Jamie Whincup has held off his nearest Championship competitors to take the final race at the Phillip Island Sargent Security 360.
Despite starting from fifth, Whincup got a great start and wrestled second from Mark Winterbottom early in the first lap. His teammate was still ahead after an impressive pass on the Pepsi Max FPR car – and the Red Bulls raced side by side, before #1 took the lead on lap two from Craig Lowndes.
The Pedders STP Safety Car made it’s first appearance around the halfway mark, after Lee Holdsworth’s Mercedes-Benz AMG errantly lost a wheel due to a broken spindle.
Whincup’s lead was condensed and he would again have to keep his teammate at bay.
As they say, Safety Cars breed Safety Cars – an incident between David Reynolds and Chaz Motert will be investigated post-race. Mostert was turned around at the hairpin. And while he copped a tap from Garth Tander on his way past, Walkinshaw Racing stablemate Russell Ingall t-boned the car, causing extensive damage to the Supercheap Auto Racing Commodore and leaving the veteran scathing.
The race restarted with a handful of laps left, and it was business as usual for Whincup, staying out the front and leading until the finish.
Holding off his closest competitors means Whincup keeps grasp of the Championship with a 20-point buffer heading to the grand finale, the Sydney 500, early next month.
"It's certainly not breathing space!" Whincup said. "We really struggled for pace this weekend. The engineers made my car extremely quick for that one, an awesome battle with Mark and Lowndesy."
Whincup led home Winterbottom, Lowndes, Jason Bright, Fabian Coulthard, Will Davison, James Moffat, Rick Kelly, Alex DAvison and Shane van Gisbergen.
Others to note include Scott McLaughlin (who climbed from 21st) in 11, yesterday's winner Garth Tander in 15, Maro Engel the first of the Mercedes-Benzes home in 19th.