Let’s be short & sweet. Races two and three were almost identical to race one.
The track itself almost guarantees that, driver error and pitlane stuff-ups not withstanding, whoever starts on pole, finishes up front. So it was today. The three championship contenders – Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom – started each race in that order, and finished in that order. Race three saw Garry Rodgers Motorsport’s Lee Holdsworth sit in a very comfortable second spot shortly after the start of race three, but he over-cooked a braking lunge on Whincup going into turn eight and wound up finishing the day in 17th spot for his troubles. Such a pity, because the kid has promise. He lacks the judgement and experience, but I’m sure he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2009.
Tander’s Commodore simply didn’t have the grunt to make a successful pass on Whincup, just as Winterbottom’s FPR Falcon didn’t have similar grunt to jump on Tander. The similarities between all three runners was graphically demonstrated in race three, as lap after lap, they chased each other with less than 0.5 seconds between them.
Stone Brothers didn’t have a very happy weekend, with James Courtney retiring due to a damaged engine and Shane Van Gisbergen generating a safety car period when he broke his Falcon’s front suspension on the concrete wall at turn four. Dick Johnson Racing, in contrast, had a successful weekend, with both Falcons coming home inside the top ten. It’s the driver line-up in 2009 with DJR that has the rumour mill churning. Both Steven Johnson and Will Davison are known to be considering their futures outside the team, with most punters reckoning on Mark Skaife’s seat at HRT for Davison. That would make the 2009 season definitely worth watching, as Davison has a tonne of ability yearning for top quality machinery to show it off in.
So, that’s Surfers Paradise over with. Good close racing, but restricted to the top three cars thanks to track and television coverage. Not a track conducive to really open racing, but exciting in a limited manner, none the less. All the murmurs say that V8 Supercars may well be on their own at the Gold Coast round next year, as the Indy Racing League looks to consolidate it’s rejuvenated series at home in the States. Taking a highly technological, infrastructure intensive series off shore costs tens of millions of dollars. Dollars probably better spent at home, especially in these harder fiscal times.
Amusingly, VESCA still entertains the off-shore jaunts, at enormous costs, no doubt. The next round sees the circus heading half-way around the globe to Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, for the Gulf Air Desert 400 in a fortnight’s time, November 6-8. Personally, I find going that far to race on a track which completely lacks character of any kind, in front of empty grand stands hardly anything for the sport’s administrators to spruik about. The lack of time between rounds at this time of year must place tremendous burdens on teams, with 14 days between every round between ten and fourteen. That’s ludicrous and completely un-necessary if the lack-lustre Bahrain round were to be dropped. I’m sure the team owners, members and drivers wouldn’t miss it, or the stress attached to it.