V8SC – Lowndes wins his 100th V8 Supercars Race

2015 V8 Supercars Championship | Skycity Triple Crown Darwin – Supersprints

Article and Images by Rhys Vandersyde

Hidden Valley Raceway – Saturday

Darwin Saturday

A sizeable crowd were waiting at the gates to get in early to claim the best vantage points for Saturday’s V8 Supercars action at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway. The shaded areas filled quickly as another sensational 33 degree day was on the cards.

With a new track surface for 2015 and fresh soft tyres for today’s second qualifying session and race, lap records were set to be broken during the course of the day. Cabin temperatures would again play a contributing factor in fatigue and stress by the end of today.

With a slight change in format for 2015, V8 Supercars elected to use both tyre compounds for today’s two sprint races. The first (Race 13) will be run as normal on Dunlop’s hard compound tyre. While the second race (Race 14) will use the soft tyre compound.

Qualifying Race 13

The first 10 minute qualifying session for the day took place on the hard tyre compound. With track position in qualifying being key, teams scrambled out of the pits at the start of the session to bank a quick time before returning to pit lane.

Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney topped the time sheets with a few seconds left of the session to post the unbeaten time of 1:07.11 to totally stun the entire paddock.

Chaz Mostert’s (Pepsi Max Crew/Prodrive Racing Australia) time was good enough to line up alongside Courtney on the front row while Red Bull Racing Australia’s Jamie Whincup was only good enough for third at the end of the session.

Qualifying Race 14

The short turn around between sessions, wouldn’t allow teams much time to adjust their cars suit the Dunlop soft tyres for the second qualifying session of the day.

Prodrive Racing Australia’s Chaz Mostert (Pepsi Max Crew) set the pace early setting a time of 1:06.42 by the midway point of the session.

However in the final moments of qualifying it would be the Nissan of Rick Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing) who would be the fastest setting a time of 1:06.29. The time marked the first pole position for Kelly in a Nissan and just the second for the brand since its return to V8 Supercars.

Holden would be represented in second place by Freightliner Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, while Mostert’s time would remain good enough for him to start from the second row of the grid.

Race 13

It might have been James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) who started from pole but it was Chaz Mostert who made the best start, leading the field into turn one. Behind the leaders chaos broke out, with  Coulthard and Whincup making contact and spearing off the track at the first turn forcing the rest of the field to scramble.

Coulthard and Whincup continued, although Coulthard only made it as far as pit lane. The incident brought out the first safety car of the race (lap three), when a grass fire broke out where the two ended up in the grass.

The race continued two laps later with Mostert leading Courtney with Mark Winterbottom applying constant pressure in third.

Meanwhile back down the order it was still chaos as drivers jostled for positions,with several cars running off the track during the course of the next few laps. David Reynolds (Bottle-O Racing), Jason Bright (Team BOC) and Andre Heimgartner (Super Black Racing), all tumbling down the order after excursions into the grass.

On lap 13 Courtney would be the next to make a mistake, locking his rear brakes at turn one and running wide which allowed Winterbottom and Rick Kelly (Nissan Motorsport) past elevating the Nissan driver into a podium position.

Images by Rhys Vandersyde

Lap 16 would see the return of the safety car after Craig Lowndes (Red Bull Racing Australia) made a mistake at turn four, heading off the track and starting another grass fire.

With only two laps to go when the race restarted, Courtney, Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) and Shane Van Gisbergen (Team Darrell Lea) all tried to make a move on Kelly for the final podium place. Kelly held on as Courtney, Tander and Van Gisbergen all made contact ending off the track at turn one.

Out in front, Mostert crossed the line untouched by the drama behind with Winterbottom close behind making it a Ford/Prodrive Racing Australia first and second.

Best of the Holden Commodores, was Supercheap Auto Racing’s Tim Slade in seventh while both Mercedes and Volvo’s struggled in Darwin heat with the best of the Mercedes, Will Davidson (Erebus Motorsport), in 14th and David Wall (Wilson Security Racing GRM) representing Volvo in 15th.

Race 14

Fabian Coulthard (Freightliner Racing) made the most of his front row start, jumping the Nissan of Rick Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing) who started off pole. However Kelly wasn’t finished fighting for the lead, holding his line into turn one but carried to much speed making contact with Coulthard and sending them both off the track.

Emerging in the lead through the dust was Red Bull Racing Australia’s Craig Lowndes with the carnage continuing behind with Andre Heimgartner (Super Black Racing) and Nick Percat (Repair Management Australia Racing) coming to grief after colliding at turn nine before even completing a lap.

The race resumed on lap eight with Lowndes still in the lead with Tim Slade (Supercheap Auto Racing) in second place.

The race continued until the Holden of Dale Wood (GB Galvanizing Racing) made contact with the Volvo of David Wall (Wilson Security Racing GRM) which sent them both of the track forcing Wood into the pits for repairs.

Out in front no one would challenge Lowndes in the 888 Holden who held on to win his 100th V8 Supercars race. The victory in Race 14 symbolically was the 888th race of the  ATCC/V8 Supercars series. Slade held off the fast finishing Ford of Mostert (Pepsi Max Crew/Prodrive Racing Australia) to finish second, with Mostert taking third.

Scott McLaughlin (Wilson Security Racing GRM) was the best of the other manufacturers ending the race in ninth in his Volvo with James Moffat (Nissan Motorsport) finishing just outside the top ten in eleventh. Mercedes continued to struggle with Will Davidson (Erebus Motorsport) back in nineteenth.

In the post-race press conference, Lowndes reflected on his 100th victory stating “This one is obviously something really special for me, thankfully Sladey [Tim Slade] let me get a gap and I just managed the car [to the finish line.”

He continued by thanking his team “It is a credit to the guys [Red Bull Racing]; it’s been a fantastic career, amazing to work with these guys for such a long time.”

V8 Supercars action continues tomorrow at Hidden Valley Raceway, with one more qualifying session before Race 15 of the V8 Supercars Championship.

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