Jamie Whincup has extended his lead in the 2012 V8 Supercar Championship, after taking out both Round 7 races in Townsville at the weekend.
Former leader Will Davison has now slipped to third position in the championship behind FPR teammate Mark Winterbottom, after a twelfth place result in the Saturday race being somewhat balanced by a credible third place on Sunday.
Winterbottom eclipsed Davison’s championship tally after finishing second on Saturday, and holds onto this despite a fifth placing on Sunday.
Despite the lack of outright race results, FPR were the team to beat in qualifying, with Winterbottom and David Reynolds sharing the front row for both races.
Reynolds’ Sunday qualifying pole was a career-first for the 27-year-old driver, and came as no surprise after four front-row appearances in the preceding five races.
This qualifying success failed to guarantee finishing results however, with a lack of race pace and a Sunday pit delay contributing to sixth results in both races.
Craig Lowndes was disadvantaged in the Saturday race when he was forced to queue in pit lane behind Whincup during his second stop, but the perennial crowd favourite recovered more than 15 positions to finish a credible fifth place.
Lowndes’ determination continued in the Sunday race, working his way from fifth on the grid to lead Whincup (who’d qualified ninth) for much of the race, ultimately losing the top podium spot through an unintended activation of his pit lane speed-limiter.
The VIP Petfoods Racing Falcon of Steve Owen exploited a regulatory loophole during the Saturday race, which saw the car fitted a unique combination of hard and soft compound tyres.
This combination helped Owen achieve unprecedented pace, and looked set for a podium finish until a failed shock absorber caused him to fall back to seventh position.
V8 Supercars officials amended the rules for the Sunday race to prohibit further combination of tyre compounds.
Townsville also marked the V8 Supercars return of former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who was this round’s guest driver in Greg Murphy’s Kelly Racing Commodore - with Murphy still recovering from back surgery.
Despite having co-driven at the Gold Coast round in 2010, Villeneuve struggled at the unfamiliar Townsville circuit - retiring with engine problems in the Saturday race, and finishing a lap down in 24th position on the Sunday.
In a rare occurrence for modern motorsport, the Sunday race remained uninterrupted by the Safety Car for the first 59 (of 72) laps, treating spectators to racing that was only hindered by the obligatory pit stops.
Whincup’s dual victories see him now leading Winterbottom in the championship by 100 points, with Will Davison a further 40 points behind.
Lowndes retains his fourth rung on the ladder, though now trailing Whincup by 298 points.
TeamVodafone cars have now won six races this year, and currently four in succession.
The 2012 V8 Supercars Championship will continue at Queensland Raceway in one month’s time.
2012 Championship Standings
|5||Shane Van Gisbergen||1280|