Whincup creates history at Townsville 400
11 July 2009
Jamie Whincup created his own piece of history on Saturday when he won the opening V8 Supercar race at the inaugural Dunlop Townsville 400 in North Queensland.
The TeamVodafone driver claimed his seventh race win from eleven starts this season to extend his lead in the Championship from the Toll Holden Racing Team's Will Davison who grabbed second place ahead of his team-mate Garth Tander.
The inaugural race at the new Townsville venue was highlighted by a huge crowd of 60,117 fans, which provided a two-day total of 108,073 and an even bigger attendance is expected tomorrow.
“To win the inaugural race in Townsville is pretty special, but today was about all the people who have made this event such a spectacular success,” said Whincup. “That was certainly one of the toughest races of the year, both on the car and myself, but fortunately I had a rocketship underneath me.
“I am just so proud to be a part of this entire team which is working so hard to achieve what we are.”
The early drama in the race involved a turn-two incident, which resulted in a few dented panels.
Sprint Gas Racing's Greg Murphy was forced into the pits with smoke in the cabin on lap one and on lap four Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney was forced into the pits with engine issues in his Jim Beam Falcon after taking an early lead.
Courtney's trip to pit lane handed the race lead to first-time V8 Supercar pole winner Lee Holdsworth in his Garry Rodgers Motorsport Valvoline Holden.
“On the first lap felt it dropped to seven cylinders, but I was still pulling away. I then lost another cylinder and it was all over from there,” said Courtney. “I don't know what I have done, I was doing it easy, Things happen and that's the business we are in.”
The racing gods turned on Holdsworth on lap 30 when his engine lost oil pressure on lap 30.
“It's just what comes with the sport, isn't it,” said Holdsworth. “The pole position was awesome this morning but I was a pretty good bet at the race win I think so at least we know we've got speed and we'll have another crack at tomorrow.”
On target for his second ever V8 Supercar win, Holdsworth was left stranded on the track, which bought out the safety car which saw the majority of the field pit for the second time.
At the race re-start on lap 35 Irwin Racing's Alex Davison led from Murphy and Supercheap Auto Racing's Tim Slade.
Sitting in fourth and the first driver to have made two stops was Jamie Whincup, but in between him and Slade was Dodo Racing's Jack Perkins who was a lap down.
Whincup tapped Perkins and turned him around, but it was determined that he would not be penalised for an indiscretion because the pair were not racing for position.
“I must admit it was a bit of a lucky one,” said Whincup in post-race media conference in reference to his incident with Perkins. “I clipped Michael Caruso on the way through and bent the steering and got hit by David Reynolds under safety car and I had a tap with Jack Perkins.
“We had a bit of a touch and had we have been racing for position I would have had to redress that. But lucky enough it wasn't for position, but it's not good. I owe Jack a couple of beers I think.”
Davison chirped in: “He was pretty luck to get away with it I thought.”
On lap 63 Alex Davison had a steering rack issue and was stranded on track at the final turn.
A late safety car period lasted for four laps, but on the re-start there were three lapped cars between Whincup and the second placed Holden of Will Davison, who was followed by Caruso, Tander and Lowndes.
Tander and Lowndes managed to get by Caruso who finished fifth ahead of Supercheap Auto Racing's Russell Ingall, Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly, Orrcon Racing's Mark Winterbottom, WOW Racing's Cameron McConville and Kelly's teammate and brother Todd Kelly.
V8 Supercar Events General Manager, Shane Howard, said that the opening day of racing in Townsville was something special for a lot of people.
“There were a few people with a real sense of pride and maybe even a tear in the eye as the cars rolled out of pit lane for the first time today,” said Howard. “Some many people have worked so hard for a long time on this event and it is always like being an expectant father in the last few days leading up to a new event.”
There will be a 20-minute qualifying session tomorrow morning to determine the starting sports on the grid for the afternoon's 72-lap race.