1 January 1901
FPR takes 1-2 in Darwin.
“We got quite lucky at the restart,” he admitted, “After Sandown it's a great fight back. A lot of people asked a lot of questions of HRT after Sandown and I think we've now answered that.”
Winterbottom had lost his early advantage when the FPR crew struggled to turn him around quickly at his mandatory pit-stop, allowing both Richards and Tander through, and had to settle for third, ahead of the two Team Vodafone Falcons of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. Russell Ingall took sixth, ahead of Jason Richards, Mark Skaife, Rick Kelly and Will Davison.
Tander and Winterbottom were equal on points going into the last of the weekend's three races, with Richards just four points off the pace, but it was the latter who made the most of the start, rocketing past Tander on the opening lap and never being headed thereafter - despite another safety car appearance - as he claimed his first round win since Perth two years ago. Winterbottom also passed Tander and was seldom troubled as he backed Richards up in a 1-2 result.
Tander, meanwhile, was equally comfortable in third, taking a similar result from the round to keep himself in title contention behind Winterbottom.
"Third's a great result for the team," he insisted, "We changed the car considerably after yesterday's race and were closer after race two, which gave us direction for the final. The problem was the way my car used its tyres yesterday - we didn't have the rubber to do a good enough job. Our pace was pretty good towards the end and Mark [Winterbottom] was making a lot of mistakes. I thought we could pressure him into making a mistake, but it wasn't to be.”
Ingall came through to claim fourth after both Team Vodafone Fords ran into problems - Whincup having been squeezed out at the start and Lowndes losing his engine on the penultimate lap - while Davison completed the top five for Jim Beam Racing.
“It was very disappointing,” Lowndes said, “We made a number of changes to the car between today's two races and I really felt that we had a handle on everything. Then I felt a slight vibration on the second last lap, which escalated to a very big vibration - and then 'bang'.”
Winterbottom now leads the championship by 58 points from Tander, with Whincup a further 68 points back in third.
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