Jamie Whincup has fortified his 2012 V8 Supercar Championship lead, taking all three races at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
As the support act to the Abu Dhabi F1 round, the series’ second international round of the calendar was spread across three 12-lap races - unlike the conventional two-race format.
Similarly, the round used a unique qualifying format, where the starting positions for each race were determined by a single qualifying session, with each driver’s top three times determining the order for each successive race.
The format saw Will Davison earn pole, followed by Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen as the top three starters for each of the three races.
Davison’s lead from the start was short-lived in the first race (Race 24), with Whincup overtaking on the first lap and was unheaded until the chequered flag.
Second place was held by Davison, ahead of Van Gisbergen who was followed by fellow Stone Brothers Racing drivers Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth.
Tony D’Alberto was penalised 37 championship points after a risky overtaking manoeuvre on Lap 2, which ended the race of James Courtney, and forced Alex Premat and Rick Kelly well down the order.
The round’s second race (Race 25) resulted in a matching podium, with Whincup beating Davison at the start, while Van Gisbergen held third ahead of a charging Mark Winterbottom.
Premat was once again disadvantaged in Race 25, with an early spin at the hands of Steve Owen earning Owen a 25 point penalty and forcing a 25th placing for Premat.
Sunday’s Race 26 saw Whincup once again take the lead from Davison at the start, despite Davison’s desperate defence causing minor contact between the two, leading into the first corner.
Slade made the most of Davison’s error, charging up to second place before eventually finishing third after Davison reclaimed second on the second-last lap.
Van Gisbergen managed fourth, but Race 26’s greatest excitement was to be found further down the pack on the second lap.
Jonathon Webb spun Jason Bright at turn 17, sending his Commodore into the path of Karl Reindler and Dean Fiore.
Fiore’s Falcon shunted Reindler’s Commodore from behind, splitting the latter’s fuel cell and causing a momentary fireball to erupt.
The flames were quickly extinguished by marshalls, but the unscathed Reindler was visibly shaken by the incident which harked back to his start line incident at Barbagallo last year.
Webb was penalised with a drive-through penalty during the race, before a further 50 point penalty was handed down after the race and his 21st placing excluded from the Race 26 results for “failing to use the track at all times.”
Winterbottom’s sixth, fourth, and fifth results over the weekend have seen the championship points gap between he and Whincup expand to 296 points (from 218), while Craig Lowndes’ eighth, 11th, and 11th placings see him now 93 points behind Winterbottom (from 27).
Will Davison’s trio of second placings has narrowed the gap to his fourth placing to 192 points (from 312).
Whincup’s Race 26 win has cemented Holden’s victory in the 2012 Manufacturers’ Award, with 16 Holden victories to date all at the hands of Whincup/Lowndes’ TeamVodafone cars.
The 2012 V8 Supercar Championship will return to local soil in two weeks time at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria.
Top Ten V8SC Series Race 26 results - Abu Dhabi
- Jamie Whincup
- Will Davison
- Tim Slade
- Shane Van Gisbergen
- Mark Winterbottom
- James Moffatt
- Garth Tander
- Lee Holdsworth
- Rick Kelly
- Fabian Coulthard
Top Ten V8SC Points Standings
- Jamie Whincup 3360
- Mark Winterbottom 3064
- Craig Lowndes 2971
- Will Davison 2779
- Shane Van Gisbergen 2434
- Tim Slade 2319
- Garth Tander 2232
- Lee Holdsworth 1913
- David Reynolds 1875
- Fabian Coulthard 1843