Craig Lowndes asserted his Supercars title credentials with a dominant victory in Race 17 at the Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint.
Starting on the outside of the front-row, Lowndes made the best of the starts to beat pole-sitting team-mate Jamie Whincup to the first corner.
The TeamVortex Holden was not headed outside of the two pitstop cycles from there, with Lowndes going on to score a 12th career win at Queensland Raceway.
“It’s not often you get a car that’s as easy to drive as that,” smiled Lowndes.
“We had a good start and were able to control the pace.
“We were lucky we had an extra set of new tyres to use (after electing not to do a final run in qualifying) and we split them across the stints to get two bites of the cherry.”
Whincup, Chaz Mostert, Michael Caruso and Mark Winterbottom completed the top five, while Shane van Gibsergen struggled to 12th.
Whincup and Van Gisbergen ran second and third respectively to Lowndes in the first stint but struggled mid-race as the track temperature increased.
Whincup’s second stint included an off at Turn 6 that saw him lose positions to Winterbottom and Caruso, which the championship leader subsequently regained at the second and final stops.
Winterbottom sat third at the start of the last stint but, unable to find a way through on Whincup, eventually found himself overtaken by Caruso and then Mostert.
The Supercheap Auto Ford had run a long first stint, ensuring Mostert would charge from eighth to third while on fresher tyres than his nearest rivals in the final 20 laps.
“We raced our own race and the strategy was pretty good, but we’ve still got to find something to fight these guys (Triple Eight),” noted Mostert.
“We still need a better balance on the soft tyre but we’re working hard on it to come up with something.”
Scott McLaughlin and Tim Slade banked solid points in sixth and seventh respectively while Chris Pither, Todd Kelly and Fabian Coulthard completed the top 10.
Van Gisbergen’s struggle for pace was compounded by stacking behind Whincup in his second stop after anticipating a Safety Car that did not eventuate.
The trigger had been Scott Pye, who visited the Turn 6 sand trap in his DJR Team Penske Ford.
Pye’s race had been effectively ruined on just the second lap when he was tipped into a spin by James Courtney, who received a drive-through for his actions.
Courtney ended up failing to finish after coming off worst in a late-race scrap with Rick Kelly and Van Gisbergen.
Whincup now leads the championship by 110 points over Van Gisbergen, with Winterbottom now just 10 adrift of the second Red Bull driver.
Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint Race 17
|1||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:07.4961|
|2||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:10.0976|
|3||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||65||01:19:12.4378|
|4||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||65||01:19:13.3381|
|5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||65||01:19:15.3440|
|6||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||65||01:19:17.1077|
|7||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:17.5644|
|8||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||65||01:19:29.7199|
|9||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||65||01:19:31.8433|
|10||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||65||01:19:34.4237|
|11||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||65||01:19:38.1847|
|12||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisberg||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:47.5273|
|13||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:48.2136|
|14||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||65||01:19:48.2438|
|15||LD Motorsport||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:53.5660|
|16||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||65||01:19:53.9776|
|17||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:19:56.7482|
|18||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:20:02.3522|
|19||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||65||01:20:02.9639|
|20||LD Motorsport||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:20:03.5288|
|21||Preston Hire Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:20:16.2818|
|22||Erebus Motorsport Hungry Jacks||Craig Baird||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:20:16.7907|
|23||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||65||01:20:59.6496|
|24||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||64||01:19:37.7852|
|25||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||64||01:19:38.8602|
|DNF||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||61||01:15:05.0224|
|2||Shane Van Gisbergen||1711|