The Australian V8 Supercars series began their season this weekend and I was lucky enough to be home for the weekend and able to watch the series online. They have an excellent live app with streaming audio, timing and scoring, and a Top 10 “dot tracker” that you can sign up for. If you’re a fan of the series here in the states where we don’t have live coverage it’s a great way to watch the races. It’s something some of our racing series here (IndyCar) should look at (hint, hint).
Wow! I am so glad I stayed up late Friday night/early Saturday morning to watch the opening race of the 2012 Australian V8 Supercars series; it was most definitely a thriller! It turned into a battle of strategy between between 2011 Champion Jamie Whincup and Will Davison. Whincup chose a three stop strategy and Davison (and the rest of the field) used a two stop strategy. It appeared that Whincup had chosen wrong until a Safety Car period following a lap 45 crash resulted in pit stops from most of the field. These stops were a little earlier than they wanted, balancing out the extra stop Whincup had to make. With no Safety Car periods the rest of the race, most everyone else had to stop as well. In addition to the early stops, Whincup helped himself by turning fast lap after fast lap in a brilliant performance. He set lap records 3 separate times in the last 1/3 of the race! Davison stayed on his two stop strategy while Whincup charged through the field. It appeared Davison might be able to hold out for the win but Whincup was just too fast. Davison got held up in traffic and Whincup caught him up, passing him for the win going into the final turn as Davison’s car coughed on fumes.
Whincup’s drive was something special to watch. It reminded of Michael Schumacher’s heyday with Ferrari in F1 when Ross Brawn would come on the radio and tell him “Michael, we need ## seconds” and Schumacher would step up his performance and gain the time the team needed. Coming on the heels of father’s death just a week prior, it also reminded me of Brett Favre’s epic Monday Night Football performance against Oakland after his father’s death in 2003.
What a way to start the season!!
The best way to describe Race 2 of the Clipsal 500 is uneventful (but that doesn’t mean boring). In a surprise for a street race of any series, there was no Safety Car period. Despite going the whole way under green, the race didn’t turn into a fuel conservation race for the leaders; Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander, and Mark Winterbottom fought with eventual winner Will Davison throughout the race. Whincup’s car developed some sort of problem with the car just before halfway and was passed by Tander ,Winterbottom, and Davison; he wasn’t a threat the rest of the race. About 10 laps later, Davison passed Tander for the lead, Winterbottom followed him through and things more or less stabilized for the front 3 for the rest of the race. After the second round of pit stops, the leaders had enough to go to the end and Davison established a lead that usually sat at around 4 seconds, maintaining it until the end. Davison and Ford Performance Racing redeemed themselves after running short on fuel yesterday!
I was very impressed with one aspect of the officiating in Race 2. V8 Supercars has an electronic system in place that catches the cars shortcutting turns. If you shortcut the turns you are warned and if you do it too many times you’re brought in for a penalty. Right after the second round of pit stops, there was fluid overflowing from Davison’s car in a turn; Tander was right behind in P2, slipped in the fluid and shortcutted the turn while saving the car. Common sense ruled the day and the officials removed that incident from Tander’s “kerb hop count” because of the circumstances. A fair decision, I’d say.