JAMIE Whincup moved closer to retaining his V8 Supercars championship with a pair of runaway wins at Yas Marina formula one track here overnight.
As the F1 teams prepared for final practice and qualifying for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Whincup streeted both 12-lap, 65-kilometre sprints under a blazing desert sun.
The victories, which bring his total for the season to 10, extended the Holden hot shot's lead in the championship standings to 270 points over Ford's Mark Winterbottom with just five races to go.
Whincup also added to his domination at V8 racing's most far-flung event, having now won five of the six races contested at no-expense-spared Abu Dhabi circuit since 2010.
Despite being beaten to pole position for all three of the weekend's dashes by Ford's Will Davison, Whincup quickly hit the front on the first lap of both races on Saturday and was never challenged in either in his Triple Eight Commodore.
Davison was second both times in his Ford Performance Racing Falcon, with New Zealand young gun Shane van Gisbergen scoring a pair of thirds in his Stone Bros Racing Falcon.
Despite predictions that the extremely short races on the big, wide 5.5-kilometre track would produce plenty of action, both were relatively tame affairs with little contact, minimal damage and hardly any overtaking.
The switch from the standard hard compound tyres to the faster, but less durable, soft rubber for the second race made no discernible difference, either. The V8s performed late in the morning in front of almost empty grandstands, which didn't start to fill until at least an hour after they'd finished as spectators arrived for the start of the afternoon-early evening's F1 action.
Although the V8s raced under lights here in 2010-11, they've been relegated to early daylight action as the F1s compete through twilight into early darkness.
The Yas Marina circuit is an architectural wonder built on a man-made resort island using reclaimed marshland. Although some distance from the desert, the mercury still soared to 35 degrees during the V8 races, subjecting the drivers to in-car temperatures of nearly 50 degrees.
With just five races to go — including one more here on Sunday — Whincup is going to be hard to beat for the title, which would be his fourth in five years.
Winterbottom battled to sixth and fourth places respectively after qualifying poorly in his FPR Falcon, adding almost 60 points to his deficit to Whincup.
Whincup's Triple Eight teammate Craig Lowndes also lost ground, slipping to 337 points off the lead after also struggling in qualifying.
Lowndes was eighth in the first race and, after coming off second best in a multi-car squabble, could manage only 11th in the second.
Davison is fourth in the standings, but he is 573 points behind Whincup and out of title contention.
To make a fight of it to the finish, Winterbottom and Lowndes will have to find a lot extra at Winton Motor Raceway, near Benalla, in two weeks and also the season-ending Sydney 500 at the Olympic Park street circuit on December 1-2.
They will also have to hope that Whincup falters over the final stretch, which seems unlikely on recent evidence.
His ability to recover from setbacks this year has been unsurpassed, giving his fading challengers little prospect of overhauling him even if they hit a hot streak.
Whincup, although never satisfied with anything less than winning, will be able to secure the championship by finishing in the top five from now on.