JAMIE WHINCUP/No.1 TeamVodafone Holden Commodore VE won the Armor All Gold Coast 600 V8 Series race in a photo finish on the street circuit of Surfers Paradise, but not for the lack of trying on the part of SHANE van GISBERGEN/No.9 SP Tools Ford Falcon FG. As the laps wound down, van Gisbergen raced closer, looser, harder, and actually led for part of one of the last laps. It looked like some good old NASCAR rubbin’-is-racing and bump drafting as VG tried every which way but loose to get past Whincup. And behind him was MARK WINTERBOTTOM/No.5 Orrin Steel FPR Ford, also part of the mix. It was the only excitement in the last third of the race, which had pretty much become a parade.
But the Holden held off two factory-supported Fords. Afterwards Whincup said “It was good track etiquette that made it so exciting for everyone. The door handle to door handle racing was extremely rewarding and we’re savoring the moment.” Van Gisbergen said “At the end it was definitely on. It was a great fight and I’m pretty happy to crack second. I knew Jamie’s tires were going away and he was having brake problems because I had a pretty good view of it.”
ANDY PRIAULX/No.888 TeamVodafone Holden was awarded a trophy for being the highest placing Guest International driver based on the weekend’s total performance. PATRICK LONG/No.34 Fujitsu Racing/GRM Holden was second.
Second through fifth overall were Van Gisbergen (JOHN McINTYRE), Winterbottom (co-driver LUKE YOULDEN), JAMES COURTNEY/No.18 Jim Beam Racing Ford (co-driver WARREN LUFF), and PAUL DUMBRELL/No.55 The Bottle-O Ford – the top finishing car with an International driver – JACQUES VILLENEUVE of Canada.
It was a race of attrition. Crashes and mechanical failures retired nine cars, mostly early on. HELIO CASTRONEVES crashed the No.47 Wilson Security Racing Team Ford, but made it back to the garage where the team worked out the kinks. His teammate, TIM SLADE, continued the race, finishing nineteenth overall, seven laps down. Castroneves, of Brazil, was unhurt, but he was the center of a several car mess. He was hit by STEVE JOHNSON/No.17 Jim Beam Racing Ford (co-driver DARIO FRANCHITTI of Scotland), and then others piled on. Johnson retired.
SCOTT PRUETT/No.30 Gulf Western Oil Racing Holden started last and raced to eighth place by Lap 28. However, someone’s suspension hit his wind screen on the first lap, breaking it. Slivers went everywhere including into Pruett’s eyes. He would have continued on despite the glass in his eyes; but something broke in the front of the car, so he pitted. Once the crew saw all the broken glass, they decided it was too dangerous to continue. Pruett had his eye flushed but had a scratched cornea.
SCOTT DIXON/No.7 Jack Daniels Racing Holden hit ANDREW JONES/No.8 Team BOC Holden and both lost their wheels; DAVID BRABHAM/No.4 Irwin Racing Ford walled it, as did MIKA SALO/No.10 Bundaberg Red Racing Team Holden. ALAIN MENU/No.14 Trading Post Holden blew the clutch at the start.
Despite his race lap record of 1:13.1879, CRAIG LOWNDES/No.888 TeamVodafone Holden fell back to finish eleventh. His International co-driver was Priaulx of the UK.
Saturday’s race winner, GARTH TANDER/No.2 Toll Holden Racing Team Holden drove head-on into a concrete wall and ended his day. He was unhurt. CAMERON McCONVILLE was his teammate.
The Sunday attendance was down a bit from Saturday – 58,977, but the total overall exceeded the prediction made by TONY COCHRANE, Chairman V8 Supercar Series. He’d predicted Wednesday 135,000 – 150,000. After the race, he was very pleased with the whole weekend and attendance. PHIL REEVES, Queensland Sports Minister thought that the Gold Coast got great publicity on the television broadcast, which was seen around the world.
The crowds looked good on TV, as did the many lovingly visualized overhead views of the beaches and downtown/high rises…especially the beaches, of which there are 35 miles or so on the Gold Coast. Just the kind of visuals the Queensland Tourism Government officials liked.
After the race, several of the International drivers had nothing but enthusiastic comments on the event. I asked them if they would come back. Castroneves said “YES ! It’s like Dancing With The Stars – so much fun. I gotta do it!” Dixon said “YES! Definitely! I’ll be back.” WILL POWER/No.6 Dunlop Super Dealer FPR Ford agreed – “YES!” Long said “Yes, for sure. It’s a very interesting concept which I hope catches on.”
The podium finishers all felt the concept worked pretty well. Winterbottom said “If I was a fan I would have been pretty happy for my moneys worth. Whincup seconded that. “They (the International Guest drivers) actually drive quite well. They’re all pretty clean.”
POS No. DRIVERS Car Laps
1 1 J.Whincup/S.Owen Holden 102
2 9 S.Van Gisbergen/J.McIntyre Ford 102
3 5 M.Winterbottom/L.Youlde Ford 102
4 18 J.Courtney/W.Luff Ford 102
5 55 P.Dumbrell/J.Villeneuve Ford 102
6 15 R.Kelly/O.Kelly Holden 102
7 22 W.Davison/R.Briscoe Holden 102
8 39 R.Ingall/J.Perkins Holden 102
9 33 L.Holdsworth/G.Ritter Holden 102
10 888 C.Lowndes/A.Priaulx Holden 102
11 34 M.Caruso/P.Long Holden 102
12 24 F.Coulthard/D.Reynolds Holden 102
13 6 S.Richards/W.Power Ford 102
14 12 D.Fiore/G.Morbidelli Ford 102
15 51 G.Murphy/Y.Muller Holden 102
16 19 J.Webb/S.Bourdais Ford 102
17 3 T.D’Alberto/T.Monteiro Holden 102
18 16 T.Ricciardello/D.Wood Holden 101
19 47 T.Slade/H.Castroneves Ford 96
20 11 J.Bargwanna/A.Tagliani Holden 92
DNF 2 G.Tander/C.McConville Holden 57
DNF 17 S.Johnson/D.Franchitti Ford 38
DNF 21 K.Reindler/F.Giovanardi Holden 37
DNF 8 Andrew Jones Holden 34
DNF 7 Scott Dixon Holden 34
DNF 30 Scott Pruett Holden 28
DNF 10 Mika Salo Holden 12
DNF 4 David Brabham Ford 3
DNF 14 Alain Menu Holden