Whincup nominated Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander as the man to beat tomorrow (Saturday) in the second race. Tander finished fourth today after taking just 27 points from the first race last weekend.
“A season's personal best," Tander said. "It's not the result we'd hoped for, or what HRT as a team and our supporters wanted, but putting all things in perspective after Abu Dhabi fourth's better than nothing. It's important that we don't get carried away and just keep chipping away.”
Lowndes came from eighth to second after a sloppy top ten shootout, leaving himself the hard work of having to work through the field one by one.
“I've got to get the shootout right,” said Lowndes. “We made a little error and I didn't drive the car that well. It's one of those things. You've got to make the best of a bad situation. It's a matter of managing the tyres, harass the guys in front and find a way through.”
Once again Whincup made a clean start and cleared away early. Winterbottom followed after nabbing Van Gisbergen from his first appearance on the front row of the grid. The opening laps were willing down the field with several altercations.
For Van Gisbergen the day was still a great success: “It's great to get my first front row start, it's great for SP Tools and SBR,” Van Gisbergen said. “The track changed so much between the qualifying and shootout sessions, I think it was Will Davison that set a low five in the times and we all thought he would be up the front but the track was a lot better for our car.
“We made a couple of changes between the sessions and that helped us. It's been a great start to the season but it's the team that has stepped up, I'm just the last piece of the puzzle. They worked so hard over the off season and made some great developments to the car.”
As he did in the race Whincup was ice cool in the top ten shootout as the last car out and a mammoth job ahead to beat the cracking time of Van Gisbergen.
“When I saw Mark record a 2.05.8 I thought that was right up there,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on when the other drivers leave you to make you go three or four tenths of a second quicker than qualifying,” Whincup described.
“I could see on my dash that I was making good time. I didn't know what Shane's lap was so I just kept going hard until the end. You don't get used to this feeling, it's very special.”