Triple Eight’s triple treat on the podium

The West Australian - - SPORT -

Red Bull Holden Rac­ing duo Jamie Whin­cup and Paul Dum­brell romped to vic­tory in the Sandown 500 yes­ter­day, cashing in on their su­pe­rior pace to lead home a Triple Eight Rac­ing podium.

Shane van Gis­ber­gen and co-driver Earl Bam­ber, on his Su­per­cars de­but for Red Bull’s other com­bi­na­tion, im­proved to sec­ond and boosted the se­ries leader’s cham­pi­onship hopes.

Vet­er­ans Craig Lown­des and Steven Richards (Au­to­barn Lown­des Rac­ing) rounded out Triple Eight’s first 1-2-3 since a sprint race win at Queens­land Race­way two years ago. In a dull start to the En­duro Cup, car No.1 cruised to a suc­cess that looked likely from Fri­day’s first prac­tice ses­sion.

Dum­brell trashed Whin­cup’s long-run­ning lap record on his first spin around the Mel­bourne cir­cuit, show­ing the awe­some pace of their ZB Com­modore.

Whin­cup took his own record back in qual­i­fy­ing, when only an overly cau­tious de­ci­sion to put on wet tyres cost them pole po­si­tion.

That didn’t mat­ter yes­ter­day, when Dum­brell jumped pole­sit­ter David Reynolds’ co-driver Luke Youlden from the line.

The pair were never headed for ef­fec­tive con­trol, claim­ing a third Sandown vic­tory by al­most seven sec­onds.

“I couldn’t be hap­pier, the car’s been awe­some all week­end,” Whin­cup said.

Whin­cup’s win was his fourth in the Sandown 500 — he won with Lown­des in 2007 — while van Gis­ber­gen’s race-day resur­gence headed off a hit to his ti­tle hopes. The Kiwi was off the pace at the home of horse­power un­til yes­ter­day, when Bam­ber im­proved from his 11th-placed start and van Gis­ber­gen did the rest.

“What a priv­i­lege to drive these cars with the Red Bull Holden Rac­ing Team,” van Gis­ber­gen said. “They gave us some rock­ets to­day.”

His chief ri­val for the ti­tle, coun­try­man Scott McLaugh­lin, fin­ished fourth.

Van Gis­ber­gen’s lead is 55 points with four rounds left.

Storm clouds that pro­vided drama on Satur­day cleared, and even the no­to­ri­ous turn six — pos­si­bly Aus­tralia’s most dan­ger­ous Su­per­cars cor­ner — didn’t cause any se­ri­ous is­sue.

Early safety cars be­cause of bun­gles by Dean Fiore and Ja­son Bright made no dif­fer­ence to the out­come. McLaugh­lin and the rest of the field were never in the con­test, as the Red Bull team tuned up for Bathurst.

Pic­ture: Daniel Kal­isz/Getty Im­ages

Race win­ners Paul Dum­brell, left, and Jamie Whin­cup re­joice af­ter their Su­per­cars vic­tory at Sandown yes­ter­day.

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