V8 » 2 August 2009
Tander wins Sandown feature, claims HRT still 'the team'
“We did it tough,” Whincup said. “We haven't quite been on our game all weekend. It has been a huge week for the team [with the switch to Holden finally announced] and, to move forward in the long term, there were always going to be a few interruptions in the short term. But, in this environment, operating at 99 per cent means you are back in the pack.
“We will spend the next three weeks regrouping and putting all our effort into the remainder of this year's championship, especially as the endurance events are just around the corner.”
At the front, Davison cleared out to leave a battle of the bourbons between Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney and Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick Kelly in second and third. On the sprint tyres, Kelly worked his way into second by passing Courtney on the main straight on lap four, but then got caught out by a safety car.
“You can't judge when the safety cars are going to come out and, unfortunately, there was one at the wrong time for our strategy and we had to put the softs on too early,” Kelly said, “It's just a bit of bad luck. We played our cards and, unfortunately, they were the wrong ones on the day. It was just bad luck, so there's not much we can do about it.”
Tander also went by Courtney while he and Kelly were on fresh sprint tyres, and the next stop for them was Davison, who had used most of his soft tyres in yesterday's victory. As soon as the safety car was gone, Kelly pounced immediately to take the lead, and Tander soon joined him after getting past Davison, who was becoming swamped by the field on the different compound tyre.
However, sheer car speed and the combination of the soft tyre ultimately prevailed for Tander, who went on to win by three tenths of a second.
Behind fourth-placed Cameron McConville - who threatened a podium finish for WOW Racing at one point - TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jason Richards, Bottle-O Racing's Tony d'Alberto achieved a career best finish of seventh, while Courtney, Jason Bargwanna and Paul Dumbrell rounded out the top ten.
"After a poor qualifying this morning, I was determined to give the guys a result for the mammoth effort to get the engine changed with only five minutes to spare before the race," McConville revealed, "It was a great strategy by the crew, and the timing was perfect for the soft tyre pit-stop. I was a little conservative on the softs early as I wanted to make sure they would last, but the car's pace was good today, and the result is a reward for the entire team's efforts."
Like Whincup, Ford Performance Racing pair Steven Richards and Mark Winterbottom struggled to find form across the weekend. Richards finished a fighting twelfth in his Castrol FPR Falcon, with Winterbottom down in 16th in his Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon. Just behind Winterbottom, Jim Beam Racing's Steven Johnson suffered from a bizarre mishap as his refuelling stop was hindered by the team finding that it had not removed the bolted down petrol cap used to reduce drag in qualifying. The pit crew had to physically tear off the cap, losing loads of valuable time in the process and restricting its man to 17th spot.
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