Whincup sorry

THE only drivers who appear capable of breaking Red Bull Racing's Symmons Plains domination are Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes themselves.

Having stormed through practice and qualifying, the duo seemed certain to carry on the theme in both of yesterday's 100-kilometre V8 Supercar races, before twice shooting themselves in the foot.

After an unfortunate coming together and some wayward tape contrived to ruin Lowndes' day, it was more a case of Red Bull clipping wings than giving them.

Reigning champion Whincup emerged unscathed to claim both race wins and leap from seventh to third in the championship, but spent the day apologising to his long-time race partner for the clash that  sent him off the track and out of contention.

``It was a very up and down day,'' said Whincup, winner of 10 races at Symmons in the last eight years. 

``Lowndesy and I have been racing hard for eight years and we've never made contact before so it was an ordinary situation for the team.

``I went for the pass and thought I had the line but it ended up with Craig off the track so I apologise for that. I'm lucky he's a good bloke and he might let me off but I think I owe him one.

``I am sad about the situation and Lowndesy deserved to finish higher. I don't feel sorry about the move though, it was a fair pass. I haven't done anything wrong but it is disappointing the team didn't get the 1-2 they deserve.''

Immediately after race one, the pair headed straight for the team truck and the matter was resolved. Stewards subsequently came to a similar conclusion, deeming the manoeuvre was nothing more than ``robust overtaking''.

Championship leader Lowndes, who later produced a freakish drive and overtook 20 rivals to finish fifth in race two after being relegated to the back for a technical infringement on his Commodore, appeared to have forgiven, if not completely forgotten.

``Jamie and I have had so many good battles over all the years we've raced together, but we've never had something like this,'' he said. 

``Normally the situation would be clarified as a racing incident but because we're teammates, of course it's under the microscope a little more. 

``We're over it. 

``We got on with it today as we will tomorrow.''

The three-time series champion was more put out by falling foul of the stewards.

``Unfortunately we got handed a penalty to start at the back of the grid in race two after having a sticker over the safety hole in our window - which I don't agree with - but at the end of the day that's racing,'' he said.

``We didn't make any mistakes and were obviously very focussed. 

``We were annoyed, pissed off. 

``I had a fire in my belly, which obviously pushed me harder so I think the team will be asking me to bring that every weekend now.''

Pepsi Max Crew FPR's Mark Winterbottom claimed his 20th top-five finish in his last 22 starts at Symmons and Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard   enjoyed another podium where he won twice last year.

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