Sunday, 21 October 2012

2012 Armor All Gold Coast 600 Review

'The Gold Coast's biggest party' returned for 2012 with another strong list of international participants taking part in the two 300KM (approx) V8 Supercars races this weekend. 28 leading drivers from across the world like Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Bourdais, Darren Turner, Marc Andretti and others paired up with V8 Supercars regulars for 2 days of spectacular action on the legendary Surfers Paradise street circuit.

Despite the presence of international drivers, for the regulars, the races still counted towards the championship, making it an important weekend for Jamie Whincup who went into the event leading his team mate in the championship by a slender 161 points. This also piled extra pressure on Sebastien Bourdais who shared Whincup's Holden this weekend.

Race 1

Ricky Taylor's Holden ended up on it's roof
Saturday afternoon saw the first race with Bourdais starting on pole in the #1 TeamVodafone Holden Commodore after Whincup set the fastest time in the top 10 qualifying shootout.

From the off there was drama with Indy Car star James Hinchcliffe getting away slowly. Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi drove into him, and was then subsequently hit by Simon Pagenaud. Ricky Taylor followed before going into a violent roll with the car coming to a rest on it's roof.

The mayhem at the start meant that there was a red flag and a 30 minutes delay.
Once the race got restarted, Frenchamn Nicolas Minassian stalled, then what appeared to be a mirror image of the start ensued. Fellow French star Franck Montagny hit the back of Minassian, spinning, losing a wheel and causing another red flag.

With a quarter of the field wiped out and the race reduced for 102 laps to 79 due to time constraints, it was to be third time lucky for the race start.

The #1 car was in a league of it's own
Mika Salo, one of 11 ex-Formula One drivers taking part passed 4 time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais at the start, the Finn, driving for Ford Performance racing led the field into turn one whilst Bourdais fell further down the field as Graham Rahal overtook him for second.

The comparitively calm restart did not mean an end to the drama, with Gianni Morbidelli and Peter Kox both hitting walls, the latter collecting American Indy Car racer Marco Andretti.

On lap 25, Sebastien Bourdais reclaimed the lead from Mika Salo before the Finn snatched back first place seconds later.

Turner and Courtney had a tough afternoon
With the mid race driver changes taking place, Jamie Whincup took the lead from the Ford Falcon of Mika Salo and Will Davidson after he took over the TeamVodafone #1 car from Bourdais. Davidson was to later take FPR out of contention by hitting the wall  at turn 11 on lap 49. Limping back to the pits with broken steering, Davidson's pitstop managed to delay the driver change between Will Power and Mark Winterbottom in the other FPR car, much to Winterbottom's displeasure. He went back out though,m driving aggressively and pushing hard. As a result, 'Sparky' managed to rescua a third place finish whilst Jamie Whincup extended his championship lead, powering to victory in the #1 TeamVodafone Holden Commodore. His 60th career win. Marc Lieb and Jonathon Webb stayed quiet amidst the carnage to secure second place in their Tenko Autosports Holden.

Whincup and Bourdais were faultless
It was a mixed race for Toll Holden Racing Team with the #2 car of Garth Tander and Ryan Briscoe utilising a clever strategy to charge from 24th to finish fourth. the other HRT Commodore of James Courtney and Darren Turner faird less well, finishing seventh with rear end problems despite running in second place beforehand.

3 cars were to miss the second race  the next day after the start line mayhem of Saturday's race. The #3 Tony D'Alberto Racing Ford Falcon of Tony D'Alberto and Vitantonio Liuzzi, and the #11 and #33 Holden Commodores of Karl Reindler and Franck Montagny, and Greg Ritter and Ricky Taylor respectively were too damaged to be able to make the start of Sunday's race.

Race 2

The start of race two on Sunday afternoon proved to be slightly less dramatic than Saturday, but not completely plain sailing.

Sebastien Bourdais again started on pole after Jamie Whincup continued his impressive Gold Coast qualifying form, again topping the charts in the earlier qualifying session.

The race looked set to start in the same vain as race one after Peter Kox stalled on the grid. A crash was ultimately avoided and the race got underway after a short safety car period with Bourdais leading and Marc Lieb passing Indy Car's Will Power for second.

Salo was impressive throughout the weekend
Several of the international drivers had brushes with the wall with Nick Heidfeld, Gianni Morbidelli (after being hit by Mika Salo) and Stephane Sarrazin all having brushes with the barriers. James Hinchcliffe pulled off and impressive save, sliding to avoid Sarrazin.

On lap 36, a pitstop for the #34 Fujitsu Racing Holden saw the car drive off with it's right rear tyre missing from the car. Mark Winterbottom was caught up in the incident leading to further frustration for Ford Performance Racing's star driver after he was caught up in a pitlane incident in race One as well.

It seemed certain to be another win for TeamVodafone's #1 car as Sebastien Bourdais continued to lead on lap 33. The lead was to go away as Jamie Whincup took over the car on lap 37.

The other TeamVodafone Holden Commodore of Richard Lyons and Craig Lowndes had to deal with clutch problems, but it continued in the race with Lowndes fighting behind the wheel.

Salo and Davidson were victorious in race 2
Tim Slade set the pace late on before Will Davidson passed him for the lead on lap 80. Slade was to concede another position a lap later when Jamie Whincup took second with a brave, late move in almost exactly the same place that Davidson had taken the lead a lap earlier.

A late safety car led to a ten lap sprint to the checkered flag. Will Davidson held on to take the win for FPR, redeeming himslef for hitting the wall and taking his team out of contention in Saturday's race. Jamie Whincup secured second with Will Davidson's teammate Mark Winterbottom fighting through to take third, Will Davidson and Mika Salo's win in the #6 FPR Ford brought and end to Holden and TeamVodafone;s 11 race winning streak.

Bourdais again secured the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy
TeamVodafone's Sebastien Bourdais secured the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy for the second year running after being the highest performing international guest driver throughout the weekend.

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