Mark Winterbottom took his second V8 Supercars win in as many days on the streets of Townsville after a tense 200-kilometre encounter.
Just like yesterday, the crucial battle for the win was between Winterbottom and Prodrive Racing Australia team-mate David Reynolds. And just like yesterday, it was Winterbottom who came out on top.
Reynolds effectively led first 50 laps of the race, jumping Chaz Mostert at the start to drop into second, and then passing pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin for the lead five laps later.
From there, he ran a simple softs-hards-softs strategy, opting for a long 37-lap run to the flag.
Winterbottom ran a similar strategy, except made his stops earlier and went for a longer fill at the end of the first stint.
That put them nose-to-tail after Reynolds emerged from his second stop, the pair running like that right until Lap 52 when Reynolds out-braked himself into Turn 1. That let Winterbottom alongside, the championship leader moving into the lead at Turn 2.
It was lead Winterbottom would hold until the finish, making it two from two in Townsville.
“That was an awesome race," he said.
"The car on hards wasn’t the best, but the guys did a tweak in the pt-stop and she was a rocket at the end."
Reynolds, meanwhile, was hunted down by James Courtney in the closing laps, the Holden Racing Team driver nabbing second place from Reynolds two laps from the finish.
Despite missing the Top 10 Shootout, it ended up being a decent day for HRT. James Courtney and Garth Tander finished second and fourth respectively, excellent final stints key to the pair turning around their weekend.
A mid-race safety car for debris did wonders for Jamie Whincup’s day, the Triple Eight driver emerging fifth after starting right in the midfield following yet another disappointing qualifying effort.
Mostert, however, went the other way. Like yesterday, a poor final stint was costly. Up until the second stops, Mostert and Reynolds had been inseparable, seemingly putting Prodrive on course for a podium lock-out. But in the end, Mostert slipped back to sixth.
Lee Holdsworth banked some solid points with seventh, ahead of Andre Heimgartner.
Recovery of the day went to Craig Lowndes, who started P23, had a mid-race collision with Tim Blanchard, and still came home ninth.
Fabian Coulthard’s title aspirations took a hit thanks to a mid-race penalty that left him at the back of the field. The Kiwi looked set for a top four result after the first stint, but his race fell apart when he was penalised for having his rear wheels spinning while on the jacks during his first stop.
That meant an extra tour down pit-lane, which ultimately resulted in 13th at the finish.
McLaughlin wound up having an average day, the young Kiwi once again left sidelined by mechanical problems. While he clearly didn’t have the pace of the PRA cars in the first phase of the race, he was on for a decent haul of points – only for cooling system failure to end his race 21 laps in.
“It’s a killer,” he said.
“[But] we had an awesome weekend, and it’s a lot better than what we’ve had, so at the end I’m walking out of here with a smile on my face.”