Clipsal 500: Whincup snatches R1 win
23 February 2008
Jamie Whincup began the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship series with the perfect result in the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on Saturday by fighting his way back to claim the leg 1 victory.
Whincup, who narrowly missed out on the title in 2007, put in an impressive drive and while a lengthy pit-stop dropped him back, when he had to have a new battery fitted to his #88 Ford Falcon, in the end it didn't stop him from taking P1.
Indeed the Team Vodafone man charged back through the pack and from 20th after his pit-stops he was up to third by lap 61.
A safety car on nine laps later then closed the gap between Whincup and his team-mate, the second placed Craig Lowndes and Jamie passed him on lap 71. He then reeled in race leader, Mark Winterbottom and muscled by the FPR man with just two laps to go.
"250km is a very long race distance to start the year off with," Whincup reflected. "But the car felt great all race and I am also feeling good.
"We did have a minor electrical issue which delayed our pitstop by five to six seconds so the team had to completely change our strategy after that. Great teamwork paid off today though and I have to say this victory is up there as one of my best. To come through the pack and win like that was very satisfying."
Winterbottom meanwhile had to settle for the runners-up spot and he wasn't at all happy with the way Whincup barged passed.
"What can I say? I feel I was pushed out of the way and he probably felt that he had the room," Mark told the official V8 website. "It sets the standards for the rest of the year so I'm not going to sit here and complain about it."
Lowndes completed the podium, having lost out in the final section of the race, in part due to a deflating right rear tyre.
"At this track it is always important to get a good start and I was quite surprised how cautious the race pace was early on," Craig stated. "Our mid race strategy was spot on allowing me to remain competitive with Frosty and Tander.
"We did suffer a couple of car issues, with the front sway bar the biggest concern as it locked on in one position. It is a credit to the team however that our off season preparation has been so thorough, there is no better result than two cars on the podium."
The hard-charging Lee Holdsworth from the Valvoline Cummins race team was next up in fourth and easily the best of the Holdens, while Ford Performance Racing's Steven Richards rounded out the top five, followed by Jim Beam Racing duo Steve Johnson and Will Davison.
"It was a tough race but there were certainly some missed opportunities which cost me both time and positions," said Davison. "Unfortunately there was a mishap during my first pit stop which cost quite a bit of time and I recovered from that to get back to sixth place, but then got caught behind slower traffic after the safety car which cost me three positions. I was lucky to survive the mess and recover the lost positions, cars were just going everywhere!
"Overall I think I had the speed to have a real shot at third or fourth place today but everything is good in hindsight. We just have to focus on tomorrow's race and do the best we possibly can to get on the podium which I really believe we have a great shot at achieving."
Of the rest Rick Kelly and Mark Skaife were eighth and ninth, the former having lost time following a late collision with his HSV Dealer team-mate, Paul Dumbrell.
"Paul and I spoke after the race about what happened on Lap 67. I am not angry at him or vice-versa, it's just one of things that happens out there," said Rick. "To be honest, with the fine-tuning we've been doing with the car to finish 8th is not too bad. It gives us a great opportunity to push up the order tomorrow."
James Courtney had to settle for tenth after an incident with Jason Richards ruined his chances of his first V8 Supercar race victory.
Courtney had made a great start and opened up a commanding lead until lap 41, when Richards, going a lap down, tangled with Courtney in the chicane. The JELD-WEN Motorsport driver was subsequently forced to make an extra stop for new front tyres and that put him out of contention.
"That was just shattering," said James. "To be out in front like that, doing it pretty easily and then have it taken out of your hands like that; I just can't believe it. At this level of competition you expect better driving than that.
"I'm just so disappointed for me and more so for the JELD-WEN guys that have worked so hard to get us in this position. They gave me a great car this weekend that was more than capable of winning."
Reigning champion, Garth Tander also had a tough event and he was eventually classified in 23rd place after suffering a front suspension failure.
"We're all obviously disappointed with today's outcome as my Toll HRT Commodore was very good and consistent," said Garth. "We seemed to have the right strategy and have the car in the right place at the right time, but then we had a front suspension failure. We fixed the car and tested for tomorrow from there in."
The second and final 250 kilometre leg to the 10th birthday Clipsal 500 now takes place on Sunday at 2.30 pm [local time].