Lowndes proving critics wrong at Ipswich

Craig Lowndes

Craig Lowndes believes his upturn in performance at Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint is proving to critics that he is still a competitive force in Supercars.

The Triple Eight driver claimed his first front row start of the season in qualifying on Saturday which he followed up with a first top-five finish since Symmons Plains in April.

Lowndes’ campaign has been hampered by struggles to extract one lap pace in qualifying that has seen him start nine of 15 races outside the top 10.

The qualifying boost saw Lowndes challenge Scott McLaughlin for victory, leading the race twice, before sliding back to fifth at the chequered flag, following an aggressive strategy.

The result arrived at the event which saw the three-time series champion claim his last race win 12 months ago.

While he admits today’s qualifying and race is a new challenge, the 43-year-old feels Saturday’s display proved he is still a contender at the sharp end of the grid.

“I hope so,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com, when asked if he thought the result had answered his critics.

“I think that there is no doubt my career is at the other end than at the starting end, but there’s no doubt that I’m still feeling competitive and happy, and think that we can still do the job, and hopefully we’ve proved a point on that.

“Our race pace has always been extremely good, we’ve been managing to get into the back end of the top 10 regardless of where we start, our qualifying has been our Achilles heel.

“We rectified that on Saturday, and again today will show if we’re on the right track.”

Having struggled to master the new Dunlop tyre in qualifying trim this season, Lowndes says it was a relief to return to the front row of the grid.

“I think it was a relief for everyone,” he added.

“We’ve been working hard. It’s not like we haven’t been trying to be up the front.

“It’s just been a matter of time. Everyone’s been putting pressure on everyone to find out when and how and why aren’t we.

“Sunday is a reset day and we hopefully can do it again.

“The competition is really hard, it’s really tough. I think there was nine tenths within the top 15 or 20 cars, so it is really tough out there.

“One little mistake and you put yourself in the middle of a pack and your day’s almost done.”

The Supercars field will return for a 20 minute qualifying session at 1140 ahead of a 65 lap race at 1405 local time.

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