A daring two-stop strategy has propelled Craig Lowndes to a shock victory ahead of Triple Eight teammates Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup in the opening race of the V8 Supercars Championship’s Perth SuperSprint round at Barbagallo Raceway.

The race started with the field on wet-weather tyres courtesy of an earlier rain shower, but a dry line emerged after a dozen laps to force the entire field in for a change to the Dunlop Soft tyres.

By that point van Gisbergen had already worked his way to the lead in the sort of conditions in which he excels, but the earlier-than-ideal pit stop and a long run to the chequered flag on the soft tyres had many people worried.

Not so for Lowndes. The series veteran opted to pit for a second time with 20 laps to run and dropped him to the tail of the field, but the wily driver used his fresher tyres to full advantage by picking off his rivals one-by-one as their grip fell away.

Lowndes eventually fought his way up to second behind van Gisbergen, and then shot past the New Zealander with just three laps to run of the 50-lap race, winning by over six seconds despite the onset of a late shower.

Craig Lowndes - 2016 Perth SuperSprint

Lowndes’ two-stop strategy gamble paid off with a masterful drive to victory from the back of the field.

The top-six finishers were claimed by Holden runners, with Will Davison claiming ‘best of the rest’ honours for TEKNO Autosports ahead of the Holden Racing duo of Garth Tander and James Courtney.

Nissan Motorsport driver Todd Kelly also gambled on a two-stop strategy and worked his way up to seventh place, while Chris Pither chalked up a fine eighth place in his Super Black Racing Ford, which was recently rebuilt after its monster shunt in the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in March.

His race was in stark contrast to Ford stablemates Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters, who both tumbled down the order to finish thirteenth and fourteenth respectively. The finished behind the Volvo of Scott McLaughlin, with the New Zealander making little headway after qualifying a poor fifteenth.

Their troubles were nothing compared to reigning champion Mark Winterbottom. The Prodrive Racing driver had an error-ridden race, spearing off the circuit early in the damp conditions before being tipped into a spin by Dale Wood as he tried to enter the circuit’s tight pit lane. He finished a lowly 22nd.

2016 V8 Supercars Perth SuperSprint – Race 8 Top-10 Finishers (50 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering 51:03.288
2. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering + 5.864
3. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering + 6.575
4. Will Davison TEKNO Autosports + 7.439
5. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 9.929
6. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 15.100
7. Todd Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 15.723
8. Chris Pither Super Black Racing + 17.210
9. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 18.026
10. Tim Slade Brad Jones Racing + 19.867

Image via Motorsport.com

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Geoff Burke

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