Yas V8 400 Abu Dhabi Recap
The V8 Supercar Championship's season-opening Yas V8 400 delivered a great spectacle, as TeamVodafone driver Jamie Whincup and Toll Holden Racing Team's James Courtney claimed one race win apiece.
Whincup's victory in the first race clearly lad out his intentions after seeing his domination of the V8 Supercar series ended by Courtney in 2010.
The TeamVodafone pairing of Whincup and Craig Lowndes began the first race alongside each other on the front row of the grid, but when Whincup seized the early opportunity to streak ahead, Lowndes fell back.
Young gun Alex Davison, in the Irwin Racing Ford Falcon, was left with the task of laying a challenge to Whincup at the head of the field.
Whincup fended off the challenge and proceeded to take victory by some 13 seconds ahead of Davison, who came out on top of the battle with Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom.
Reigning champion Courtney endured a Holden debut to forget after his race was compromised through contact with Jason Bargwanna, which caused damage to his steering. The resulting pit stop left him trailing, and by the flag he was last in the race classification, a lowly 26th.
The second race in the United Arab Emirates gave fans, commentators and teams cause to sit quite literally on the edge of the seats.
Fuel strategy played an integral part to what can only be described as a classic race of all time.
Whincup and Lowndes once again locked out the front row in qualifying, but neither would feature in one of the best climaxes and one that no one could have predicted.
An early safety car was called after Tony D'Alberto shunted Garth Tander and Tim Slade out of the race, and when some teams elected to refuel at this point, the fuel strategy battle fell firmly into place.
This came to a head in the last handful of laps, with Courtney at the head of the field, and all calculations pointing to a shortfall in his fuel compared to that of the chasing Jason Bright.
Bright was looking to give Brad Jones Racing there first ever victory in the series, and as Bright closed in on Courtney, battle ensued.
With a race win on the line, both drivers battled hard, and they exchanged places on numerous occasions in the closing three laps, and at the same time gave a demonstration of some of the finest, clean, respectful and most enthralling racing that modern day racing has to offer.
Knowing that there could only be one victor, Courtney made the decisive move and held on to cross the line first with Bright second.
Whincup trailed the duo in third, but his double podium weekend saw him leave the Middle East at the head of the points standings.
The V8 Supercar Championship heads back to Australian soil for the second round of the 2011 series, with the carnival atmosphere of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide running from the 17th to the 20th March.
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