PUKEKOHE, New Zealand – Jamie Whincup won the first race at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint to cut the gap between he and teammate Shane van Gisbergen to 142 points in the championship standings.
“I got off the line well and the car was quick,” he said. “We’ll keep tuning it up and make sure we keep moving forward as the races go on.”
van Gisbergen was second and freely admitted that he was no match for Whincup in this race. “Jamie had awesome speed and I had nothing for him,” he said. “Second’s alright on a tough race, but we’ll try and tune it up for the afternoon and get him back.”
Scott McLaughlin, in his penultimate round racing for Garry Rogers Motorsport, brought home his Volvo third after holding off a dive from Mark Winterbottom on the opening lap.
“He was probably trying to give me a serve from Gold Coast,” he said regarding Winterbottom’s daring move on the first lap. “Everything’s all good and I’m feeling good. The car was nice, but I was just trying to hold on to my rear tires! It’s really hard.”
Whincup led from the pole at the start of the race and drove out to the lead before an incident on lap 1. Jason Bright’s Team BOC Holden Commodore made hard contract with the infield retaining wall after making contact with Chris Pither’s Super Black Racing Ford Falcon. Bright had extensive damage on the right-rear and blocked the pit lane entrance, forcing the Safety Car to come out and the race to be red-flagged. He will miss the second Saturday race and could be forced to retire for the weekend.
When the field came back to the green flag, Whincup drove off the front of the field to a six-second lead over van Gisbergen, one that he would hold for the duration of the race.
Dale Wood’s Team GB Nissan Altima was busy behind Whincup. First, he made contact with his team owner, Todd Kelly, in the hairpin on lap 15. Six laps later, he made similar contact exiting the hairpin with the Wilson Security Racing Volvo of James Moffat. Moffat paid Wood back a lap later by overshooting the right-hand corner at the end of the back straight and reentering the circuit right in front of Wood. Wood had nowhere to go and plowed directly into Moffat’s rear bumper, heavily damaging the No. 96′ right-front corner in the process.
Wood was not pleased with the contact post-race. “I was going through the back chicane there and he just flew off,” he said. “He moved out of the way and he just speared off across the grass and then speared on back in front of me on the grass. I gave him as much room as I could on the left-hand side, but he still tried to drive into the side of me and I’m not happy about that. ”
The next race is at 11:45 p.m. EDT.
About the Writer
James Pike is a multi-faceted reporter for Race Chaser Online and an analyst on the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
He is the lead correspondent for Race Chaser Online’s coverage of Australian Supercars and also covers regional touring series events in the Carolinas. He is a graduate of the Motorsports Management program at Belmont Abbey College and currently resides in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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