Holden’s Craig Lowndes hasn’t given up hope of reaching his V8 Supercars century at his most successful circuit, he just need to rein in two runaway Fords.
Lowndes remains on 99 race wins after Saturday’s pair of sprint races at Perth’s Barbagallo Circuit, both won by Prodrive Racing Australia’s Mark Winterbottom.
After Winterbottom and teammate Chaz Mostert shared the two pole positions for both 60km races, it was 2013 Bathurst champion Winterbottom who would go on to secure back-to-back victories.
Lowndes’ third and fourth place finishes mean he’s just four points behind new championship leader Winterbottom going into Sunday’s 83-lap race, but he’s also still waiting to become the first driver with 100 V8 Supercars race wins.
Sunday’s 200km race features the inclusion of soft compound tyres and Lowndes says getting the strategy right will be crucial to his hopes of reaching the ton with his 16th win at Barbagallo.
“The Fords are very strong here at the moment, but we’ll see what we can muster up for tomorrow in the Red Bull Holdens,” Lowndes said.
“I don’t know how the soft tyres are going to be at the moment to be honest, everything’s a bit up in the air.
“I think the soft tyre will diminish really quickly, it’s just a matter of doing the longest stint on them possible as I think they’ll still be the fastest compound.”
Another possible barrier in Lowndes’s path is New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, who opted to keep a set of hard tyres clean for Sunday’s race, running the same set of tyres for both of Saturday’s sprints.
It meant the Tekno Autosports driver limped to a 24th place finish in Saturday’s second race, effectively sacrificing a race in the hope of using the fresh tyres for success on Sunday.
Holden’s Garth Tander, who will also have a set of relatively fresh tyres after an early failure on his Commodore in Saturday’s opening race forced him to retire after just nine laps, doesn’t think van Gisbergen’s gamble is wise however.
“It probably gives us a bit of flexibility but I’d rather have taken the points, than a DNF,” Tander told AAP.
“Things will need to play out a particular way to gain any advantage from our misfortune. I was surprised Shane did what he did to be honest. I would’ve taken the points and used my tyres up today than have any small advantage tomorrow.”