MOTOGP convert Casey Stoner has claimed his best ever result on four wheels, finishing fifth from a field of 31 as reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup extended his championship lead on an eventful Sunday at Queensland Raceway.
Whincup added yet another podium to his tally to lead team-mate Craig Lowndes by 129 points after eight rounds of the championship and possibly could have made it more had he not suffered double tyre failure in race three.
After winning Saturday’s race from pole, Whincup made it two poles from as many qualifying sessions only to be jumped by youngster Scott McLaughlin on the opening lap and relegated to second in race two. Lowndes suffered a grid penalty from a Saturday altercation and could manage only a 12th after starting from 15th. And while the Red Bull VF Commodores had obvious speed, race three was a question of what could have been after both drivers were unable to capitalise in qualifying.
Whincup and Lowndes started from ninth and 10th respectively. And Lowndes finished sixth as Whincup – and four other drivers – fell victim to tyre failure, were forced to pit and effectively had their races ended. The race was won by rookie Chaz Mostert ahead of FPR duo Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom.
“The car was good today but just not quite good enough – and we just didn’t have the luck in race three,” Whincup said.
“Qualifying was ordinary for race three but that was my fault. And from there, well, it wasn’t the greatest finish to the weekend. We were pretty happy up until then. We came away with some good points but it would have been nice to get some more points from race three.
“We did some good things today but we just didn’t quite get the most out of it.”
Lowndes, too was left ruing a poor qualifying run in a car with race-winning speed.
“We fixed the back of the car overnight but we struggled with understeer to get a run on anyone at turns one and two which meant I couldn’t quite attack,” Lowndes said.
“We were strong under brakes and drive, so the weekend was a little disappointing in the respect we couldn’t quite capitalise. I didn’t quite get the best out of the car in qualifying and from there it’s pretty hard to make up too much ground with the field so close together.”
Meanwhile, Casey Stoner well and truly established himself as a potential V8 Supercars star of the future by claiming a fifth-placed finish in just his fourth round behind the wheel.
Despite starting race two in 17th, Stoner managed an 11th-placed finish in a rain-reduced race of just eight laps to again be among the fastest cars on the circuit.
Race three start positions were then decided on combined race one and two results leaving Stoner in 14th, and the Red Bull driver had his best result of the season by claiming nine positions to bring his Red Bull Pirtek Holden home fifth in another reduced-lap race.
“We took a massive gamble on slicks when most the rest of the field went out on wets and we had we not had that second safety car and a few more laps it could have really paid off,” Stoner said.
“Unfortunately, we had safety car after safety car which really hurt us. We got one lap in between safety cars and then one lap to finish the race. It’s disappointing but every race this weekend we’ve been fast enough to run with the front guys. It would have been nice to have had the chance to race with them had the races been longer. But it’s the best result so far and that’s a positive.”
The next round of the V8 Supercars championship and Dunlop Development Series will be in Winton, Victoria on August 23-25.