Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife have claimed back-to-back L&H 500 Phillip Island victories after the pair led home a Team Vodafone Holden 1-2 in the V8 Supercars Championship’s first endurance race of the season.
The pair’s victory was assured courtesy of a slow puncture suffered by Stone Brother’s Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen, who was closing rapidly in his Ford, which was particularly gentle on its tyres in race trim.
Van Gisbergen’s demise was to the benefit of the second Team Vodafone entry of series leader Jamie Whincup and co-driver Andrew Thompson. The pair had driven consummately: leading in the middle phase of the race only to lose valuable time in two separate pit stops.
The first came in the Thompson/Whincup driver change when Thompson couldn’t get out of the car when his driver’s side door became stuck, and the second delay came during the race’s only safety car period when Whincup was forced to queue in the pit bay behind Lowndes, who had also pitted.
Whincup passed van Gisbergen on the final lap of the race, as the hapless Kiwi fell to fifth at the chequered flag.
Third place when to the day’s polesitters, Will Davison and Luke Youlden in the FPR Ford, who led the race off the line, but didn’t quite have the pace of the Team Vodafone entries when it counted.
The race start was itself delayed by their fellow front-row starter, when HRT co-driver Nick Percat (co-driver to Garth Tander) stalled on the dummy grid when it wouldn’t disengage gear. Percat was forced to start from pit lane, but he and Tander produced a sensational drive through the field.
With thirty laps to go, Tander had incredibly fought his way up to being able to battle with Lowndes for the race lead. At the final restart, the pair staged a thrilling side-by-side battle that was eventually resolved in Lowndes’ favour as Tander’s tyres began to fade and he dropped a few placed. He finished fourth at the end, snatching the place from van Gisbergen in the final inches before the finish line.
V8 Supercars L&H 500 Final Classification (113 laps):
|Driver / Co-Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Craig Lowndes / Mark Skaife||Triple 8 Racing||3:08:13.2041|
|2.||Jamie Whincup / Andrew Thompson||Triple 8 Racing||+ 6.3205|
|3.||Will Davison / Luke Youlden||Ford Performance Racing||+ 9.2131|
|4.||Garth Tander / Nick Percat||Holden Racing Team||+ 15.6235|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen / John McIntyre||Stone Brothers Racing||+ 15.6250|
|6.||David Reynolds / Tim Blanchard||Kelly Racing||+ 19.5440|
|7.||Jason Bright / Andrew Jones||Brad Jones Racing||+ 27.3750|
|8.||Rick Kelly / Owen Kelly||Kelly Racing||+ 32.3485|
|9.||James Courtney / Cameron McConville||Holden Racing Team||+ 34.6131|
|10.||Fabian Coulthard / Craig Baird||Walkinshaw Racing||+ 40.9545|
|11.||Jason Bargwanna / Shane Price||Brad Jones Racing||+ 49.6775|
|12.||Lee Holdsworth / Greg Ritter||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 52.2947|
|13.||Greg Murphy / Allan Simonsen||Kelly Racing||+ 1:02.6083|
|14.||Todd Kelly / David Russell||Kelly Racing||+ 1:07.3800|
|15.||Steve Owen / Paul Morris||Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 1:07.5959|
|16.||Michael Caruso / Marcus Marshall||Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 1:14.1465|
|17.||Mark Winterbottom / Steve Richards||Ford Performance Racing||+ 1:17.6851|
|18.||Jonathan Webb / Richard Lyons||Tekno Autosport||+ 1:19.6768|
|19.||Dean Fiore / Michael Patrizi||Triple F Racing||+ 1:22.0884|
|20.||Russell Ingall / Jack Perkins||Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 1:24.5901|
|21.||Dale Wood / Taz Douglas||Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 1:24.7762|
|22.||Alex Davison / David Brabham||Stone Brothers Racing||+ 1:27.7304|
|23.||Paul Dumbrell / Dean Canto||Rod Nash Racing||+ 1:30.2555|
|24.||Tim Slade / Daniel Gaunt||Stone Brothers Racing||+ 1:30.4833|
|25.||James Moffat / Matt Halliday||Dick Johnson Racing||+ 1:33.2940|
|26.||Steven Johnson / David Besnard||Dick Johnson Racing||1 lap behind|
|27.||Warren Luff / Nathan Pretty||Lucas Dumbrell||2 laps behind|
|28.||Karl Reindler / David Wall||Brad Jones Racing||13 laps behind|
[Image and video via V8 Supercars]