Craig Lowndes has led a Red Bull Racing 1-2 in the V8 Supercars Championship’s opening race of the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, beating home teammate Jamie Whincup by just over one season.
Championship leader Mark Winterbottom found himself on the receiving end of some robust driving by his rivals and was bundled down to seventh by the end of the 14-lap race, while fellow championship contender David Reynolds had a disastrous outing.
Reynolds was the victim of contact with TEKNO Autosports’ Shane van Gisbergen, who admitted to a tit-for-tat contact with Reynolds’ Prodrive Racing Ford on the second lap. The pair nearly came to blows on the opening lap when van Gisbergen felt that he had been forced wide by Reynolds at Turn 1, and exacted his revenge by punting Reynolds into a spin.
Reynolds rejoined at the tail of the field and finished last, and later tried to remonstrate with the New Zealander in a heated post-race exchange. The Stewards incredibly elected not to penalise van Gisbergen on the spot for ruining Reynolds’ race – and potentially his championship hopes – but later opted to dock the New Zealander 25 championship points.
All of this allowed Lowndes to move back into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings and further close on Winterbottom’s championship lead by another 27 points.
Third place in the race went to McLaughlin – second fastest in qualifying – who, along with Whincup, was jumped off the grid thanks to Lowndes’ rapid getaway off the line.
Behind van Gisbergen, James Moffat finished in fifth place in his Nissan ahead of the two HRT Holdens of James Courtney and Garth Tander, who sandwiched seventh-placed Winterbottom.
Winterbottom’s teammate Cameron Waters picked up his first top-ten finish as a solo V8 Supercars driver by crossing the finish line in ninth place ahead of Tim Slade’s SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden.
|2015 V8 Supercars WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint – Race 31 Top-10 Finishers (14 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||21:50.880|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 1.039|
|3.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 1.780|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen*||TEKNO Autosports||+ 9.023|
|5.||James Moffat||Nissan Motorsport||+ 9.283|
|6.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 11.485|
|7.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 13.404|
|8.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 15.455|
|9.||Cameron Waters||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 17.410|
|10.||Tim Slade||Walkinshaw Racing||+ 21.974|
Images via Motorsport.com