Jamie Whincup took charge of the V8 Supercars championship decider in Sydney by dominating Race 1, while Mark Winterbottom and Craig Lowndes collided.
Whincup came into the weekend with a 20-point lead over Triple Eight teammate Lowndes and 300 points available from the two races on the street track around Olympic Park.
While Whincup put his Holden on pole ahead of title contender Mark Winterbottom, Lowndes made a mistake in the top 10 shootout and started back in 10th.
Whincup made a poor getaway and was swamped by Winterbottom and Shane van Gisbergen, but then threw his car down the inside into Turn 1. As he slid sideways, Whincup took Winterbottom and van Gisbergen out wide, allowing Jonothan Webb to slice into the lead. It took just three laps for Whincup to dive past the Tekno Holden and he controlled the race thereafter.
Winterbottom and Lowndes pitted out of sequence to try to clear traffic, and rose to third and fourth behind Whincup and Webb when everyone else stopped during the first safety car period.
Lowndes overtook Winterbottom on the restart lap, but the Ford then ran into the back of the Holden and spun it. The Commodore bounced back off the tires and into Winterbottom, who was then collected by David Reynolds.
Remarkably all three cars continued, but the day would get worse still for Lowndes and Winterbottom.
Lowndes could not get a full fuel load into his damaged car at the final stops and had to pit again. That dropped him to 22nd, from where he could only recover to 15th, leaving him 110 points adrift with 150 available on Sunday.
FORD DRIVERS’ TITLE BIDS END
Winterbottom’s battered car survived until Tony D’Alberto clipped the wall in front of him, causing a chain reaction with Winterbottom and Jason Bright that sent the Ford firmly into the barriers and out of the title fight.
Behind Whincup and Webb, van Gisbergen claimed what could be a tenuous third place. He lost ground in the congested pitlane during the first stops under the safety car, clashed with Tim Blanchard, then secured the final podium position in a penultimate lap lunge that sent Fabian Coulthard into the wall.
Fourth-placed Bright stands to gain if Coulthard is penalized.
Will Davison’s championship bid ended as he could only manage fifth, ahead of D’Alberto.
Nissan got three cars in the top 10, with Michael Caruso (from 24th on the grid), Rick and Todd Kelly in seventh, ninth and 10th, surrounding Tim Slade’s Erebus Mercedes.
Garth Tander came from last to eighth following a massive qualifying crash, only to suffer brake problems and fall back again.
Results - 74 laps:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Holden 2h02m28.2246s 2. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden +1.7910s 3. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Holden +3.7742s 4. Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden +4.5035s 5. Will Davison FPR Ford +5.7849s 6. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Holden +9.6494s 7. Michael Caruso Nissan +10.9204s 8. Tim Slade Rosenberg/Erebus Mercedes +11.2380s 9. Rick Kelly Nissan +11.7229s10. Todd Kelly Nissan +12.0704s11. David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford +12.8817s12. Alex Davison Schwerkolt/FPR Ford +13.5513s13. Alexandre Premat Garry Rogers Holden +14.4161s14. Garth Tander HRT Holden +14.7757s15. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Holden +15.8193s16. David Wall Britek/BJR Holden +17.4227s17. Dean Fiore Dumbrell Holden +18.5240s18. Nick Percat HRT Holden +19.9741s19. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden +56.1569s20. James Moffat Nissan +1 lap21. Chaz Mostert Dick Johnson Ford +4 laps22. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw/HRT Holden +14 laps23. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Mercedes +17 lapsRetirements: Scott Pye Dumbrell Holden 62 laps Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford 62 laps Maro Engel Erebus Mercedes 53 laps Tim Blanchard Dick Johnson Ford 16 laps Scott McLaughlin Garry Rogers Holden 10 laps