Jamie Whincup (Red Bull Racing Australia, Holden) was on the poll for Saturday’s split 60/60-km race of the Winton 360 in Victoria. Michael Caruso, however, qualified his Nissan Norton Hornets machine into P2, a new high for the Altima. Both drivers held their positions through Lap 1, followed by James Moffat (Norton Hornets, Nissan), Mark Winterbottom (Pepsi Max Crew FPR, Ford), and Shane van Gisbergen (Team TEKNO, Holden).
Whincup suffered a mechanical failure on Lap 10, moving Caruso to the point, which he still held at the halftime break.
Moffat took the lead on the restart, with Jason Bright (Team BOC, Holden) taking third from Winterbottom shortly thereafter. Moffat held on for the win, his first and the first for the Nissan Altima. Caruso’s P2 marked the first 1-2 for the make since 1991. Bright, Winterbottom and James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) rounded out the Top 5.
Bright followed his podium by taking the pole for the first race on Sunday (Round 26), with Tony D’Alberto (Team HIFLEX, Holden) lined up next to him. Winterbottom moved to the front at the start, but a wreck further back in the pack (gathering up Whincup and Caruso among others) brought out the safety car for Lap 2.
Winterbottom retained his lead on the restart two laps later and by Lap 14 the Top 5 had Winterbottom out front, followed by Bright, D’Alberto, Courtney, and van Gisbergen. Courtney took third from D’Alberto before the end, joining Winterbottom and Bright on the podium.
Courtney started on pole for the final race of the weekend, with Bright alongside and Chaz Mostert (Wilson Security Racing, Ford) and Scott McLaughlin (Fujitsu Racing GRM, Holden)—both winners at Ipswich the previous event—in Row 2. A chaotic start saw Todd Kelly (Jack Daniel’s Racing, Nissan) hit the infield wall and Scott Pye’s ekol Racing Holden catch on fire.
At the restart Courtney led Mostert, Will Davison (Pepsi Max Crew FPR, Ford), Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team), and Bright. By Lap 21 Courtney had built a 2.78-sec lead over Mostert. The safety car came out one lap later following high-speed contact between Rick Kelly (Jack Daniel’s Racing, Nissan) and Winterbottom. The Top 3 remained the same when the safety car reemerged on Lap 27 when Bright went off-course.
On Lap 33 Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing, Holden) took third from Davison, before running down Mostert for second on the final lap. Mostert held off Tander to remain on the podium.
The strong showing by the Fords on the weekend, combined with Craig Lowndes’ (Red Bull Racing Australia, Holden) poor finishes, saw Davison and Winterbottom leapfrog Whincup’s teammate into second and third in the season standings.
Jamie Whincup (Red Bull Racing Australia), Holden – 1847
Will Davison (Pepsi Max Crew FPR), Ford – 1792
Mark Winterbottom (Pepsi Max Crew FPR), Ford – 1777
Craig Lowndes (Red Bull Racing Australis), Holden - 1775
Red Bull Racing Australia – 3662
Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford – 3594
Brad Jones Racing – 3403
Holden Racing Team – 3304