TeamVodafone’s Jamie Whincup lead a team of the next generation as the Clipsal 500 exploded into one of the best finishes in the 10-year history of the V8 Supercar Championship Series event raced in Adelaide today.
The young gun led home Lee Holdsworth who held it together despite losing both his cool suit, designed to cool the core of his body in extreme temperatures, and the air intake into his helmet that pumps fresh air into his face. Holdsworth was on the brink of collapse at race end.
And Team BOC’s Cameron McConville, the grossly under-rated one in the pack, scored his team an incredible result for the Albury team up against the much larger factory-backed outlets.
There were some big results for New Zealand drivers led by teenager Shane Van Gisbergen who finished a superb fifth in race two for Stone Brothers Racing and sixth overall. Tasman Racing’s Greg Murphy was seventh in race two and seventh overall, his team-mate Jason Richards eighth today and ninth overall, Steven Richards (Ford Performance) 15th in race two and eighth overall, Fabian Coulthard (Glenfords Ford) 18th today and 14th overall with Team Kiwi Racing’s rookie Kayne Scott 14th today and 17th overall.
After a lean time last year, it was a strong start for the New Zealand contingent.
All three top placegetters today were either groomed by Garry Rogers Motorsport, or in the case of Holdsworth still races for the best talent spotter in the sport. Current Champion Garth Tander also cut his teeth in the Garry Rogers stable.
Whincup scored the double to become only the third driver alongside greats Mark Skaife and Marcos Ambrose to win dual Clipsal 500s — arguably the most grueling event of the V8 Supercar Championship Series outside of the famous Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
He shone to lead from start to finish and left carnage in his wake. The race exploded on lap 56 of 78 when James Courtney and Craig Lowndes exited in high drama.
“It was an amazing weekend — one of those ones that as a kid you dream of. There was never a dull moment. I was always pushing hard and giving the 88 car a real push,” Whincup said.
“Winning the Barry Sheene (best and fairest medal) last year was a big eye opener but now to win back-to-back Clipsal 500s is a great feeling. To join the greats of the category makes me really proud.”
Holdsworth stuck in for second in an incredible display of courage. He admitted that at some stages he was almost too fatigued to keep pushing.
“My cool suit ran out after about lap 20 so it was just circulating hot water around my body and the air intake on my helmet failed. It was incredibly hard,” Holdsworth said.
“But to be here is unbelievable. I felt at the start of the year that I could be a top ten contender and it’s such a great feeling going into the rest of the year knowing we can perform.”
Similarly McConville, who switched from the PWR outfit, scored a great third for Team BOC in their first weekend with a Holden Commodore. Not only that, he started from 28th on the grid.
“It’s unbelievable to think that we started 28 and last on the grid,” McConville said.
“All credit to Team BOC who are such great strategists. My aim was to finish top 15 from there. You always keep hoping that you are going to get back up here and I worked really hard over the off season.
“Still it’s hard to believe we are here.”
The accident that started the final chain of events came when Lowndes attempted a tough move around the outside of Courtney but squeezed him too hard, ending with both slamming into a wall simultaneously.
Amazingly it left Whincup still in the lead but Team BOC’s McConville and Valvoline’s Holdsworth in second and third racing for the trophy. Both had incredible days and were in the mix the whole way when the break came.
The Lowndes/Courtney bingle also trapped Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom who got stuck in the melee. Winterbottom’s day was also over having finished second yesterday.
But it was a grim day for current Champion Tander.
Tander tore through the field from the start skipping an amazing 10 places in the first three laps. By lap eight he was ninth and still moving forward. But the bad luck of the day before returned on lap 31 when Tander and Courtney came together.
“James Courtney pushed me out of the way pretty aggressively which appeared to cause some damage,” Tander said. “We’ll see how we go and look at turning it around at Eastern Creek.”
Tander returned under safety car which helped him catch the tail of the field but he was eight laps down and only scrambling to get any points he could.
Jim Beam Racing’s Will Davison was also an early retirement with clutch damage as was Supercheap Auto Racing’s Russell Ingall in his new Holden with some form of front end damage. Ingall’s team-mate Paul Morris also struggled early with a mechanical problem.
Source: V8 Supercar Press Release