TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup scored a fourth straight victory for the second year running with the Middle East double header, completed at the Gulf Air Desert 400 in Bahrain today.
Whincup eclipsed the great Allan Moffatt's 36 touring car championship wins along the way with his 37th victory. He won all four races to start last year at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and ITM400 in Hamilton after that.
Today he overcame some mistakes and a massive challenge from Orrcon Steel FPR Racing's Mark Winterbottom in what was arguably the best race of the four at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and the Bahrain International Circuit.
It was another show of strength with a few small chinks exposed in the armour.
Whincup made a rare error and missed the start, becoming swamped by the field, ending up in fifth. He made up one place at turn one on lap two with a clean pass ahead of Fujitsu Racing's Lee Holdsworth to move into fourth with more hard work ahead.
Within two laps he pulled another seemingly effortless pass on mate Will Davison and moved into second. His early lap times showed he was the fastest in the race by some margin.
“That certainly wasn't my perfect performance,” Whincup said. “The start was ordinary; I ran wide and had a wheel lockup which I got away with. Then I stalled coming out of the pit bay which I'm not happy about and will have to go away to have a think about.
“It's just a massive, massive effort from our team and one we are immensely proud of. My race wasn't the best today. You don't normally get away with that, normally you get wheel interlock and you break things.”
By lap eight Whincup was all over leader Winterbottom. That same lap he got around Winterbottom at turn eight after lunging at turn one. He set Winterbottom up at turn six and turn seven before making the move with position at the next corner.
But Winterbottom did not lie down. He lost the advantage by a few seconds but within 10 laps was back on the rear bumper of Whincup who looked to be struggling with his car. They went nose to tail lap after lap, even almost coming together at their final pit stop.