Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Mixed Fortunes for Whincup; Courtney's Lead Slashed Then Extended as Townsville 400 Unfolded

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Mixed Fortunes for Whincup; Courtney's Lead Slashed Then Extended as Townsville 400 Unfolded

Article excerpt

Byline: BROOKE OSMOND Supercar expert

TWO-time defending champion Jamie Whincup was the man to beat after claiming pole position for race 15 at the Townsville 400 last weekend.

Mark Winterbottom sat next to Whincup on the grid and took the lead from the start. The lead was soon taken from him by Garth Tander, and Whincup followed. Whincup was then able to steal the lead from an aggressive Tander.

Craig Lowndes started the race in 10th position and had a shocker at the start, hitting the side of his car against the wall on the opening lap, forcing him into the garage.

It didn't get any better for Lowndes, as things got chaotic in pit lane when he rejoined the race 10 laps later. Due to an infringement in pit lane, Lowndes was forced back into the pits to do a drive-through penalty.

Two drivers who had a disastrous qualifying session were Russell Ingall and Jason Richards. The former qualified 27th and Richards 25th. However, during the race they did exceptionally well to recover, with Ingall finishing sixth and Richards seventh.

Whincup went on to win the race, making it his eighth victory of the year. Tander finished second and Winterbottom was third.

Whincup was able to grab back some valuable points on the championship lead of James Courtney, who finished fifth.

Going into the weekend, 57 points separated Courtney and Whincup and after race 15 there were only 18 points.

In Sunday's qualifying Whincup was on top of the time sheet with a time of 1min 12.83s, recorded six minutes into the session.

However, Whincup wasn't satisfied and later he produced a cracker of a lap, in a time of 1min 12.72s, to claim his eighth pole position of the season. He was the only man to record a lap time below 1min 13s over the weekend.

His team-mate Lowndes parked his Commodore next to Whincup on the grid after claiming second with a 1min 13. …

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