ABU DHABI // The UAE capital rounded off its maiden V8 Supercars outing in boisterous fashion last night as Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup lived up to his Friday promise to make the most of his blistering form by clinching a second victory in as many nights. Amid the breakneck speed and bumper-to-bumper action at the Yas Marina Circuit, the Australian series' double reigning champion got his 36th career win to make the perfect start to his title defence.
"We made a change overnight and the car was much better today - it was bulletproof," said Whincup. "I can't believe I've won two back to back here, these victories mean a lot to me. "I certainly didn't expect this kind of start, but I'll take it." Having started second on the grid, Whincup had passed pole sitter Mark Winterbottom by the first corner. And with the majority of the 28-strong field electing to pit around laps 11-13, Whincup drove through the twilight stage of the race looking to build up a suitable pit-stop cushion.
Several lightning quick laps looked to have done the trick, but a lengthy lap 17 stop saw Whincup emerge behind the 2007 champion Garth Tander as he exited the pit-lane tunnel. Tander's lead proved to be nothing more a brief mid-race interlude, a loose wheelnut effectively ending his victory push when it forced him to pit again on lap 20. That left Winterbottom as the chief pursuer, but, as has been the case for the last two seasons, Whincup was untouchable.