Craig Lowndes has credited an all-night effort from Red Bull Racing engineers for keeping him in the V8 Supercars championship race after a dramatic Auckland 500.
Lowndes suffered an extraordinary tyre blow-out in front of the main grandstand on Saturday while leading a 60km race, which might have cruelled his entire weekend.
The explosion did significant damage to his Commodore and dashed his hopes of a first win in New Zealand in 15 years of trying.
But the crew dug in with a marathon session in the garage to ensure the No.888 car could see out the Pukekohe meet.
Lowndes repaid their work with a stunning drive to claim second in Sunday’s 200km race, then revealed the depths of the effort from the back-room team.
“They had literally an hour and a half turnaround from when they finished my car, went back and had showers,” he said.
“My number one said he fell asleep in the shower and they got him out and got him back out here.”
“For the boys to be able to back it up with the pit stops and the strategies and everything else was a credit to them.
“They were buggered before the start of the race and they’re a little bit happier now.”
Teammate and race winner Jamie Whincup agreed, saying he saw the team arrive back at the hotel for their showers at 6:30am.
“To be pumping wheels on and off with zero sleep over the last two days is pretty impressive.”
“It’s great for the teams championship as well, it’s well and truly lit up.”
The one-two result keeps Red Bull’s hopes of maintaining their teams championship trophy for another year.
While that will be decided in the final meets at Phillip Island and Sydney, Whincup gained a new gong by winning the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy for most points in Pukekohe.
“We had a very good day, the best day I’ve had in New Zealand yesterday and I think I’ve topped it today,” he said.
“I haven’t won much this year but it’s going to be a good year knowing the JR trophy is in the cabinet.”