Lowndes eyeing sixth Bathurst win after Sandown success
Craig Lowndes will start next month’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 as a hot favourite to claim his sixth victory in the legendary race after teaming with new co-driver Warren Luff to win today’s Sandown 500.
Lowndes secured his eighth victory in a 500km V8 Supercars endurance race by pressuring team-mate Jamie Whincup into a mistake with just 20 of the 161 laps remaining.
The win marked the 87th in Lowndes’ career and the ninth in succession for TeamVodafone.
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“I love this time of year because the longer races get the team involved more,” said Lowndes after the race.
“Obviously it was important to find a good co-driver when Mark Skaife left. Warren Luff and I have driven together in 12 Hour races at Bathurst before so we’re no strangers to each other.
“I’m looking forward to getting to Bathurst and making the car as nice as we had it today, and no doubt we’ll be in for a strong showing.
“Today showed that you’re going to need a fast car because there are a lot of speedy teams out there with good drivers.”
Team-mate Whincup, who went on to finish third in today’s race alongside his co-driver Paul Dumbrell, believes that just keeping up with the Lowndes/Luff combination at Bathurst will be a tough task.
“Those boys are going to be very hard to beat, they’ve got some great form there,” said Whincup.
“If we can at least keep up I think we’re doing a good job.”
Expanding on today’s race, Lowndes said that adjusting his car’s set-up to suit the changing track conditions was vital in the final result.
“In my first stint we actually faded away because I burnt the rear tyres up a bit too much,” he said.
“I had too much understeer at the start of the stint so I ended up wearing out the rear tyres because I was looking after the fronts.
“We worked on the roll-centre of the car during the stops, so we had to chase the set-up a little bit.
“After we came out of the pits following the final pit stop, I asked my engineers on the radio why I was that far (in excess of four seconds) behind Jamie. Obviously the team will look at what caused the slow pit stop, for me it felt like it took forever to put fuel in the car.
“In the last stint I had a good balance. I was a little bit lucky with the lapped traffic holding Jamie up a little bit and who knows what would have happened if he didn’t lock up going into Turn 2.
“Our car was strong but all of the top three cars were on par, it was just a matter of who had track position.”
The Sandown victory has moved Lowndes to third in the championship standings, 119 adrift of leader Whincup.