WHINCUP WINS WET WINTON OPENER Reigning Bathurst Champion Jamie Whincup claimed victory in the opening race at round four of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series at the Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria today. Whincup started the 40-lap ...
WHINCUP WINS WET WINTON OPENER
Reigning Bathurst Champion Jamie Whincup claimed victory in the opening race at round four of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series at the Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria today.
Whincup started the 40-lap journey aboard his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon from 20th position before benefiting from a good pit strategy that saw him stop on lap seven to complete his compulsory pit stop.
With the race being slowed by several safety car periods due to cars sliding off the circuit in the slippery conditions Whincup clawed his way up the order and took over the lead with 13 laps remaining.
As the track surface dried over the closing stages the drivers who had fitted during slick tyres during their pit stops, including James Courtney, were closing rapidly on the leader.
However Whincup had built enough of a gap to hold on for the victory ahead of a fast-finishing Steve Richards.
Whincup's team-mate Craig Lowndes was on track to make it a pair of Caltex-backed TeamVodafone drivers inside the top five before spinning his Falcon with a handful of laps remaining which dropped him to 18th at the finish.
Courtney's charge to front was the focal point during the final half of the race as he charged from 26th position following his pit stop on lap 20 when he fitted slick tyres to his Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon.
The ex-Formula One test driver benefited from the drying surface and crossed the line third, unfortunately though he was later penalised for passing under caution conditions on the final turn. As a consequence Courtney will start tomorrow morning's race from 17th position.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall experienced a difficult day behind the wheel. The former series champion was forced to start today's race from the rear of the grid due to failing to stop at the weigh scales during qualifying.
Ingall was the big mover during the opening laps of the race, passing 17 cars in the opening eight laps. His good work came undone on the next lap after contact with Paul Dumbrell broke a steering arm, damaged a rim and punctured a tyre on the left front corner of Ingall's Caltex Racing Falcon, forcing him off the circuit and eventually out of the race.
Tomorrow's action consists of two 40-lap journeys around the 3.0km circuit.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "The rain gave us a bit of an opportunity today," said Ingall.
"I had a blinder of a start and things looked pretty good.
"But early in the race I got caught up in an incident with Dumbrell and got knocked off the track. It damaged the steering arm and it was all over for us.
"Winton doesn't seem to be a happy hunting ground for us."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It was very disappointing to spin off with off three laps to go especially as I moved to the inside to try and avoid him James Courtney," said Lowndes.
"I was enjoying a good battle with Garth Tander as the car was getting better the more the track dried out.
"We will have our work cut out for us now we are starting from 18th tomorrow."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "We struggled through qualifying, but as with yesterday the car was really good on wets," said Whincup.
"The Team made the right call on pit strategy and from there I made the best with what I had.
"This track is traditionally our bogey track so it is really good to come away with a win."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "I was hoping for the rain today and we got it," said Courtney.
"I thought it might give us a good chance to make up some ground.
"We were able to do that. We held out on our pit stop to put on slicks and it paid off in the last five laps where I was able to get up to third at the line.
"But it wasn't to be; I couldn't see the yellow at turn 11 and made what I thought was a good pass on Tander in the last corner.
"It's pretty disappointing to drive that hard and not get the result."
2007 V8 Championship Series - Round 4 of 14 Winton Motor Raceway, Victoria