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Mar 29, 2014 - 06:33 AM
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Lowndes' Incredible Tassie Drive Retains V8 Supercars Championship Lead
Posted by: newsla on Mar 29, 2014 - 06:32 AM
Sports Cars
Lowndes' Incredible Tassie Drive Retains V8 Supercars Championship Lead


A freakish drive by Craig Lowndes has turned disaster into a rescue mission of epic proportions after a crazy day of racing at the Tyrepower Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains in Launceston.

 

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Lowndes endured a day of being taken out by his team-mate and then to be sent to the back of the grid by officials for the second of two races, only to make up an amazing 20 places, along the way to retaining his V8 Supercar Championship lead.

It was an extraordinary effort by the veteran, one of his very, very best. Team-mate Jamie Whincup won both races - having pushed the race one leader and his team-mate off the track earlier - as he fought back in Championship terms.

The story of the day was how Lowndes turned potential disaster into a celebration. He pegged back 20 places in the second race in a dramatic drive that took centre stage.

"We didn't make any mistakes and were obviously very focussed. We were annoyed, pissed off. It was annoying to start at the back of the grid and we knew we were going to be fast," Lowndes said.

"They are the rules. I don't agree with it but I wasn't the one up there fighting the battle."

Whincup showed remorse over the incident, apologising numerous times throughout the day.

"Lowndesy and I have been racing hard for eight years and never had contact so it was a pretty ordinary situation for our team. I am rapt he came back through the field in that second one," Whincup said.

Until the second race it was a tough day for Lowndes all-round.

First he was subject to an investigation when it was alleged his team had covered up a safety hole in the window of his car during second qualifying. The point was a hole that officials use to pull out the window in the event of an accident.

Officials looked into the alleged breach on two fronts; the safety and aerodynamic repercussions.

Lowndes had qualified second on the grid for race two, as he had done in race one but was sent to the back of the grid when stewards found it was a safety and aerodynamic breach.

That was just the start of the bad news for the Championship leader.

In the first of the two Saturday Super Sprint races Lowndes and Whincup easily had the field covered until the worst scenario of any team - team mates fighting each other - ended in tears for Lowndes.

Coming into the final sweeping bend late in the race Whincup saw an opportunity to take the lead. He pushed inside Lowndes and made contact, forcing his team-mate off the track and back to eleventh from the race lead.

Whincup ultimately won the race from Holden Racing Teams' form driver James Courtney and Pepsi Max Crew FPRs Mark Winterbottom. Completing the top 10 was Russell Ingall in fourth, Scott McLaughlin, Garth Tander, Will Davison, Lowndes, Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye.

Whincup later declared his pass with legitimate, apologising to his garage over team radio as soon as he crossed the finish line.

"I am sad about the situation and Lowndesy deserved to finish higher. I don't feel sorry about the move though, it was a fair pass. I haven't done anything wrong but it is disappointing the team didn't get the 1-2 they deserve," he said.

In typical style Lowndes smiled away the incident but it was not difficult to read how he felt.

"If it was anyone else bar Jamie, you'd say - and it was - a racing incident," he said.

"It's just the fact it was Jamie - when you've got two top drivers in the team together, eventually you're going to have some kind of collision or contact."

Whincup beat Mark Winterbottom home in the final race. Fabian Coulthard rounded out the top three, with Scott McLaughlin, Lowndes, Jason Bright, Garth Tander, Scott Pye, Jack Perkins and Lee Holdsworth top 10.

As Whincup scored victory in both races he improved his position slightly in the Championship from seventh to thrird. Lowndes leads on 382 points from Coulthard (336), Whincup (324), Winterbottom (322), James Courtney (297) and Shane van Gisbergen (291).

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