Whincup back on top at ITM 500
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Jamie Whincup wins as V8 Supercar championship hots up with two rounds to go
It was a special afternoon for Jamie Whincup at the ITM 500 Auckland after taking home the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy this afternoon.
Whincup, who won the opening race on Saturday, topped off the weekend taking a dominant win over teammate Craig Lowndes. The 1–2 finish was Red Bull Racing’s first 1–2 finish since Tasmania earlier this year in March.
Following Saturday’s win, Whincup claimed the memorial trophy — regarded as one of the biggest awards of the year. 2005 saw Whincup partnered with Richards in the Tasman Motorsport team, the pair claiming a third place finish at Sandown followed by a second at the Bathurst 1000.
“For me it's all about the J.R trophy. We were teammates, good mates,” said Whincup following today’s triumph.
Whincup looked back to his old ways at Pukekohe all weekend. Photo / Velocity NZ
“The best day I've had in New Zealand was yesterday, but I think I topped it today.
“All the [Red Bull] crew went home just for a shower at 6.30 this morning, then came straight back out on the track. [For them] to be pumping wheels on and off with no sleep for two-days straight is impressive.
“It's going to be a good year knowing that the J.R trophy is in the cabinet.“
After missing out on pole position for the final race by just .0014, Whincup leapt ahead of Scott McLaughlin to take the lead by the first turn. Series leader Mark Winterbottom struck trouble early on, congestion at the hairpin seeing James Courtney make contact with Jason Bright, the BOC Commodore then appearing to clip the rear of Winterbottom’s Falcon.
Whincup dominated the course of the race, extending his lead to over eight seconds before making his final pitstop.
It was a trying final race for the Kiwis, including Volvo's Scott McLaughlin. Photo / Velocity NZ
After taking on more fuel in the first round of pit stops, Craig Lowndes returned to the race in second passing both Pye, Reynolds and McLaughlin on corrected order. With margin between himself and third placed Scott Pye Lowndes bounced back from his horror day race two, which saw his Commodore suffer extensive damage, finishing second in the finale.
“Second place was all about the team. As Jamie said, they literally had an hour and a half turnaround from when they finished [repairing] my car and when they went back and had showers. It was a huge team effort,” said Lowndes.
“For the boys to back that up and do the pit stops and strategies was a credit for them, and shows the depth within the team, and the passion.”
NZ Toyota Racing Series graduate Scott Pye took his first career podium, ending the race third in his MAN Ford Falcon. Photo / Velocity NZ
Following the launch Penske Commercial Vehicles in Auckland, American motor racing supremo Roger Penske was in attendance for the weekend’s racing to support his team, DJR Penske.
Having started third, Scott Pye fell behind Prodrive Racing driver David Reynolds before jumping him in the latter pit stops. Pye maintained his third place position holding out Reynolds to take his first podium finish.
“It's a relief. Bathurst was fantastic for us, the car was 'there' — really it has been for the last few rounds, but we've just struggled to convert,” said Pye.
“I felt that we ticked all the boxes in that race. I'm really proud of all the guys. From when I got in at Tasmania the car was not in a great place, and even as a bunch of guys as a unit we're working much better together. I feel like my engineers and mechanics are communicating really well, the stops in that race were good, and I think the guys need a lot of credit for that.
“When you reflect on where we've come from this year it's been a big turnaround.
Simon Evans fought back from a rough start to win race two of the NZ Touring Car Championship weekend. Photo / Velocity NZ
Meanwhile the supporting NZ Touring Car series saw two different winners today with Simon Evans and Craig Baird taking the respective wins.
Evans’ victory didn’t come easy with a hard fought battle with Mitch Cunningham seeing the two dice for position throughout the duration of the race, Evans prevailing with a pass at the hairpin.
In the final race of the weekend Craig Baird dominated an incident filled affair, starting from second the Team Kiwi Racing driver got the jump on Nick Ross. Baird remained unchallenged, clearing out ahead of Australian Bryce Fullwood.
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