Whincup in Lowndes’ crosshairs at halfway
Craig Lowndes is itching to kick-off the second half of the V8 Supercars Championship after escaping from a tumultuous opening seven events within touching distance of the points lead.
The second-placed Lowndes is currently just 111 points adrift of Jamie Whincup; the closest he has been to his team-mate at this stage of the season since the current points system was introduced in 2008.
Whincup has won four of the last five championships, while Lowndes is without the biggest trophy since 1999.
The fan favourite’s promising position comes despite suffering big points losses with incidents at Symmons Plains and Hidden Valley, and a difficult run last time out in Townsville.
“You’ve always got to be happy when you’re in the top three in the championship,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com of his season to date.
“Even on a bad weekend in Townsville, we managed to close the gap to Jamie, which ultimately was great.
“I wouldn’t say I’m completely satisfied with our season so far, but I’m happy where we are because we have had our ups and downs.”
Lowndes’ major weakness against Whincup has long been his qualifying performances; a trend that has continued this year.
Lowndes’ qualifying average over the first 21 races of the 2013 season sits at 6.3, which is almost identical to his efforts at this point last year.
Whincup’s average meanwhile is currently at a class leading 3.8, and was as strong as 2.6 prior to his Townsville disaster.
Not surprisingly, Lowndes pinpoints qualifying as the area he needs to improve on if he is to finally win a fourth title.
“We need to make sure we qualify better than we have done,” he admitted.
“(But) normally from the halfway point we generally get stronger.
“I’m really looking forward to the back half of the season and hopefully, as we’ve done in the last couple of years, we’ll be able to get some momentum started and put a bit of pressure on come Homebush.”
The next event on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar takes place at Queensland Raceway; a circuit where Lowndes has been unbeaten over the last two years.
Red Bull Racing Australia was one of four teams to test at the Ipswich venue earlier this week in the lead-up to the July 26-28 meeting.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s video from the test, including an interview with Jamie Whincup