The Red Rooster Sydney Supersprint (Rd 9 of the V8 SuperCars) at Sydney Motorsport Park was held in perfect conditions this year – last year’s drenching a distant memory as the V8s and supporting categories thundered their way around SMSP.
Saturdays 15min qualifying saw the return of a renewed Chaz Mostert. As with most of the field he went out on used rubber to get a feel for the track, returning two laps later for fresh tyres and a tilt at an “up the front” grid position. The saying “new tyres are fast tyres” proved to be accurate for Chaz, his second lap on fresh boots breaking the 9-year SMSP lap record with a 1:28.8 and earning him pole position.
Shane Van Gisbergen (SVG) and Jamie Whincup made it two and three with their fastest laps also coming on fresh tyres.
In race one Mostert’s pole position didn’t even last until turn two. SVG took it from him by the end of the drag race at turn two and a small miscalculation by Chaz saw him relegated to sixth by turn four as Whincup, Tander and Courtney also edged passed him. He worked really hard to grab two places back during the course of the race but that was all he wrestled back. The race settled down and being a short 31 laps it was all over very quickly with SVG, Whincup and Courtney taking the lollies at the chequered flag.
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Sunday brought out the mild 20 degree blue skies and again Chaz came out to show it off again. No lap record but a low 1:29 had him basking in the pole position spotlight once again. No prizes for guessing who the two grinning white sharks were beside and in back of him were. Yep, you guessed it. Lurking ready to ruin his parade were SVG and Whincup. But Sunday brought out an extremely motivated Craig Lowndes. qualifying fourth and sitting on the grid looking over SVG’s shoulder. This race was Lowndsey’s 600th career race start, and the publicity had been built up to fever pitch all weekend about this fact. So, whether SVG was a victim of the hype or he was too concerned about Chaz on his left on the front of the grid, when the green lights lit up SVG got a poor start and Lowndes jumped him like a bandit and stole 3rd, 2nd and then 1st place all before the 300 mtrs to the end of pit straight and took the lead from then on. Thigh slapping and shouts of “that’s bloody incredible” had the entire spectator throng gob-smacked at the audacity Craig showed off the start line and the incredible racecraft that we have come to know over his twenty magnificient years of entertaining Australian race fans. Whincup sensed that Craig had a mission to make his 600th race a victory and as Whincup was still looking for his 100th race win, it was on for young and old. Whincup stuck to Lowndes like chewy on a boot, and neither Mostert or SVG were equal to the intensity of this match race. They both decided to take their last pit stop at the same time, and when Lowndes swung into his pit position first Whincup was still negotiating his stopping manoeuvre. Under ten seconds for the pitstop with four new tyres and fuel. Well disciplined 6-man teams drilled to precision and …… Whincup got out 1.5 seconds ahead of Lowndes and, friends, I’m afraid that was “all she wrote”. Heartbreak for Lowndes as he never got to within 2.9 seconds of Whincup for the remainder of the race, and Whincup went on to win his 100th race.