A pit stop to change flat-spotted tyres on lap 13 turned out to be the lucky number for Will Power and Mika Salo today at the ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600.
Struggling with balance, braking and slipping down the order, Finnish driver Salo used a well-timed Safety Car to pit the #6 TradingPost FPR Ford, change tyres and take their strategy off-sequence in a move that would ultimately hand them the race.
It also gave Davison some Gold Coast redemption – bouncing back superbly after parking the car in the tyre wall yesterday and ending a strong run.
That was no issue today - Davison drove 30 mistake-free laps under sustained pressure from Jamie Whincup in the race’s closing stint to take his 13th career win.
The win for Ford also ended an 11-race winning streak by TeamVodafone and gave Ford Performance Racing their first success since May.
“I was just focussing on getting through the opening lap of my stint,” Davison admitted.
“I had a good, hard look at myself last night and I really need to learn about how to string two days together because we have had so much speed and nothing to show.
“Mika did a superb job with that opening stint and all the FPR boys were superb. It feels great.”
A lengthy 56-lap opening stint from Salo was a gamble from the FPR team that ultimately paid off, Davison assuming in the race lead with a clear run to the finish.
Whincup and co-driver Sebastian Bourdais relied on a more regular two-stop strategy and their last stop for fuel, with 20-laps to go, dropped them from the race lead and into the thick of the fight – one they would ultimately be unable to win.
Bourdais led the race early and his combined finishes of first and second across the weekend handed him second Dan Wheldon memorial trophy.
“It is a heavy trophy to carry,” Bourdais said.
“I came here hoping to help Jamie extend his series lead and we have done that. To win the trophy again is great and overall it was a very good weekend.”
As he did yesterday, Mark Winterbottom charged the #5 Orrcon FPR Ford through the pack in the closing stages to finish third, after Will Power ran the car in the same position early in the race.
Their strategy saw them hovering towards the bottom of the top five once the field had sorted itself, Winterbottom again scything past Garth Tander and Tim Slade to get himself to third.
The Lucky 7 Racing Ford of Slade and David Brabham were fourth, pitting extremely early and going off sequence in a move that gave them the lead with 20 laps to go – though they ultimately didn’t have the pace to hold off the flying FPR and TeamVodafone cars that have dominated the season so far.
A long early stint from Brabham kept the car in contention for Slade to run it to the flag.
Garth Tander and Ryan Briscoe again carved through the field to a second Top 5 finish in two days, having started only 12th.
Craig Lowndes / Richard Lyons, Russell Ingall / Peter Dumbreck, Lee Holdsworth / Simon Pagenaud, Shane van Gisbergen / Jeroen Bleekemolen and Fabian Coulthard / Nicholas Minassian completed the Top 10.
The race featured five safety car periods however avoid the mass carnage of yesterday’s race – the international co-drivers all doing a superb job starting today.
20 of the 25 starters finished, with 17 on the lead lap at the end.
The Norton DJR Ford of James Moffat and Peter Kox didn’t go further than the race start, whilst the Team BOC Holden was sidelined with Stephane Sarrazin behind the wheel after only 18 laps when the car broke a suspension upright.
The rebuilt Michael Caruso / James Hinchcliffe #34 Fujitsu Racing Holden made it no further than their first stop when the car was released with only three of the four wheels attached, whilst the Jack Daniel’s Racing entry of Tim Blanchard and Marco Andretti retired on lap 69 with damage.
The results extend Jamie Whincup’s title lead with Mark Winterbottom now more than 200 points behind heading into the next Event, at Abu Dhabi, in two weeks time.
More than 180,000 people attended the three-day ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600 event this weekend.
Source: V8 Supercars Australia