12 Feb 2011

Whincup wins in Abu Dhabi

6:53 am on 12 February 2011

Holden driver Jamie Whincup began his hunt to regain the V8 Supercar championship in perfect style with a dominant win in the season opener in Abu Dhabi.

Whincup made it three wins from as many starts at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit, and 12 wins from the past 12 overseas V8 races, leading from the start to finish in Friday night's 200 kilometre race.

Ford driver Alex Davison was second, a distant 13 seconds behind, while Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom had to settle for third after a slow pit stop midway through the 43-lap race.

Whincup, a two-time champion, who lost his crown to James Courtney last year, got the jump at the start when teammate and pole-sitter Craig Lowndes was slow off the line, allowing Davison and Winterbottom to power past.

Lowndes eventually came in seventh, his race never recovering from the poor start.

It was also a horror start to Courtney's title defence in his first race since joining the Holden Racing Team.

Courtney, who could only qualify 20th, was involved in an early incident with Jason Bargwanna that broke a steering arm on his Commodore and battled on to finish 27th.

Teammate Garth Tander recovered from a lowly start to be the sixth car over the line behind young New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen and Ford rising star Tim Slade.

The Yas V8 400 concludes with another 200 kilometre race on Sunday.