Craig Lowndes notched up his third win of the season in the final race of the SkyCity Triple Crown at the Hidden Valley circuit outside of Darwin. The Red Bull Racing driver was challenged in the final laps by a fast finishing Mark Winterbottom, however he was able to place his Holden Commodore in all the right places during the closing stages to secure the victory.
Winterbottom fell less than one-tenth of a second short of Lowndes’ Red Bull Racing Commodore at the chequered flag, tantalisingly close to achieving the ultimate recovery after yesterday’s morale-destroying collision with David Reynolds. There was some consolation for Reynolds, who rounded out the podium in style for double-podium finish for Ford Performance Racing with a performance that will bring hope to Ford fans after a miserable start to 2013.
Jonathon Webb capped off an impressive outing in Darwin by steering his Tekno Autosport Commodore to fourth place, while Garth Tander rounded out the top five for the Holden Racing Team.
The race was headlined by a spectacular, mid-pack accident on the opening lap which involved at least 10 cars. With the field tightly bunched on the exit of Turn 1, Scott McLaughlin squeezed Jason Bright onto the grass, which triggered all out destruction as the 28-car field stormed toward Turn 3. Tim Slade was the first to spin, however James Moffat, Lee Holdsworth, Dean Fiore, Alex Premat, Alex Davison and David Wall all suffered race-ending damage. The incident is under post-race investigation by the stewards, and they will surely deal out harsh penalties to those who triggered the carnage.
A red flag was called by race control in response to the incident, and it took the marshals over half an hour to clear the trail of destruction left by the wrecked cars. James Courtney further halted the race shortly after the restart, when his stricken HRT Commodore lost power on the approach to Turn 6. As a result, the race was cut short significantly, resulting in all all-out 24 lap dash to the chequered flag.
Superior strategy paid off for Craig Lowndes, as although David Reynolds had his measure off the restart, Lowndes’ engineer Jeremy Moore immediately called the veteran into the pits in an attempt to undercut the Bottle-O Racing pilot. The tactic worked, and it appeared that Lowndes would stroll to his 92nd victory.
However, Mark Winterbottom had other ideas, and drove the wheels off his FPR Falcon to chase down Lowndes in the dying stages. But Winterbottom’s charge was in vain, as Lowndes used all of his experience to keep the FPR Falcon behind him in the time-limited race.
Shane van Gisbergen piloted his VIP-Petfoods Commodore to sixth, ahead of Will Davison in the second factory-backed Ford Performance Racing Falcon. Scott McLaughlin finished a provisional eighth for Garry Rogers Motorsport; however the rookie will come under post-race investigation for his involvement in the first-lap carnage. Maro Engel achieved a career-best finish of ninth in the V8 Supercars, completing a promising weekend for the Erebus Motorsport outfit. Le Mans-bound Jason Bright guided his Team BOC VF Commodore to the final place in the ten.
It was a frustrating finish to the weekend for Jamie Whincup, who was handed a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane infringement. The penalty was issued to reprimand the 30 year-old for spinning the rear wheels of his car before it was released from the air jacks, which subsequently put the championship leader back to 19th position where he finished the race.
It was an equally frustrating race for Lockwood Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, who couldn’t manage to start his car on the formation lap ahead of the restart. While the Kiwi eventually fired up his Commodore, he was forced to start from the back of the grid and ended up 13th.
A heated exchange took place between Nissan’s Todd Kelly, and DJR’s Chaz Mostert on the 20th lap. The two came to blows in the final sector, and continued to trade paint through Turns 12, 13 and 14. Kelly ended up facing the wrong way on the outside of the final corner, while Mostert sustained significant damage to his Wilson Security backed Falcon. The two finished 20th and 17th respectively and will no doubt be part of the large group of drivers paying a visit to the stewards this evening.
The final race of the SKYCITY Triple Crown carried significant championship implications at the top of the standings. While Whincup still leads the championship ahead of Lowndes, his leading margin has been cut 159 points (having been as high as 224 points earlier in the weekend). Shane van Gisbergen moves up to fourth, as the Kiwi managed to keep his nose clean throughout the weekend and subsequently leapfrogged the struggling BJR duo of Coulthard and Bright.
The V8 Supercar circus now heads east to Townsville for the Sucrogen 400 between 5-7 July.
2013 V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown – Race 3 Final Classification (24 laps*):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||31:39.6940|
|2.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 0.1165|
|3.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing / Ford Performance Racing||+ 1.7795|
|4.||Jonathon Webb||Darrell Lea Racing / Tekno Autosports||+ 2.4636|
|5.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / TWR||+ 4.6353|
|6.||Shane van Gisbergen||VIP Petfoods / Tekno Autosports||+ 5.1507|
|7.||Will Davison||Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||+ 7.7470|
|8.||Scott McLaughlin||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 8.9293|
|9.||Maro Engel||SP Tools Racing / Erebus Motorsport||+ 9.2086|
|10.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 11.2531|
|11.||Michael Caruso||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 15.7606|
|12.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||+ 17.6507|
|13.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 19.8581|
|14.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 20.7673|
|15.||Tim Blanchard||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 21.5599|
|16.||Russell Ingall||SuperCheap Auto Racing / TWR||+ 21.9941|
|17.||Chaz Mostert||Wilson Security Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 25.5215|
|18.||Scott Pye||EKOL Racing / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 26.7500|
|19.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing AU / Triple 8 Engineering||+ 1 lap|
|DNF.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||22 laps|
|DNF.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / TWR||3 laps|
|DNF.||Lee Holdsworth||IRWIN Racing / Erebus Motorsport||0 laps|
|DNF.||Tim Slade||Heavy Haulage Racing / Erebus Motorsport||0 laps|
|DNF.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Brad Jones Racing||0 laps|
|DNF.||Alex Davison||Jeld-Wen Racing / Ford Performance Racing||0 laps|
|DNF.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||0 laps|
|DNF.||Dean Fiore||Dodo Insurance / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||0 laps|
|DNF.||James Moffat||Norton 360 Racing / Nissan Motorsport||0 laps|
* Scheduled race distance reduced from 35 laps to 24 laps due to red-flag stoppage on Lap 1.