The second-to-last event of the V8 Supercars 2014 Championship series took place last weekend, and — after a long break between events — it couldn’t have come soon enough. The Sargent Security Phillip Island 360 featured three races (Championship races 32 – 34) on the Phillip Island circuit of Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia.
The good news for Holden fans is that the new VF Commodore came home with wins in all three races, with Garth Tander in the #2 Holden Racing Team Commodore winning the first race. Then it was championship leader Craig Lowndes in the #888 Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore getting the victory in the second, and his team mate Jamie Whincup, who was second in the championship standings going into the event, emerging victorious in the final race in his #1 Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore.
With the round done and dusted, Jamie Whincup managed to leapfrog teammate Craig Loundes and slot into first place on the championship standings. Loundes still has a chance of winning the championship, as do a few drivers below him in the standings. Thus, the competitive possibilities set the grand finale, the Sydney 500, to be a spectacular finish to an amazing year for V8 Supercars.
The big news to come from the event was that Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney (Car #22) was badly injured in a crash during the first race, which was won by his team mate. Courtney’s Commodore was hit by the #34 Fujitsu Racing Commodore of Alex Premat.
Premat’s Commodore blew a tire coming into a hairpin turn, causeing the car to lock the brakes and speed off the course, drive right through a sand trap, over a patch of grass (now sideways) and make contact with Courtney at 200km/h (124mph). The contact was made when the rear of Premat’s car hit the driver’s side door of Courtney’s car. The impact forced the door to cave in on Courtney, who was unable to push the door open and had to climb out via (what would be on a road car) the passenger side (on the left) with the help of Premat, who left his car to assist Courtney. Watch footage of the crash at 0:37 below.
It has been said that the crash was the most severe side impact collision in the category’s history and if it weren’t for V8 Supercars’ Car of the Future platform — which brought several changes, such as moving the driver’s seat closer to the centre of the vehicle – the collision could have been a fatal one.
Medical scans later revealed that Courtney suffered a fractured tibia and third-degree tears in his quadricep muscle in his right leg. On the advice of doctors, he will not participate in the final championship event. However, Walkinshaw Racing will still race the #22 car (albeit a replacement unit) with Nick Percat, who drove with Garth Tander at the three endurance events this year (including the Bathurst 100) driving the #22. As for Premat, he will race in Sydney, as the accident only left him with bruises from the crash. Gary Rodgers Motorsport has already begun work on repairing his #34 Fujitsu Racing car to have it ready for the championship finale. Progress can be followed on their Twitter account.
Next up for the V8 Supercars 2014 Championship is the Grand Finale – the Sydney 500 – set to take place December 6th – 8th local time.