Triple Eight’s Craig Lowndes took his second win of the season at the Queensland Raceway, finishing ahead of Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom, with team-mate and Championship leader Jamie Whincup completing the podium.
Triple Eight had locked out the front row in qualifying with Craig Lowndes setting a new lap record of 1:09.222, taking pole by just 0.158 seconds ahead of Whincup, whilst the #5 and #6 FPR Fords of Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison qualified on row two.
Lowndes’ start was perfect, but Whincup’s was less so, bogging down and losing a number of positions.
The safety car was out early in the race on lap two after a three-car incident involving Rod Nash Racing’s David Reynolds, Tony D’Alberto Racing’s Tony D’Alberto and Michael Caruso in the Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Commodore.
The race restarted on lap four, with Lowndes leading Winterbottom with Brad Jones Racing’s Fabian Coulthard up in third. The one to watch though was Walkinshaw Racing’s Russell Ingall, who was quick in practice yesterday and was working his way forward, passing Stone Brothers Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen for fourth on lap five. ‘The Enforcer’ had already worked his was past Championship front-runners Jamie Whincup and Will Davison before the safety car came out.
Triple Eight opted for an alternative strategy to save Whincup’s race, with the Championship leader pitting early to switch to the option tyres and was gliding his way through the field.
Lowndes and Winterbottom both pit on lap 19 to switch to the option tyres, and would re-join the race in that order. After the completion of all stops by lap 26 it was Lowndes ahead of Winterbottom with Whincup up into third.
Lowndes began to pull out a lead, whilst there is trouble further down as Jacques Villeneuve in the Kelly Racing Holden spins whilst trying to pass Lucas-Dumbrell Racing’s Taz Douglas for 23rd spot. The Canadian is still able to hold on for 24th, with just Tony D’Alberto and Lee Holdsworth finishing behind him on the same lap.
Garth Tander finished four laps down in the Holden Racing Team Commodore after having to pit early on to fix a broken steering arm, whilst Jonathon Webb was the only retirement in the Tekno Autorsports Holden, pulling into the garage with damage nine laps from the end of the race.
Lowndes went on to take the win by 1.7 seconds ahead of Winterbottom, whilst Whincup managed his tyres to finish third, almost ten seconds down and ahead of Fabian Coulthard, who equalled his best result of the season in fourth in the Brad Jones Racing Holden.
Russell Ingall took his best result of the season in fifth, in only his second top ten result of the year for the Walkinshaw Racing team whilst Will Davison finished down in sixth in the #6 FPR Falcon.
Shane van Gisbergen (Stone Brothers Racing), Michael Caruso (Garry Rogers Motorsport), Tim Slade (Stone Brothers Racing) and Steven Johnson (Dick Johnson Racing) rounded out the top ten.
Sunday’s race gets underway at 15:35 AEST (07:35 CET).