Jamie Whincup became the most successful driver in Supercars history while making a big statement in the chase for his seventh Championship title at the Red Rooster Sydney Supersprint.
Whincup dominated a race of strategy ahead of a ferocious battle pack looking to fill the minor placings to register 106 race wins, now one ahead of his long-time team-mate Craig Lowndes.“The only problem is Lowndsey will out-drive me, he will be around for another ten years at least,” Whincup said. “I am not getting too excited by the numbers but it was certainly good to get a win.”
His win and Scott McLaughlin’s fourth place reduced the Championship margin to just 12 points in a four-way battle heading into the critical PIRTEK Enduro Cup season of the Wilson Security Sandown 500, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
It became a game of cat and mouse as Whincup held on desperately in the last 10 laps with the Shell V-Power racers making up big ground lap by lap. Only Van Gisbergen came between them as they struggled to get past as Whincup sat out in front.
The three Kiwis went head to head lap after lap but Coulthard couldn’t get around Van Gisbergen soon enough. In the meantime, Whincup had bolted. Eventually Coulthard got around Van Gisbergen, who held on to third, for second.
“It felt good, car was good,” Whincup said.
Jamie Whincup of Red Bull Holden Racing Team during the Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint, at the Sydney Motorsport Park, Sydney, New South Wales, August 20, 2017.
“I knew it was going to be a good battle at the end but thanks to my team-mate, we look after each other at Red Bull. I thought if Fabs and Chaz got through earlier it would have been on so I put my head down and pushed hard. It’s a good feeling heading into the big season of endurance.”
Sengled Racing’s Rick Kelly sparked a safety car when a right rear tyre exploded on the front straight, literally ripping the rear end from his Nissan Altima at 250km/h which dictated the race.
The safety car triggered a reshuffle and gave Whincup the lead based on his earlier pit stop. Whincup did not pit on the safety car and pressed on as the majority of the field stopped.
Whincup was second behind Van Gisbergen after the Kiwis second stop. Coulthard and Chaz Mostert had better tyres to plough through the field and into the mix in the closing laps.
“I let Jamie go, he was much quicker but I definitely wasn’t letting Scotty go,” Van Gisbergen said.
“I was slowing up every corner to get a good exit so they couldn’t get me at the next one. I got my bumper beat up a few times but we got there in the end.”
Earlier, McLaughlin immediately made amends for his error in yesterday’s first race with another dominant qualifying performance. He equalled Whincup’s all-time record of 13 ARMOR ALL Pole Positions with his thirteenth award and seventh in a row.
McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen were handed further penalties for their roles in the incidents from yesterday, both ultimately receiving pit lane penalties with 33 seconds added to their race times.
Van Gisbergen was penalised for over-lapping from the restart while McLaughlin, who was initially handed a 15 second penalty for spinning Van Gisbergen, was given an extra 18 second penalty.