A double shot has been fired at their pit lane rivals as TeamVodafone scored a 1-2 in the Sucrogen Townsville 400 today.
Jamie Whincup scored back-to-back victories on the weekend with his team-mate Craig Lowndes second. From a late safety car the two Commodores got the jump on the field and started their own grandstand battle to the finish.
A big three-day crowd of 152,161 watched the three days of action, 56,384 of them on Saturday and 51,772 today, on top of 44,005 on Friday, with an ill Will Davison finishing third in his Trading Post FPR Falcon.
Holden’s Garth Tander charged through from 13th on the grid to an eventual fourth place after passing Orrcon Steel’s Mark Winterbottom in the dying laps.
Tander’s HRT teammate James Courtney reached the race lead early on his soft tyres, but faded to 15th with bent steering late in the race. Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno teammates Jonathon Webb and Michael Patrizi, and Jason Bright rounded out the top ten.
The result was ominous for TeamVodafone who until the previous event in Darwin had taken a back seat to the FPR team. They now threaten to continue at the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 next where Lowndes won all three races last year.
Whincup also became the first driver to win back to back races of the Sucrogen Townsville 400. TeamVodafone also had an avid supporter in new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman who spent much of the race in the garage.
“I’m pretty spent actually, it’s been a long week,” Whincup said.
“We get a huge reception when we roll in on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, have a couple of intense days and then we get on track at this crazy circuit.
“I’ve never raced with Craig so hard. We had great cars in Darwin and I was a little soft then so I though this time round I will give it a good crack. We had a cracking battle with good cars; tyres running down … it was all good stuff.
“I knew there was going to be a fight. It was a good hard battle, clean battle. We are starting to get some results, some race wins, and we need to keep the tempo.”
Said Lowndes: “It was a great battle as Jamie said. The strategy helped me get back into the game. We were running well early and then had a problem but we got back in the game.”
Davison lamented being out pointed by the Holden crew but vowed to live to fight another day after a fight back from the day before.
“It was a good intense battle from start to finish. It was high quality stuff with no-one making any mistakes. They are all tricky situations to manage,” Davison said.
“Third was all we could do. We maximized our race, maximized our strategy and so we have got some work to do. But compared to where we were yesterday it was still a massive improvement.”
Earlier David Reynolds took a career first V8 Supercars Armor All Pole Position. The Bottle-O Racing Falcon driver’s 1:12.58s lap proved 0.07s quicker than Winterbottom’s best effort.
During the race Lowndes had a bizarre moment when he accidentally hit the pit limiter button which slows the cars to 40km/h, not the sort of mistake you need to make mid-race. It allowed Whincup to grab another spot and Davison a mini-gap.
Lap 43 proved decisive when Reynolds, Whincup and Davison all pitted together. When they emerged from the stop Whincup had jumped all of them including his team-mate to take the race lead.
Reynolds was the biggest loser, dropping from first to fifth. The harder news fro the FPR Falcons was that both TeamVodafone Commodores went out on brand new tyres.
Top Ten V8 Supercar Championship Series Race 15 Results - Sucrogen Townsville 400
1: Jamie Whincup
2: Craig Lowndes
3: Will Davison
4: Garth Tander
5: Mark Winterbottom
6: David Reynolds
7: Shane Van Gisbergen
8: Jonathon Webb
9: Michael Patrizi
10: Jason Bright
Top Ten V8 Supercar Championship Points Standings
1: Jamie Whincup, 1794 pts.
2: Mark Winterbottom, 1694 pts.
3: Will Davison, 1654 pts.
4: Craig Lowndes, 1496 pts.
5: Shane Van Gisbergen, 1280 pts.
6: Garth Tander, 1239 pts.
7: Lee Holdsworth, 1190 pts.
8: Tim Slade, 1170 pts.
9: Fabian Coulthard, 1030 pts.
10: David Reynolds, 951 pts.