Not many drivers can say they won a V8 race at speeds over 250km/h while being "away with the pixies". Will Davison can.
Just three races into the series and Ford's Davison is already tightening his grip on the V8 Supercar Championship. Davison - despite admitting to being "away with the pixies" while leading late in yesterday's 59-lap race - sealed his third win of the year and the ninth of his career.
Davison fought his way from sixth on the grid to beat home defending champion Jamie Whincup in a Holden. Whincup managed to slip past polesitter Garth Tander just three laps from the end to seal a runner-up finish.
Davison said towards the end while leading he felt uncomfortable with his tyres going off after bouncing through the chicane lap after lap on two wheels.
"They certainly do degrade and you're never comfortable around this place," he said. "You lose concentration for a second and you're in the wall so quickly.
"I really had to talk to myself a lot - I started going away with the pixies there the last few laps.
I had to keep my eye on the prize with the car getting looser and looser. Clearly we're pretty strong but I think we're going to have to tweak it up a bit to hang on to P1."
Davison made a lightning start to set up his race as a tangle started on the front row.
"The first lap was awesome for me," Davison said. "Obviously starting sixth wasn't ideal but I knew we were better and quicker than that but getting through the traffic was going to be the tricky thing," he said. "To pop out second from sixth at turn two was fantastic."
Davison harried leader Tander for the first third of the race and eventually made his move at the first corner. The Ford star swept past the West Australian to seize the lead and, with clean air, pulled away.
"Garth was going pretty well, I couldn't get a run on him and he certainly wasn't making mistakes," Davison said."But my car came on quite well in the middle part of the stint and again I had to play it smart - I managed to get a good run onto him on the straight and outbraked him down to turn one."
As for New Zealand's big hope, Shane van Gisbergen, one of Split Enz's most famous tunes is History Never Repeats but unfortunately for "The Giz", it did in a big way yesterday.
Fabian Coulthard drove a steady race to finish the best of the Kiwis in ninth place but, from a New Zealand perspective, the big story was Van Gisbergen and hopes were high after he flew through qualifying to grab second on the grid.
But his race was virtually over after the first two corners, in one of the most spectacular starts to a Hamilton event in recent memory and after further problems (and mistakes) he limped home in 22nd place. Van Gisbergen got the quickest start and had gained a slight edge on Tander as they hit the first corner. The New Zealander slid slightly as he locked up the brakes but was still in a good position until he received a massive punt from David Reynolds. Reynolds, one of the series' most promising drivers, was running in a respectable fourth place before his race was over six laps from the finish with a front-end issue.
"I hit the brakes hard [going into the corner] but still felt like I was in control," Van Gisbergen told the Herald on Sunday. "Next thing David hit me and I knew something was wrong."
The Stone Brothers Racing camp were not impressed with Reynolds' error but FPR's team boss Tim Edwards defended his charge. "Paul raced the perfect race," said Edwards. "Shane had over-committed to the corner anyway and there are two sides to every story."
"It's one of those things but it is pretty frustrating," admitted Van Gisbergen. "We felt very confident going into the race, especially after zipping through qualifying. [Today] is another day and we have to bounce back."
Davison was the biggest beneficiary of the dodgem cars style start, leaping from sixth to second within a heartbeat. He tracked the experienced Tander for a while, with Whincup right on his tail.
"I was waiting for my chance but Garth wasn't making mistakes," said Davison. "With Jamie right behind me I felt like the meat in the sandwich. It is tricky to outbrake someone on this circuit and I needed to make good decisions but eventually I took my chance."
Davison made his move on the 27th lap (of the 59-lap race) and was never headed. "We have been on top in every session and these cars are just rockets," added a jubilant Davison.
Whincup was content with his second place but was ruing a rookie error when he stalled in the pits, which cost him a valuable eight seconds.
The top 10 was rounded out by Craig Lowndes, Rick Kelly, Steve Owen, James Courtney, Michael Caruso, Coulthard and Russell Ingall.
A consolation for Van Gisbergen is that last year's horrible Saturday was followed by a dream Sunday, when he drove perfectly to win his first V8 Supercars race.
To paraphase a famous American sporting personality, here's hoping today is deja vu all over again.
Championship table after five races
1. Will Davison 717
2. Jamie Whincup 687
3. Mark Winterbottom 507
4. Garth Tander 497
5. Shane Van Gisbergen 471
9. Fabian Coulthard 399
28. Greg Murphy 33By Michael Burgess Email Michael