ADELAIDE, Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online International Motorsport Correspondent Jack Cobourn — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
In one of the most thrilling V8 Supercars Championship races at the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit since the now-legendary Dick Johnson and Larry Perkins battle in support of the 1994 Australian Grand Prix, two-time defending Clipsal 500 Adelaide winner James Courtney and six-time series champion Jamie Whincup put on an epic display Saturday over the course of 125 kilometers.
Dueling just inches apart for the final 15 laps of the second race of the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, Courtney held his fellow Holden pilot at bay to notch his first V8SC win of the 2016 season, third on the streets of Adelaide and the 15th of his career.
The win for Courtney came despite damage to his front nose, caused when the leader impacted a tire pack at the Senna Chicane in turn one with six laps to go, and a near shot to the back end from Whincup through the final corner coming to the finish line.
“It was an amazing battle, and that shows why he’s such a champion,” Courtney said of Whincup in victory lane. “To have been wheel-to-wheel with him all day, it’s just been fantastic. It definitely was a fight at the end there. The old mate probably had a bit better car than we did (at the end) — and we had to work hard to keep him behind us — but it all worked out there.”
“That last lap was fantastic; you can’t ask for more of a fight than that one. Hopefully we can have the same result again (on Sunday).”
Chaz Mostert started from the ARMOR ALL Pole Position for Rod Nash Racing, holding the lead on the opening lap, but Courtney grabbed second from Whincup in the opening corner — a move that would be pivotal later on in the day.
Courtney was nipping at Mostert’s heels working the second lap and was right on his bumper into the twisty bits, but the first safety car period of the race would stall the battle at lap two when Chris Pither destroyed his right-hand side of his Falcon in a massive hit to the wall at the turn seven complex.
The restart on the eighth circuit saw Mostert hold his lead, but Courtney wasn’t too far back. Two laps later, both Courtney and Whincup pitted for two tires apiece, before Mostert came down the following lap and handed the point to Scott McLaughlin’s Volvo as a full round of compulsory pit stops began.
During the cycle, Michael Caruso, Will Davison and Fabian Coulthard all took turns out in front, but a collision between Garth Tander — who lost four laps when his car stalled in pit lane on lap 13 — and Tim Blanchard that left debris strewn all through the turns one and two complex brought out a second caution with 17 laps complete.
Mostert, Courtney and Whincup grabbed the top three in the shuffle during the safety car neutralization, and by the time the restart flags were displayed on the 20th round, it was the 23-year-old leading the two Holden veterans in Courtney and Whincup as the field began to string out again.
Courtney finally made the move for the lead on lap 21, moving out from behind Mostert going into turn nine and snagging the lead down the inside as the young gun was forced wide up and over the curb. Mostert was then passed by Whincup to make it a Holden 1-2 in the second half of the event.
Whincup set the fastest lap of the race (1:22.2371) on lap 22, and by the 15 to go mark, the champion was on Courtney’s tail as the battle for the lead intensified.
Coming out of the last bend on lap 28, Courtney made a slight miscue, allowing Whincup to ease up onto his bumper. The order remained, however, and four laps later Courtney began to grow a slight cushion as the final stages began.
At five to go, the contact to the front nose for Courtney meant that Whincup upped the pressure — nearly brushing the wall on the exit of turn eight as he attempted to go two-for-two to kick off the season. The gap continued to close, and at the white flag a mere car length separated the Holden pair as both looked for glory.
Courtney slid out of turn eight and Whincup was afforded the look to the inside at turn nine, but Courtney held him off. Into the last corner, Whincup ducked in behind Courtney as they charged to the finish, kicking out the back end and giving up the ghost as the two crossed the line a car length apart.
Magnanimous in defeat, Whincup said he enjoyed the battle throughout.
“(James) deserved that (win) today — that was madness,” Whincup said. “That was quality motorsport going on.”
Polesitter Mostert faded to third, two and a half seconds back of the lead duo at the checkered flag but still on the podium in just his second race back since the crash at Bathurst last fall that ended his season prematurely.
McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen rounded out the top five, followed by Caruso, Scott Pye, Jason Bright, Davison and Craig Lowndes in the top 10.
Nick Percat’s Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport entry was unable to take the start after battery issues on the formation lap.
The Clipsal 500 Adelaide concludes with a 78 lap, 250 km marathon on Sunday afternoon at 3:20 p.m. local time.
RESULTS: V8 Supercars Championship; Clipsal 500 Adelaide; Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit; March 5, 2016
- James Courtney
- Jamie Whincup
- Chaz Mostert
- Scott McLaughlin
- Shane van Gisbergen
- Michael Caruso
- Scott Pye
- Jason Bright
- Will Davison
- Craig Lowndes
- Mark Winterbottom
- Cameron Waters
- Rick Kelly
- Fabian Coulthard
- James Moffat
- Todd Kelly
- Tim Slade
- Dale Wood
- David Reynolds
- Andre Heimgartner
- Lee Holdsworth
- Aaren Russell
- Garth Tander
- Tim Blanchard
- Chris Pither (DNF)
- Nick Percat (DNS)
About the Writer
Jack Cobourn is the international motorsports correspondent at Race Chaser Online, and covers the V8 Supercars Championship, Rally Cars and the FIA World Rally Championship. Cobourn has been an avid follower of motorsports for years, having not missed a Formula One race in 16 seasons. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in history and a minor in journalism.
Email Jack at: Jack.Cobourn@yahoo.com
Follow Jack on Twitter: @JackCWriter92
Email Race Chaser Online: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews