Mark Winterbottom has reclaimed the lead of the V8 Supercars Championship standings with victory in Sunday’s 200-kilometre feature race at Winton, extending the Prodrive Racing team’s run of five victories in the last six races.
The veteran driver started on the front row alongside teammate and pole-winner Chaz Mostert, and the pair ran 1-2 off the line. Both were quickly overhauled by Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes, who had abundantly more grip after electing to start the race on the Dunlop Soft tyre.
Mostert was back in front in the second stint after passing Lowndes but threw away a shot at victory by dropping a wheel into the dirt and spinning off, becoming wedged on top of the tyre barrier!
The Safety Car was called while the marshals worked to retrieve the stricken Mostert, who resumed the race in lap place, three laps down.
Lowndes was back in the lead as the entire field completed their second pit stops behind the Safety Car, but with Winterbottom and Fabian Coulthard on a charge, he couldn’t resist their attacks and fell to third.
In the final 10 laps of the race, it looked as though Coulthard would actually mount a serious challenge to Winterbottom’s lead, but the Brad Jones Racing driver ultimately couldn’t find a way past and had to settle for second place despite Winterbottom’s well-worn tyres.
Lowndes hung on to finish in third place, twelve seconds clear of Nissan’s Michael Caruso, who claimed his fourth top-ten finish on the trot in a fine weekend for the team.
HRT’s Garth Tander atoned for a miserable weekend for the squad by finishing in fifth place ahead of David Reynolds’ Ford; Tander’s teammate James Courtney crossed the line in seventh place.
After giving the DJR Team Penske team its best qualifying performance of the season, Scott Pye sustained that pace in the race, although ultimately lost ground in the closing stages and faded to eighth ahead of Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin. Reigning champion Jamie Whincup finished in tenth place, putting in a charge from a lowly 22nd on the grid.
With two wins and a second-placed finish to Lowndes’ solitary podium in the final race, Winterbottom has turned a 74-point deficit into a 12-point lead over the Red Bull driver to return to the top of the standings. Fabian Coulthard sits a further 74 points adrift in third, while Courtney falls from second to fourth in the points table.
The field now takes a one-month respite from racing before returning to action on the weekend of June 19-21 at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway for the SkyCity Triple Crown.
|2015 V8 Supercars NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint – Race 12 Top-10 Classified Finishers (67 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||1:40:41.5755|
|2.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 1.8980|
|3.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 5.8240|
|4.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 17.6725|
|5.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 22.6707|
|6.||David Reynolds||Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 24.1227|
|7.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 24.4875|
|8.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 26.2255|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 29.8158|
|10.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 30.9379|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship Media
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