BENALLA, Victoria, Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online International Motorsport Correspondent Jack Cobourn — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Tim Slade rounded off a dream weekend at the Woodstock Winton SuperSprint, winning Sunday’s V8 Supercars Championship race at a brisk pace over defending series champion Mark Winterbottom.
Having won Saturday’s race prior, giving him his first two career series victories after more than 200 starts, the 30-year-old said he couldn’t believe his luck.
“What was it, 226 starts and then two (wins) in one weekend, a pole and quickest in practice?” Slade said. “I hope this isn’t a dream … I hope I stay awake, don’t wake up (or) pinch myself.”
Chaz Mostert had secured pole position for race 11 on of the season on Sunday, setting the new V8 Supercars’ track record of 1:18.760 at Winton.
In a change from yesterday’s cold weather, the day was sunny, with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The new surface, combined with the weather changes, created grip problems all weekend and teams were working towards a good setup.
Mostert bungled the start, as did most of the field, to the point that DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard look like he jumped as he flew into the lead.
Coulthard may have actually jumped the start, as it was reviewed by the stewards, but replays showed him going right as the light turned green and he was cleared of all fault on lap seven.
Winterbottom and Shane van Gisbergen pitted for a fuel dump at the end of the first lap. Mostert was in at the end of the second lap, and 8.2 seconds worth of fuel was put in.
Back in the midpack, the racing was aggressive as rookie Cam Waters lost three spots. He had been bumped around since the first lap, and as he dove into the pits, Nick Percat did well to avoid him, except he was bumped by Dale Wood in one of the Nissan entries.
10 laps in, Coulthard had a gap of 1.4 seconds over Slade. Coulthard had dropped off a bit in pace compared to Mostert and Lowndes, however, and Slade was closing in, so a pit stop was in the DJR Team Penske driver’s near future. Despite this, the gap from first to third was over five seconds.
Whincup pitted from fourth on lap 15 and took on 19.18 seconds of fuel, good enough for 65 liters. Meanwhile, Slade began to close on Coulthard and yet, he didn’t pit. The Holden was right on the Ford’s bumper, and though the battle looked fierce, it was slowing them down as Michael Caruso was running in the 1:19s while the two leaders were in the 1:20s.
Coulthard and Slade pitted at the end of lap 18, and Coulthard ran off the road a bit entering the pits. Slade got out ahead of Coulthard, and Jason Bright now led Lowndes, but it was academic as Lee Holdsworth stopped on track with a gearbox issue, bringing out a caution flag and drawing the safety car on-track. Lowndes hit the pits just in time.
Aaren Russell pitted in with a puncture that saw him leave the road at 11, possibly the result of a bump at turn two with Tim Blanchard. The team wheeled the car into the garage, and a suspension issue may have been found.
Most of the field hit the pits during safety car, with Mostert stopping on consecutive laps to take on a bigger fuel load so as to be good to go to the finish.
Rick Kelly led Slade on the restart, with Coulthard in third. Slade looked to get past Kelly at turn 10, but couldn’t before Will Davison got Coulthard for third. Mostert pitted in with a right rear puncture at that point and James Courtney also came in with damage, caused by contact between the two on track that sent Mostert’s car leaping slightly into the air.
Courtney went back to the garage, and the team worked to get the damage fixed. He would return to track, albeit 13 laps behind.
Back up front, Slade got by Rick Kelly as the Nissan ran wide, and the Holden began to drive into the distance. Davison was now pressuring Kelly for second, but Coulthard was not too far behind, ready to pounce if Davison erred.
Coulthard closed in on Davison, finally getting by Davison at turn 11, then David Reynolds capitalized on Davison’s misfortune and got by too. Up front, Slade had a 4.475-second lead over the chasing pack.
By the time Coulthard finally moved into second on lap 28, the gap was nearly six seconds between he and leader Slade. Come halfway, that margin had become eight seconds, with one more fuel stop remaining for Slade. The prediction was that he would need 12 seconds worth of fuel.
Slade led by nine seconds on lap 36, but the estimation was that he couldn’t get out ahead of Winterbottom, who was predicted to be the effective leader and was sitting in seventh.
Slade pitted in on lap 41, and picked up 19.8 seconds of fuel, but crucially, he pulled out a five-second cushion over Winterbottom. Coulthard now led, but as he had to pit, all eyes were on the Slade-Winterbottom battle.
That battle took center stage on lap 44 when then-leader Scott McLaughlin pitted for the final time, and at that point, Slade was actually pulling away from Winterbottom — with the gap being 5.129 seconds between the two.
And in the end, it was enough despite a fast-closing Coulthard in third. Slade grabbed the win over Frosty, who picked up crucial points in the title tilt and leaves Winton as the new points leader.
“It’s a long season, but to get to the front at any time is really good,” Winterbottom said. “Today, to salvage the position when we qualified tenth, that’s what it’s all about.”
The V8 Supercars Championship now takes a month off before returning to action on June 18-19 at Hidden Valley Raceway.
RESULTS: International V8 Sueprcars Championship; Woodstock Winton SuperSprint; Winton Motor Raceway; May 22, 2016
- Tim Slade
- Mark Winterbottom
- Fabian Coulthard
- Shane Van Gisbergen
- Cameron Waters
- David Reynolds
- Scott Pye
- Craig Lowndes
- Jamie Whincup
- Michael Caruso
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
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