Mark Winterbottom team-mate Chaz Mostert was second in all races.
Mark Winterbottom has cautioned against a sudden challenge to Jamie Whincup in the V8 Supercars Championship despite scoring the first clean sweep of the MSS Security Challenge at Albert Park in 17 years.
Winterbottom scored victories in all four races at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix – the first time since Russell Ingall did so in a Perkins Commodore in 1997 and 1998 – with his Pepsi Max team-mate Chaz Mostert second in all races. He now has seven race wins at Albert Park.
Shane van Gisbergen was third in three of the 12 lappers with James Courtney the other podium placegetter in race one on Thursday. Despite the results Whincup finished 6-5-6-5, staying out of trouble in an uneventful weekend for the six-time Champion.
We have got to be better on our bad days and try to get it right across 12 months.
With the Tyrepower Tasmania Supersprint the next Championship event at Symmons Plains in Launceston in nine days’ time, Whincup has won a record 10 races there and team-mate Craig Lowndes seven. They clean swept last year’s event.
“At Eastern Creek he wasn’t a factor then he turns up in Adelaide and bowls pole position by half a second,” Winterbottom said. “He knows what he is doing. He will go to Tassie and be screaming the pole position again I am sure. You don’t read too much into it.”
Still, Winterbottom has form on the board with the clean sweep.
“It’s as good as it gets. We are going to have our good days and our bad days. We raced in Adelaide two weeks ago and Chaz had a good first race but other than that we struggled. When we are having a bad day we need to be more competitive,” he said.
“It gives you confidence in race craft and your own belief. To come away undamaged is also a massive bonus. We should prepare really well for Tassie but if we go there and get beat we haven’t done a good enough job.
“It’s a tough little circuit. Qualifying covered by two tenths could be 15 grid spots. If we qualify well we should have a good run at Tassie. If we can take the braking in and maintain the grip we had here we should be fine. But stopping it and turning it are two different things.
“We have got to be better on our bad days and try to get it right across 12 months. These sorts of tracks like Bathurst we should be okay but we have got to strong at Winton, Gold Coast, Homebush and those sort of tracks.”
With battles through the pack the best racing action of the weekend it was the start that drew the most attention – and the most damage.
Chaos ensued with mass confusion at the rolling start. As the green flag dropped Team Super Black’s Andre Heimgartner and David Reynolds jumped and the rest of the backmarkers followed, even though the leaders had not.
The ultimate effect was the field collapsed into itself with half having started and half not. The accident took three cars – Nick Percat, Will Davison and Marcos Ambrose – out of the race. Two more – Craig Lowndes and Jason Bright – followed at the first corner.
With virtually no visibility of the start Ambrose responded in his DJR Team Penske Wurth Falcon and slipped up the inside, looking in good shape to gain multiple places. That was until he came across a slower Davison in the Erebus Mercedes, slamming into the back of the AMG E63.
“Probably the shortest race I have ever had to be honest. The restart rules are fairly clear but there seems to be a lot of confusion when you put it into practice,” Ambrose said.
“When the leader does take off, everyone is entitled to go and start racing before the start finish line. The back half of the field took off and we were down the back there, and it was like the leaders had almost stopped.
“There was a chain reaction accident and we were out. The Grand Prix weekend has been a tough weekend and now I am looking forward to Tasmania.”
Tasmania: next championship event
The turnaround to next Championship event Tasmania is quite short, particularly for the Queensland-based teams of Red Bull and DJR Team Penske, with around four days in the workshop, taking in the travel time required to get back from Melbourne, and down to the Apple Isle for a March 27 kick-off.
DJR Team Penske is working with a rolling chassis plan however, with the chassis race at the Clipsal 500 prepared to race in Tasmania.
V8 Supercars Series