Sydney Supercars: Whincup takes milestone victory

Sydney Supercars: Whincup takes milestone victory
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Aug 20, 2017, 5:57 AM

Jamie Whincup is now the standalone record holder in terms of career Supercars win, after a charging to his 106th series victory in Sydney.

 Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Race winner Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
 Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
 Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
 Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
 Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford
 Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford
 Race winner Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford, second place Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford

Whincup charged past teammate Shane van Gisbergen to win his 106th race, putting him one clear of Craig Lowndes on top of the all-time winners’ list.

He’s also now within 12 points of series leader Scott McLaughlin heading into the Season of Endurance, which kicks off at Sandown next month.

It was a dream start to the race for Chaz Mostert from the outside of the front row; not only did he make a smart getaway himself, but polesitter McLaughlin went nowhere, giving Mostert a clear run through Turn 1.

That left the Prodrive Ford in the lead, followed by the Red Bull Holdens of Whincup and van Gisbergen, and the two Penske Fords, Fabian Coulthard relegating McLaughlin back to fifth after sneaking up the inside at Turn 2.

The top five ran in relative formation across the first stint, Whincup applying pressure to Mostert while McLaughlin was glued to the back of his teammate. It was those two that decided to kickstart the first round of stops in terms of the leaders, McLaughlin pitting on Lap 9 before Whincup bailed out of the battle for the lead a lap later.

It proved to be a timely decision, particularly in Whincup’s case; moments after the #88 Holden left the pits, the Safety Car was called to clear up debris left on the front straight by Rick Kelly’s spectacular tyre failure.

That meant everyone who hadn’t stopped did so immediately, allowing Whincup to jump Mostert, while McLaughlin cleared van Gisbergen and Coulthard – who both took on more fuel than the other leaders.

When the race restarted on Lap 13 Whincup was able to bolt, pulling out a 6s lead by Lap 25. Mostert, meanwhile, bottled up McLaughlin and van Gisbergen, which played into the hands of van Gisbergen who was looking at a shorter second stop.

On Lap 27 van Gisbergen dived past McLaughlin at Turn 4 to take third spot, before the pair of Kiwis made their second stops at the end of the same lap. They popped out in the same order, but with van Gisbergen now closer to four seconds clear of McLaughlin.

Two laps later Whincup gave up his now 7s lead and hit the lane. As he exited the pits van Gisbergen came flying through Turn 1, the pair meeting at the apex of Turn 2. A small lock-up from Whincup on cold tyres made the difference, van Gisbergen muscling his way into the effective lead.

Mostert and Coulthard waited until Lap 34 to make their second stops, the Coulthard jumping the former race leader thanks to needing a little less fuel. The pair came out 15-odd seconds behind the Red Bulls out front, but with significantly younger tyres at their disposal.

With 10 laps to go Coulthard was within 5s of the leaders, while Whincup, with the slightly better rubber of the two Triple Eight cars, was still buried behind van Gisbergen. At Turn 3 on Lap 42 that finally changed, van Gisbergen making it easy for Whincup to take over the lead.

It proved to be a race-winning move, Whincup skipping away to a 9.8s victory.

“I knew it was going to be a battle right at the end there,” said Whincup.

“Thanks to my teammate, we look after each other here at Red Bull, for letting me through. My car was quick, and I thought if Fabs and Chaz had got through earlier it would have been on, so I put my head down and pushed hard.

“I’m not getting too excited about the numbers, but it’s certainly a good feeling to get the win today.”

While Whincup did a bolter after getting in front, van Gisbergen wound up with mirrors full of Penskes in the closing stages of the race.

For a while it was McLaughlin under his rear wing, before Coulthard took over the Shell-backed charge from his teammate on Lap 45. He too struggled to unclog the van Gisbergen bottleneck, leading to a four-car train starting with the #97 and ending with Mostert in fifth.

Van Gisbergen’s defence held firm until just two laps from the end, when Coulthard finally got through to secure second spot. The battle for third continued right to the flag, van Gisbergen hanging on to take the final spot on the podium over McLaughlin by less than two tenths of a second.

“I had a good battle with Shane,” said Coulthard. “He had a good car in places, mine was better in others, and I had a little bit more tyre in hand. We can’t qualify, but we can race alright so I’m pretty happy.”

“It was pretty awesome,” added van Gisbergen. “I let Jamie go, he was much quicker. And then Scotty and all the boys caught me, and I definitely wasn’t letting Scotty go! Fabian and I had a great race, but he pulled a nice pass and got past me.

“I was just slowing up every corner to get a good exit to they couldn’t get me at the next one. I got my bumper beat up a few times, but all good, we got there in the end.”

1 88 australia  Jamie Whincup  Holden Commodore VF  
2 12 new_zealand  Fabian Coulthard  Ford Falcon FG/X 9.863
3 97 new_zealand  Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 13.960
4 17 new_zealand  Scott McLaughlin  Ford Falcon FG-X 14.103
5 55 australia  Chaz Mostert  Ford Falcon FG-X 15.924
6 8 australia  Nick Percat  Holden Commodore VF 20.806
7 23 australia  Michael Caruso  Nissan Altima 20.846
8 56 australia  Jason Bright  Ford Falcon FG-X 25.643
9 9 australia  David Reynolds  Holden Commodore VF 32.780
10 7 australia  Todd Kelly  Nissan Altima 36.744
11 33 australia  Garth Tander  Holden Commodore VF 40.328
12 95 australia  Will Davison  Holden Commodore VF 40.559
13 21 australia  Tim Blanchard  Holden Commodore VF 42.735
14 34 australia  James Moffat  Holden Commodore VF 44.786
15 18 australia  Lee Holdsworth  Holden Commodore VF 48.305
16 22 australia  James Courtney  Holden Commodore VF 48.568
17 14 australia  Tim Slade  Holden Commodore VF 49.101
18 2 australia  Scott Pye  Holden Commodore VF 49.765
19 5 australia  Mark Winterbottom  Ford Falcon FG-X 57.317
20 15 australia  Rick Kelly  Nissan Altima 1'01.673
21 3 australia  Alex Davison  Holden Commodore VF 1'32.564
22 99 australia  Dale Wood  Holden Commodore VF 1 lap 
23 78 switzerland  Simona de Silvestro  Nissan Altima 1 lap 
24 888 australia  Craig Lowndes  Holden Commodore VF 13 laps 
25 62 australia  Alex Rullo  Holden Commodore VF  
26 6 australia  Cameron Waters  Ford Falcon FG-X  
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About this article

Series Supercars
Event Sydney
Location Sydney Motorsport Park
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
Article type Race report