Craig Lowndes has taken his total number of Australian touring car wins to 99 after he claimed a pair of lights-to-flag victories in Saturday’s SuperSprint races in the V8 Supercars Championship’s second round of the season at Symmons Plains Raceway.
The opening 25-lap race saw the Red Bull Racing driver convert a hard-fought pole position into what was ultimately a dominant run to victory.
Not always known for making the best of starts, the series veteran had a flawless getaway to claim the lead from fellow front-row starter Mark Winterbottom through the opening two corners.
He then kept his Prodrive Racing rival from launching an attack into the Turn 4 hairpin on the opening lap, while behind the pair there was drama aplenty.
The infamous corner claimed its first victim in the form of the luckless Will Davison, who found his season’s best fourth-placed qualifying position come to nought. Davison had his Erebus AMG facing the wrong way the corner’s apex after being tagged into a spin by James Courtney’s HRT. Post-race, Courtney defended himself by saying that he had been pushed into the back of Davison, but it did little to quell the animosity between the two drivers.
The drama at the hairpin allowed Lowndes and Winterbottom to have an immediate buffer over the rest of the field, with third-placed Courtney unable to close down the gap to the pair in front.
Shane van Gisbergen had made a terrific start after being penalised two grid spots for a qualifying infringement (he started eighth) and was up to fourth by the end of the opening lap, having navigated his way past the Turn 4 incident by riskily positioning himself around the outside of the corner.
The New Zealander was himself unable to threaten Courtney’s third place, and spent most of his race defending against the attention of the second Prodrive Racing Ford of Chaz Mostert. David Reynolds finished in sixth place ahead of reigning champion Jamie Whincup, who struggled for race pace compared with race-winning teammate Lowndes.
Scott McLaughlin’s wretched early-season results continued, forced to retire his Polestar Volvo S60 on the opening lap with a broken transaxle.
|2015 V8 Supercars Tyrepower Tasmania Supersprint – Race 4 (25 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||22:01.312|
|2.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 2.277|
|3.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 3.071|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 8.475|
|5.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 8.802|
|6.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 9.876|
|7.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 10.082|
|8.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 10.961|
|9.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 13.350|
|10.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 14.025|
Back-to-back victories for Lowndes put him in the pound seats to claim an historic 100th career win in Sunday’s 200-kilometre finale, and it was another textbook performance from the Red Bull Racing driver.
As was the case in Race 4, Lowndes made a perfect getaway from pole position and led the entire 25-lap race from teammate Jamie Whincup, managing an early Safety Car restart to beat the reigning champion by 1.6 seconds.
James Courtney claimed another podium finish after overtaking David Reynolds’ mid-race, leaving the Bottle-O Racing driver to fend off the second HRT of Garth Tander. Courtney continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship standings, albeit by a narrowed 28-point margin to Lowndes.
Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison, Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard completed the top ten finishers.
Rookie driver Andre Heimgartner threw away his excellent qualifying performance by locking up at Turn 4 on the fourth lap and spearing into the gravel run-off. He had been running in sixth place, losing one spot to Tander off the start.
Dale Wood and Michael Caruso both finished off the lead lap. The former copped a puncture after being tagged by Nick Percat, while Caruso was tipped into a spin by Dale Wood.
The V8 Supercars will return to on-track action tomorrow in a final practice session ahead of qualifying and the 200-kilometre Feature Race.
|2015 V8 Supercars Tyrepower Tasmania Supersprint – Race 5 (25 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||24:24.067|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 1.651|
|3.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 5.446|
|4.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 7.510|
|5.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 8.621|
|6.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 9.052|
|7.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||+ 9.586|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 10.233|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 12.614|
|10.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 13.204|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship