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Whincup whips through the wet


Falcon racer Jamie Whincup masters the conditions to post victory in the opening V8 Supercar race at Winton.

May 20, 2007, 1.45pm. Ford Falcon racer Jamie Whincup won a mayhem-packed first race at Round 4 of the Australian V8 Supercar series at Winton, Victoria, yesterday.

Whincup made up 20 places in his Team Vodafone Falcon through a perfectly-timed pitstop and great tyre management on the rain-lashed racetrack.

His teammate, Craig Lowndes, was less fortunate, crashing out of third place with two laps to run.

“We struggled a little bit in qualifying and our car wasn’t that quick in the dry,” Whincup said.

“To our advantage it started to rain (and) the car was quick. We made an educated guess on the strategy and pitted early. We did that, got out and were surprisingly quick.

“We got a lucky one in those conditions. You’ve got to make a call and once you’re out there you’re out there.

“I knew there were some cars coming through on slicks (treadless dry weather tyres) but there’s not much you can do about that.

“You can’t plan this…we fell into this one.”

Ford performance Racing’s Steven Richards (pictured) was another to benefit from strategy by staying out later and returning on slick tyres to scythe through the field in the closing laps.

He passed both Toll HSV Holden Commodore drivers, Garth Tander and Rick Kelly, to finish second after starting 18th.

“It was marginal to go on to slicks but I knew if it didn’t rain it was the right call,” Richards said.

“We decided to hang out there and wish, hope that there was a late safety car but unfortunately it was my teammate (Mark Winterbottom) that brought it out,” Richards said.

Rick Kelly held on for third, just. He was passed by James Courtney’s Falcon on the final corner but stewards later said it was an illegal pass under a yellow flag and added a pitlane penalty to his time.

“I was pretty confident we were going to get second there but Richo was like the flash,” Kelly said. “I didn’t know he was about to pass me until he was in front.”



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