Motorsport: Whincup reigns amid controversy

By Ben McKay

Jamie Whincup. Photo / Mark Horsburgh
Jamie Whincup. Photo / Mark Horsburgh

Reigning V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup has risen above controversy and crashes to win both races in an action-packed day of racing at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.

After shunting team-mate Craig Lowndes out of the lead in an inside overtaking move from race one, Whincup led from start to finish from Ford rival Mark Winterbottom to win race two.

Lowndes, who suffered a stewards' penalty for taping up a rear window hole, recovered from starting race two at the back of the grid to finish fifth. Lowndes' aggressive overtaking of almost the entire field helped to ease an otherwise dark day - and prevented his championship points lead from being even more badly dented.

Fabian Coulthard took third ahead of Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin, who fought off Lowndes in the final two laps to maintain his position.

The madcap second race was hit with a first-lap crash by Volvo's Robert Dahlgren and James Courtney, who came together in the congestion at Symmons Plains' hairpin bend.

Erebus Motorsport also struggled, with Will Davison finishing 23rd after ending up in the gravel at the hairpin, and Lee Holdsworth lifted up in a supercar sandwich in a congested racetrack.

Late in the race, Chaz Mostert rear-ended Rick Kelly, sending him to the gravel for the second straight race.

The Tasmanian meet concludes with a final 200-kilometre race today.

Earlier, Lowndes was hit by his own team-mate and the stewards in a tough day at Symmons Plains. In race one, the V8 Supercars championship and race leader was hit by Whincup in a robust move, losing the lead and eventually finishing eighth.

Then a stewards' inquiry ruled Lowndes had to start the next race from the back of the grid after tape was found over a hole his car's rear window during qualifying. The penalty was applied because the tape constituted a safety issue and gave Lowndes a slight aerodynamic advantage.

It's far cry from the veteran Red Bull racer's outlook halfway through race one when he led the race and was looking forward to a second front-row start in race two.

Whincup said the pair's bump was "unfortunate" but he had no regrets over his passing move: "I feel like I haven't done anything wrong. We've been mates for 10 years and hopefully that can continue."

Team owner Roland Dane struggled to hide his frustration: "I can sympathise with both of them, I'm just annoyed it's between both our cars. They know not to do that and it won't be happening again."

Stewards are yet to rule on the legality of Whincup's passing move but have announced an investigation.

Courtney placed second in race one with Ford's Winterbottom third. Russell Ingall, who qualified third fastest, held off Volvo's McLaughlin for fourth place.

- AAP

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