Talking points from the Sydney SuperSprint

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Jamie Whincup wrote history over the weekend. (AAP Image/Edge Photographics)

    Sydney Motorsport Park played host to Round 9 of the 2017 Supercars championship, as the last of the solo driver events were completed ahead of the hotly anticipated Season of Endurance.

    From a milestone victory for a six-time series champion, to the controversial tussle between two title protagonists, here are the key talking points.

    ‘Bro’ aggro
    It was only a matter of time before championship contenders Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin were going to lock horns on track, and the Kiwi pair came to blows on Saturday, with severe points ramifications.

    At the midway stage of the 120-kilometre race, the Safety Car had been deployed, but it was not until the race was being restarted that the aggro between the Holden and Ford camps commenced.

    Both cars were engaged in contact coming down the pit-straight, as Van Gisbergen looked to take the advantage. Into Turn 2, McLaughlin bumped his compatriot’s car – which had now taken the lead – sending the 2016-series champion into a spin.

    A 15-second penalty was immediately slapped upon McLaughlin, as Van Gisbergen’s chances at recovery were grim.

    Additional penalties were applied to both drivers post-race, with Van Gisbergen hit with a 33-second time penalty for breaching the restart procedure.

    McLaughlin was given an additional 18 seconds, equalling the penalty taken by the Red Bull Holden driver.

    The net result meant that the championship leader, McLaughlin, now only holds a 12-point lead over Jamie Whincup, while Van Gisbergen trails by 258, in fourth.

    Safety Car restarts
    The fallout from the incident between the title rivals continued into Sunday, as criticism was brought forward regarding the entire Safety Car restart procedure.

    It was argued that the Safety Car should be allowed to accelerate away from the field earlier than it did, to prevent the “big log jam”, as described by Van Gisbergen – who was seen overlapping and bumping with McLaughlin on the pit-straight before the green flag.

    The belief is that the leading driver should return to racing speed at the final corner and the Safety Car withdrawn earlier.

    Whether any changes will be taken onboard remains to be seen. The damage to the respective parties’ championship results however, has already been done.

    Whincup the all-time winner
    The record books continued to be written by Jamie Whincup, as he eclipsed Craig Lowndes’ 105 Supercars race wins, to become the all-time winner in Australian touring car history.

    Claiming his 106th career win, 12 months on from where he won his 100th race, Whincup cruised to victory in the 200km Sunday race, besting his competitors on strategy.

    With ten laps remaining, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team orchestrated to have Van Gisbergen let Whincup pass, with a trio of Ford drivers in hot pursuit.

    Whincup won by a comfortable ten-second margin, over Saturday winner Fabian Coulthard and Van Gisbergen, who could hold McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert at bay in those dramatic final laps.

    Super debut for Stanaway in Super2
    Another Kiwi superstar burst onto the scene over the weekend, with the internationally renowned Richie Stanaway making an impressive debut for Prodrive in the Super2 development category.

    Stanaway took his maiden victory in Race 4, taking the lead by flying under the radar down the inside of front-row starters Anton de Pasquale and Todd Hazelwood – netting a third-place finish in the overall round standings.

    The GP2, GP3 and WEC ace continues to mount his case for a full-time berth in the main game for 2018, however with Jason Bright intending to drive on for Prodrive, the options look slim for the 25-year-old.

    Stanaway is however contracted to be a co-driver for Prodrive until the end of 2018, gearing up to pair with Cam Waters in the #6 Monster Energy Ford for the upcoming Endurance series, kicking off at Sandown in September.

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