Motorsport: Davison leads V8 championship

By Michael Brown

Amid all the emotion of Jason Bright's overall victory at this weekend's ITM 400 Auckland, it was easy to overlook the fact the V8 Supercars championship has a new leader.

Four-time champion Jamie Whincup led heading into the third round of the series at Pukekohe but endured a topsy-turvy weekend and relinquished the overall lead to Ford's Will Davison.

Davison has accumulated 697 points, 16 points ahead of Whincup in a Holden. Whincup's teammate Craig Lowndes (591) is third with Fabian Coulthard (552) the leading Kiwi in fifth.

Teenager Scott McLaughlin, who yesterday became the youngest driver in V8 Supercars history to win a race, endured a difficult day when he crashed out of this morning's race and failed to start for the final instalment. It saw him slip down the standings to 10th.

Davison won this morning's first race - the first for Ford at Pukekohe in nine years and only second in history at the spiritual home of New Zealand motorsport - but isn't getting carried away about leading the championship.

"I didn't expect to be leading at this time in the year,'' he said. "I don't really want to talk about it. I found myself in this position last year where you are three rounds in and everyone is talking about the championship. So much can change so quickly.

"It's definitely encouraging. I expected the first rounds to be a little tough for us because we don't have a great handle on the car but we have dug really, really deep when it counts and we have had a fairly clean run so far. Who knows what December will bring but we will be fighting really hard.''

So will Whincup. The Red Bull Racing driver emerged from the weekend with his first win of the year and backed it up with a third in the final race but was also at the tail of the field for two races and inexplicably ran off the track in today's first race to big cheers from the crowd at Pukekohe.

Ford showed good speed all weekend but most drivers have pointed to the pace of Brad Jones Racing and Bright and Coulthard.

The BJR team, who don't have wallets as deep as many others, have made big gains in the last two race meetings and have benefited greatly from the arrival of the Car of the Future which has levelled the playing field.

Only four teams won races last year but already drivers from five teams have stood on top of the podium after only three rounds.

The championship moves to Western Australia for next month's Perth 360.

- APNZ

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