The day Jamie Whincup secured the championship.
A day with the requisite dramas for FPR and HRT, and effectively the end of a season where few teams outside of Team Vodafone received any satisfaction from the 2008 season.
A classic faux pas for FPR during the compulsory pitstops with Mark Winterbottom being released into Mark Skaife’s #2 Commodore right alongside put paid to race 1 for both teams and drivers. Apparently the laps came about as a result of radio failure in the car controller’s headset for FPR, but technical difficulties aside, the damage, the championship, is done for FPR.
Garth Tander held Pole, but managed to surrender that position and potential leading position at least until the CPS, by jumping the start. It was definitely an ‘only just’ moment, but according to the rules, that’s all it takes. Thou shalt not be moving as the lights go out, and one shalt not be across the white line which defines the cars position at rest. Tander was moving as the lights went out. That’s enough to cop ten seconds, and he did. Surely the crowning disappointment for Tander and a marker of his season’s fortunes.
Russell Ingall performed well in race 1, starting from third position, but falling to nineth as tyres degraded. Everyone suffered with the rubber. Oran Park isn’t being maintained anymore, at least not to the standard of five or six years ago. The surface is cracked & the verges starting to break up, causing many teams to warn their drivers off using the extremities of the track for lines out of corners. Within 12 months, Oran Park will close forever, to become a part of a larger subdivisional development where thousands of cheek-by-jowl ticky-tacky boxes will exist where mighty V8’s once roared.
Despite the loss of a potential 300 points at Hamilton, in round 3, Jamie Whincup has gone on to a higher level as the championship has progressed. Counting today’s win, he’s now taken 10 out of the last eleven starts as race wins. Thus far, he’s won 16 out of 36 races for the season and that’s including a Did Not Start in round 3. Surely a blessed performance, considering the ‘bad luck’ others have suffered throughout 2008. Obviously, Triple Eight Racing/Team Vodafone have delivered the goods in terms of machinery, pitstop efficiency and sheer professionalism, which all comes together with the driver’s ability and discipline to make a winning package.
Tomorrow’s two races, in terms of the championship, are non-events, but we can be assured that some among the circus will be determined to go out of season 2008 on a high note, not the least of which will be Team Vodafone. HRT have much to recover, DJR’s Will Davison has something to say by way of thanks to the team he’s departing. Mark Skaife would love to say farewell to Oran Park and full time V8 racing in a big way. Paul Morris is stepping aside in 2009, so that Daddy’s company and Supercheap Auto get a real shot at putting Russell Ingall up front, so look for ‘The Dude’ (who in their right mind fosters such a pseudonym?) to put in a big show. Paul Dumbrell is leaving the circus after tomorrow, at his own behest, and we’re yet to hear about Steven Johnson’s future with DJR. All in all, even though the championship is now decided, I still believe tomorrow’s two events will deliver something special.