The International drivers may have wooed the crowd but it was the home grown stars that had the fans on their feet and in the grandstands cheering and booing as Jamie Whincup (Steve Owen) in the Team Vodafone Commodore and Kiwi young gun Shane...
The International drivers may have wooed the crowd but it was the home grown stars that had the fans on their feet and in the grandstands cheering and booing as Jamie Whincup (Steve Owen) in the Team Vodafone Commodore and Kiwi young gun Shane Van Gisbergen (John McIntyre) in the Stone Brothers/SP Tools Falcon battled it out in the dying stages of yesterday's thriller on the streets of the Gold Coast.
Whincup wasn't giving an inch and Van Gisbergen wasn't giving a quarter with a handful of laps to go. It was like a boxing match, both slugging it out right down to the chequered flag after 102 laps on what can only be described as a brutal circuit, regardless of whether you were a rookie or a seasoned veteran.
After finishing 3rd in Saturdays race, Van Gisbergen wanted the top spot on the podium for the second race and was hell bent on giving it his best shot. His first opportunity came after he bashed into the back of Whincup around the hairpin at the end of the front straight and almost succeeded. Such was the pounding that Van Gisbergen backed off slightly, perhaps fearing a black flag if he forced the two time champion into the concrete walls. When there was no hint of a penalty, the Kiwi continued to hammer Whincup, all the while Mark Winterbotom (Luke Youlden) was looming in the background waiting to pounce, but that wasn't to be.
Going into Turn 15 before pit straight Whincup backed off to prevent Van Gisbergen gaining any momentum with the finish line 400 metres in sight of them. The Kiwi was not going to take the spoils on this occasion, although he managed to step up the next rung on the podium with Winterbottom settling for 3rd after taking pole earlier in the day.
Whincup described the race as one of his best wins while Van Gisbergen was gracious in defeat claiming that he had the opportunity to stick it to the Holden driver but opted not to, he was intent on fighting fairly. "I could have gassed it but that wouldn't be fair. I thought I could have got around him but he put up a good fight" Van Gisbergen said.
There was no repeat of the carnage at the end of the front street compared to Saturday's race, with the International drivers who started in the cars opting to stick to instructions, although there was some biff, it was acceptable.
Again on the first lap the safety car was deployed after Jason Bright (Alain Menu) suffered engine problems and had to be towed. There would be four more further deployments before the race was over and Andrew Jones (Jason Richards) in the BOC Gases Holden must have got the wrong call when he backed off on the front straight causing American Scott Pruett (Nathan Pretty) in the Gulf Western Oils Commodore to slam into the back of him.
Other casualties included Garth Tander (Cameron McConville) who demolished the front left of the Toll HRT car. During qualifying he managed to scrap the wall at the same spot but wasn't as lucky this time.
Whincup's win has him knocking on the door of series leader James Courtney (Warren Luff) who finished 4th and the championship looks like it will go down to the wire in Sydney in six weeks time.
The 170,000 plus crowd certainly witnessed plenty of action and carnage over the three days and although the IndyCar circus was not coming to town, the 18 International drivers performed, albeit some too exuberant, although this was a learning curve for the majority of them. Next year it is anticipated that there will be an International driver in each car, rather than a team, according to V8 Supercar boss, Mr. Tony Cochrane.
Fans certainly received their money's worth at the track, and those that decided they wanted more action attended the 600 Sounds Concert over the three nights where they rocked to the sounds of The Angels, Mondo Rock and a host of Australian bands with a guest appearance by the Beach Boys.