To coincide with the start of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup, v8supercars.com.au launches a new segment – MVDs, Most Valuable Drivers, which will recognise who we think rose to the occasion over the race weekend.
Yesterday's Wilson Security Sandown 500 saw a dominant victory by Red Bull Racing Australia, once again taking the top two steps on the podium.And that's why two of the team's drivers are our MVDs for the weekend.
Jamie Whincup - Red Bull Racing Australia, Holden Commodore #1, p1
In the post-race press conference, Whincup spoke of the pit stop that could have ruined their chances. A late call on a driver change inevitably led to a pit lane drive through penalty due to the car’s spinning wheels in pit lane. He said this time, it was the drivers who got the engineers out of trouble.
"I don't know how much information you got from the race but it certainly wasn't Paul (Dumbrell's) fault with the drive through penalty," Whincup said. "It was an extremely late call, generally the engineers are getting the driver out of mischief but I would like to think we have credit back, minus 150.
"The engineers made a late call, it made it difficult for us and we got them out of trouble."
Whincup showed impressive speed after rejoining the field in 25th and overcame the field's Sandown master Craig Lowndes, who, if he was victorious, would have equaled Peter Brock's record for the most wins at a '500' pre-Bathurst enduro.
Behind the wheel of car #1, Whincup was consistently faster than the rest of the field, the only driver to record a lap in the '09's' with a 1min09.9061 on lap 81 and was the fastest in each of the three sectors.
Crossing the line, the gap to Lowndes in second was over eight seconds.
He showed just how capable he - and the Champion team, which celebrated 10 years in V8 Supercars on the weekend - was at bouncing back, and cemented his Championship points lead.
He now leads the Championship race by 96 points from Lowndes and the PIRTEK Enduro Cup chase by 24 with Dumbrell.
Lee Holdsworth - IRWIN Tools Racing, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG #4, p4
Overcoming an unfortunate run of recent poor results, Holdsworth sailed home to secure the best ever finish for a new generation Mercedes in the V8 Supercars Championship. He and co-driver Craig Baird made up an impressive 15 positions over the course of the 161-lap race.
"This has been so rewarding after where we were at Winton," Holdsworth said. "We were really close to the podium, it was rewarding for all of us, the Erebus Motorsport team and all the sponsors for believing in what we could achieve."
Erebus Motorsport CEO Ryan Maddison was thrilled with the result, telling v8supercars.com.au how tense it was in the garage in the dying stages of the race. Will Davison's FPR Ford, ahead in third, was leaking fluid and the privateer team was holding on to see whether the Falcon was able to finish the race, or be caught.
"It was typical V8 fashion, it was really intense all the way to the end," Maddison said. "Craig did a stunning job as well, it was really unfortunate he got turned around (in co-driver qualifying) so really it was stacked against them.
"The guys dug deep, it was a faultless performance this weekend from everyone within the team."
Paul Dumbrell, co-driver - Red Bull Racing Australia, Holden Commodore #1, p1
While he had won at the circuit before, Dumbrell had not won a Sandown 500 until yesterday.
Coming into the event there were questions around whether Dumbrell would be 'match fi' as a driver not competing in another motor racing category this season.
But Dumbrell delivered a solid - and quick - performance out front, on both days. He placed the Red Bull Commodore to Whincup on 'pole' for the main drivers qualifying race on Saturday, and led the field from race start on Sunday. While Dumbrell made some small errors towards the end of his stint, and joked after the race he needed some work, he showed the field exactly what a co-driver's job is - to deliver a straight car to the main driver, in shape.
"On Friday when we rolled out of the truck we said we had a bit of work to do," Dumbrell said post-race. "But the car was great and epitomised what the team is all about."
Others to note from the weekend include Steve Johnson, who made up 10 positions in the co-driver qualifying race on Saturday in the SP Tools Mercedes; and Todd Kelly, reminding us why he's still in the main game after muscling a number of battling cars in the main drivers' qualifying race, and with David Russell steering the first Nissan home for 11th.