Craig Lowndes kept his V8 Supercars championship hopes alive by winning the opening 140km race of the Ipswich round at Queensland Raceway on Saturday.
The veteran Holden star extended his incredible run at his home track, west of Brisbane, by finishing almost two seconds ahead of Ford’s Mark Winterbottom while series leader Jamie Whincup recovered from a nightmare start to claim third.
It marked race win No.10 – and fourth straight – at Ipswich for Lowndes, who swept the round last year.
“I want to say the car was perfect but I know there is improvement still in it,” he said ominously.
Lowndes revived hopes of V8 championship No.4 after arriving at Ipswich trailing teammate Jamie Whincup by 298 points.
He overcame engine dramas at Saturday’s final practice session to clinch pole position before dominating the 45-lap race.
In contrast, Whincup – second fastest in qualifying – was swamped on the front row of the grid at the race start after his Holden suffered clutch issues.
But the three-time champion recovered magnificently, plowing through the field after switching to the faster, soft tyres when David Reynolds and Michael Caruso found the sand and the safety car emerged.
It also marked a great comeback by Ford teammates Winterbottom and Will Davison (sixth place), who endured a nightmare Ipswich round last year after struggling on soft tyres to finish well outside the top 10.
“Sometimes second is as good as a win – that’s a big turnaround,” Winterbottom said.
Whincup (1923 points) still leads the series, 91 points ahead of Winterbottom, 167 more than Davison and 277 more than Lowndes.
The round concludes with a 200km race on Sunday.