Whincup.
"I really want to dedicate this win to the team. The pit-stop guys got me back out on the track in the lead every time.
"Leading the championship puts a lot of pressure on the team heading into the final round but I am more than confident that both the team and myself have got what it takes to give it a red hot go -- perhaps a bit of luck would also be handy."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "We finished today where we should have been all weekend," said Courtney.
"But with a bad qualifying session and the drive-through penalty yesterday, it really set us back.
"It's frustrating because it's another weekend that could have been.
"We managed to get some points from this weekend and maintain our position in the Championship.
"We will see if we can pull back a couple of more positions at Phillip Island."