Red rocket … Jamie Whincup enjoyed a clean sweep of victories in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
ABU DHABI: Holden hero Jamie Whincup is within sight of his fourth V8 Supercars championship after completing a clean sweep at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
Whincup, the defending V8 champion, made it three out of three at the Yas Marina formula one circuit over the weekend with another runaway in the third 12-lap, 65-kilometre sprint, again finishing with a comfortable margin over Ford's Will Davison.
South Australian young gun Tim Slade was third, his best result of the season, ahead of his Stone Bros Racing Ford teammate Shane van Gisbergen.
Mark Winterbottom muscled his way through to fifth after starting seventh in his Ford Performance Racing Falcon to keep his slim championship hopes alive until at least the next event at Winton, near Benalla, in 12 days.
Whincup's three wins over the weekend extended his lead in the standings over Winterbottom to 296 points, which means he has almost the equivalent of a full events points in hand.
The maximum points on offer at each V8 event is 300; the two races at Winton are worth 150 each.
Whincup's Triple Eight Holden teammate Craig Lowndes is still third in the championship and mathematically still in contention, but he lost ground on Sunday by finishing just 11th and is now 389 points off the lead with four races at two venues to go.
Unlike Saturday's two races, which were watched by just handfuls of people in the 5.5km F1 track's towering grandstands, there were a few thousand for the final V8 race, the only on-track entertainment before the F1 Abu Dhabi GP three hours later.
With almost no action at the front of the field, the most dramatic moment was a three-car crash on the third lap that resulted in Karl Reindler's Kelly Racing Commodore briefly erupting into flames.
In a chain reaction, Jason Bright was spun across the track by a nudge from Jonathon Webb, sending Bright's car sideways across the track in the path of Reindler's machine.
As Reindler ploughed into the right rear of Bright's Holden, he was rear-ended by Dean Fiore's Falcon, which couldn't avoid the melee. Amid flames and smoke, Reindler evacuated quickly and escaped injury.
Whincup's sweep of the weekend lifted his career win tally to 63 - third all-time in Australian touring car championship competition behind Mark Skaife and Lowndes.