Craig Lowndes has claimed his greatest achievement in his racing career by claiming a one-hundredth touring car race win in Saturday’s second hit-out at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway. It’s a feat no other driver has achieved before.
Fittingly, his win came in the 888th race of the Triple Eight Racing stable, with whom he has raced in the #888 entry since 2005.
Victory came thanks to another first-corner incident, with front-row starters Ricky Kelly and Fabian Coulthard coming together just seconds after the start of the 21-lap race. After being jumped off the line by Coulthard, Kelly tried to fight back under braking. However, he only succeeded in locking up and sliding into the back of the New Zealander, who was punted into the Turn 1 run-off on the opening lap for the second race running.
It was an opportunity for profit at no cost for Lowndes – after starting fifth – smartly slipped into the lead and quickly set about building enough of a cushion to fend off any challenge.
Further down the order, a spin for Andre Heimgartner triggered a chain-reaction and a pile-up in the midfield that saw Nick Percat’s driver-side door ripped clean off after he was caught up in the mess. The accident was started by Will Davison tipping Heimgartner into a spin, and as Percat braked in avoidance, he was hit from behind by Lee Holdsworth and pushed into the path of series champion Jamie Whinchup.
The first-lap chaos created a jumbled running order behind Lowndes, with the SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden of Tim Slade now promoted into second place from eighth on the grid.
The Walkinshaw stable driver came under immense pressure from Chaz Mostert, the winner of the previous race, but Slade managed to hang on until the chequered flag to finish ahead of the Prodrive Racing entry.
Battles further behind were equally intense, with the highlight being a terrific scrap between Scott Pye, Shane van Gisbergen, James Courtney and Mark Winterbottom. Pye managed to hang on and score the DJR Team Penske outfit’s best result of the season, thanks in part to a late mistake from van Gisbergen that saw the Kiwi run wide.
Courtney and Winterbottom finished sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Garth Tander, Scott McLaughlin and David Reynolds.
Winterbottom remains in the championship lead, although Lowndes’ win has trimmed the points advantage to 29 over the Holden driver.
|2015 V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown – Race 14 Top-10 Classified Finishers (21 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing||27:50.523|
|2.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 1.839|
|3.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 2.445|
|4.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 3.888|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea Stix||+ 5.327|
|6.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 6.033|
|7.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 6.392|
|8.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 7.728|
|9.||Scott McLaughlin||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 10.243|
|10.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 10.448|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship