When teammates collide
- By Kassie Gadeke
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have raced one another up the front all season, and at the last round in New Zealand the inevitable happened – contact, sending on Red Bull spinning and the other to pit lane for a drive through penalty.
Fans had been waiting for it to happen and for things to explode in the ultra-professional Triple Eight garage, but team boss Roland Dane was quite calm about the clash – with Whincup only hurting himself in the contest, as van Gisbergen drove back up to third.
It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last, they always say.
As the teammates go head-to-head for the Championship at the final round next month, take a look back at some of the most memorable teammate clashes in recent years in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
2014 – Jamie Whincup vs Craig Lowndes, Tasmania
Fighting for the race lead, Whincup had a good opportunity to pass Lowndes but made contact, leaving the #888 off the road but able to race back up to eighth.
It was deemed a racing incident and Whincup apologised for affecting his teammate, but said: “I’m not sorry about the move – it was a textbook move, I was well and truly in there … I feel like I did nothing wrong.”
Lowndes was the championship leader at the time, though Whincup won the race.
“When you’ve got two top drivers in the team together, eventually you’re going to have some kind of collision or contact,” Lowndes said.
“Roland’s not happy, the team’s not happy, the boys are despondent about it all because we had an opportunity to have a one-two, which is what we’re here for.”
2015 – James Courtney vs Garth Tander, Winton
Off the start, Courtney tangled with Tander and Walkinshaw stablemate Lee Holdsworth, after they all qualified back in the pack.
Courtney was handed a drive through penalty to finish 23rd, while Tander was clearly unimpressed, unable to finish.
Team boss Adrian Burgess didn’t mince his words: “There’s no point beating around the bush – stupid mistake by James, he’s taken out GT and basically wrecked both our races at the same time. Not very happy.”
2015 – James Courtney vs Garth Tander V2, Darwin
After the Winton tension, it happened again – Courtney hit his teammate again after a chaotic restart, with Shane van Gisbergen tucked up the inside of his HRT Commodore at turn one.
Tander was disappointed to be tangled in someone else’s accident. “It’s happened a bit lately,” he said. “Nothing you can do now.”
Post-event he said their relationship was “not quite as rosy” after the incidents, though Courtney insisted it was all good.
2014 – Dale Wood vs Fabian Coulthard, Winton
Wood was on a fast qualifying lap and made contact with Brad Jones Racing stablemate Coulthard in a session that ended with words in the garage.
Coulthard believed he was in the right as Wood didn't have his headlights on, a 'gentleman's agreement' to communicate to other you are on a fast lap. He wanted an apology, but Wood said: “I’m not sure that’s coming, I’m after an apology as well for some things that were said, so we might both be waiting a fair while I’d say.”
2013 – Mark Winterbottom vs David Reynolds, Darwin
Pushing for second place with pressure from van Gisbergen behind, Winterbottom had a lunge on stablemate David Reynolds, knocking Reynolds out of contention and earning a quick drive through penalty.
Team boss Tim Edwards was already fuming with Triple Eight having filled eventual winner Jamie Whincup’s ice box on the grid during the tedious ‘half-time break’ under the old format – and then there was the contact. He slammed the stewards for giving Winterbottom a penalty when it had already cost the team.
Both drivers contained themselves post-race though, and Reynolds said earlier this year: “At the start of our relationship Mark (Winterbottom) and I didn’t have a lot of respect but now there’s tons.”
2007 – Garth Tander and Rick Kelly, Bahrain
It was the third last event of the year and Tander had just snatched the championship lead from Jamie Whincup after the opening race, to then table with teammate Rick Kelly in the second race at the international round.
"Both of us were being a bit aggressive and it cost us," Kelly said.
A frustrated Tander was matter-of-fact about the contact. Fortunately for him, Whincup also had a tough round.
"I didn't know Rick was so far up on the inside," the eventual 2007 champ said.
"There was only a small bit of contact but, with very little grip here, it was just enough to turn the car around. Rick and I have raced together for several years without swapping paint so it's unfortunate that it's cost us points."
2004 – Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall, Darwin
The Stone Brothers Racing teammates had what Ingall described as “typical” of turn one at Darwin back in 2004.
"It was unfortunate because it hurt what could be been a great weekend, but accidents happen,” Ingall said at the time.
"Marcos came straight to me after the race and apologised. Accidents happen and you need to take it on the chin."
Ambrose admitted his mistake and was glad his teammate could recover.
"I stuffed up on the opening lap of the second race and at the end of the day it was my mistake. I'm just glad for Russell that he finished on the podium.
"I have obviously spoken to Russell about it and he is holding nothing against me, which is nice.”
2014 – Dale Wood vs Andrew Jones, Bathurst
Brad Jones Racing had qualified well for the Mount Panorama classic, but it was trouble early when Dale Wood ran up the back of the Team BOC Commodore, being steered by co-driver Andrew Jones. The race was under safety car but Wood was caught by slowing cars ahead. His car caught on fire after the impact while the #8 was significantly damaged.
“I feel like I’m in a nightmare — I hope someone wakes me up some time soon,” team boss Brad Jones said, with the third entry of Fabian Coulthard/Luke Youlden having caused the first safety car of the day, after running off and getting stuck at The Chase.