Jamie Whincup has edged ahead of Craig Lowndes in the all-time ATCC/Supercars race winners’ board after a victory in Sydney that has seen the championship battle tighten dramatically.
Whincup ran out an easy winner in Sunday’s leg of the Sydney Motorsport Park round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Whincup’s 106th career win came after Red Bull Holden Racing Team team-mate Shane van Gisbergen allowed Whincup past and into the lead. The switch was made because the Red Bull team felt that Whincup’s fresher tyres would see him better placed than van Gisbergen to hold out the opposition.
In the previous round the team had employed a similar strategy, but with Whincup being asked to move aside for van Gisbergen.
In the end, the battle van Gisbergen waged with his pursuers allowed Whincup to extend his lead and go on to a comfortable victory.
“Thanks to my team-mate, we look after each other here at Red Bull,” Whincup said.
“The only problem (with the record) is that Lowndesy will out-drive me, he’ll still be around for another 10 years at least!”
Eventually van Gisbergen succumbed to the pressure from behind, dropping to third place behind Fabian Coulthard. The latter’s second place capped off a near perfect weekend for the Shell V-Power Racing Falcon driver, Coulthard having won on Saturday.
Helping his cause on Saturday was the bruising encounter between team-mate Scott McLaughlin and van Gisbergen. It began when van Gisbergen seemingly attempted to elbow McLaughlin off the road on the main straight at a Safety Car restart, and climaxed seconds later at turn two, where van Gisbergen spun courtesy of a tap from McLaughlin.
A poor weekend for McLaughlin sees his former substantial championship lead over Whincup reduced to a slender 14 points. Coulthard trails by a further 95 points.