Australia’s V8 Supercars championship will go down to the final race of the season in two weeks at Sydney.
This weekend at Phillip Island, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup split victories in the penultimate round of 2013. But with one race to go, Whincup (pictured) holds a 20-point edge over Lowndes. Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Winterbottom (-124 points) and Will Davison (-223 points) are still in contention for the title as well.
In Race 1, Lowndes took the lead from teammate Whincup with six laps to go and went on to win by one second. But in Race 2, Whincup charged from fifth on the starting grid to the point on Lap 2 and then endured multiple safety car periods before hanging on for the victory.
“It’s all going to come down to the last race,” Whincup said of the championship according to the Supercars’ official web site. “I think it’s a good script and it’s going to be a good battle. It’s not just going to be…us out doing it easy, the other guys will all be in for a scrap.
“There’s no margin really, we have all got an opportunity. It is so easy in Sydney to DNF or have a bad run. The three of us have got equal opportunity.”
The final battleground for Whincup, Lowndes, Winterbottom and Davison will be the Sydney 500 from Dec. 6-8 on a 2.2-mile street circuit that winds through Sydney’s Olympic Park.
Whincup, the defending series champion, will be gunning for his fifth Supercar title, Lowndes his fourth, and Winterbottom and Davison each, their first. It bears noting that Lowndes and Davison split wins in last year’s season-finale at Sydney.
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.