Nancy Knapp Schilke
Whincup extends points lead with 50th career victory
Jamie Whincup took the win today in the Falken Tasmania Challenge in the Australian V8 Supercars race 1 being held this weekend on the Symmons Plains Raceway. The TeamVodafone driver also extended his points lead in this year’s championship fight, and he did it in a dominant fashion besting his main rival and team mate Craig Lowndes. Third went to Toll HRT’s Garth Tander. The trio gave Commodore the sweep in the first of the two races they will contest this weekend.
Taking his eighth win of the 2011 season, Whincup held off Lowndes to take the checkered flag by a margin of seven seconds.
“This is the start of the end, we wanted to come out strong and that's exactly what's happened. The car was fantastic and I couldn't be happier," said Whincup. “Every race is unbelievably important from here on in and we need to keep doing a good solid job."
Starting from pole, Whincup made a rare error when he had too much wheel spin on the standing start, allowing Mark Winterbottom in the Orrcon Falcon to take the early lead. Then luck was on the points leader’s side when Winterbottom had an understeer issue in the middle of a turn on the 11th lap. In the meantime, Lowndes was climbing his way up the leaderboard.
Lowndes had his work cut out for him as both Will Davison (Trading Post Falcon) and Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Falcon) were not making it easy for him to make the needed pass. Once he took over second, Lowndes gave chase on his teammate.
“Second was the best we could do today. There's a lot of points still to be had but I've got to beat Jamie to make any indent on his championship lead,” said Lowndes. "While we're running second we're not doing that so we'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Tander had an amazing run after starting the race 10th on the grid but he kept making up ground during that same timeframe, Alex Davison was also sneaking to take a position out of the hands of van Gisbergen. Tander’s move onto the podium was made a bit easier when the two Ford Performance Racing teammates – Winterbottom and W. Davison – were concentrating on their own fight.
"We had some dramas with the car in qualifying so we should have been better than where we were,” Tander said. "A few guys made some mistakes in front of us which made it easier, but the car was really good and I look forward to qualifying a bit further up for tomorrow."
Winterbottom ended fourth followed by teammate Will Davison. Sixth went to Alex Davison while van Gisbergen finished seventh.