The V8 Supercar circus rolled into Sydney for the Sydney Motorsport Park 400 which was a welcome return to the Eastern Creek Track after a hiatus of a couple of years. Supported by a few National racing classes including the Australian GT Championship, Porsche Carrera Cup and Touring Car Masters it was a great weekend of motorsport.
Since the V8’s last visit to the track, Eastern Creek, better known now as Sydney Motorsports Park has undergone a huge face lift. This face lift combined with some track modifications and resurfacing meant it was going to make it a level playing field for the current crop of V8 drivers, racing on it for the first time.
Saturdays’s qualifying went well for the current series leader Jamie Whincup picking up pole position for the first race and narrowly being beaten by Scott McLaughlin for pole in the second race. Local favorite and second in the championship Mark Winterbottom qualified poorly way back in 17th for both races.
With all practice and qualifying in the the dry it was a different story came race day. The heavens opened up, drenching the track half an hour before the first race. This led to scramble amongst the teams to change to wet weather setups and much work behind the scenes on race strategy.
Going into race one it didn’t last a lap before David Reynolds and Tim Slade came together causing the first of many safety car controlled laps. Unfortunately for Tim Slade this accident caused damage to the chassis of his VF Holden Commodore ending his race weekend early. Once the spray settled Shane Van Gisbergen displayed amazing car control in the wet to comfortably win the first race.
With engine problems in the first race, pole sitter for the next race Scott McLaughlin’s team Garry Rogers Motorsport replaced the V8 engine in his Volvo S60 in the hour between races. Making it to the grid with only minutes to spare, however McLaughlin’s race had hardly got underway when his rear wheel came off on the first lap.
With the rain steady though the entire second race, Shane Van Gisbergen got out to a comfortable lead before the safety car closed the field back up. A tighter battle ensued with both Jamie Whincup and Ford Pepsi Max Crew driver Chaz Mostert pushing Van Gisbergen to the end, in a close victory.
Sunday was a different story with the sun out for both qualifying and the race. Scott McLaughlin after being very quick, but plagued by car issues on Saturday was on a mission to prove how good his Volvo S60 was and salvage something for his team. Winning pole position for the final race of the weekend, in one of the closest qualifying sessions was how he rewarded them. The top ten within 200th/sec of each other in the final qualifying.
The race got underway but action was short lived before a safety car took control after an accident between David Reynolds and Scott Pye with them both ending up in the concrete barrier on the first lap. With all the teams opting for different tire strategies with the compulsory hard and soft compounds the middle of the race led to a lot of position changes. In the closing stages of the race McLaughlin led the chasing pack with a 4 second lead, however Nick Percat had other ideas. Percat pushed to the end, but sadly ran out of laps and time as Scott McLaughlin took the victory by 0.3/sec after 200km of hard racing.
A good weekend for Shane Van Gisbergen who moved up to forth in the championship and Jaime Whincup maintained his lead going into the business end of the season.
Next Round for the V8 Supercars is the Wilson Security Sandown 500, held through the 12th to the 14th of September.
V8 Supercar Results – Sydney Motorsport Park 400
Race 26 Results
1 Shane Van Gisbergen Team Tekno VIP Petfoods
2 Garth Tander Holden Racing Team
3 Craig Lowndes Red Bull Racing Australia
4 Jamie Whincup Red Bull Racing Australia
5 Michael Caruso Norton Hornets