- By Kassie Gadeke
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Race leader Craig Lowndes has crashed out of contention in the second race at the ITM 500 Auckland after his rear left tyre explodedcoming into turn one at Pukekohe.
Lowndes got the jump on pole sitter David Reynolds off the start, but it was all over on lap 12 with Lowndes' tyre exploding and pitching him into the wall.
It was a big impact for the Championship challenger and 2015 Bathurst winner, who responded on the radio and jumped straight out of his Red Bull Commodore.
The incident has ramifications for the Championship for Lowndes who drops to third behind winner Reynolds. Points leader Mark Winterbottomfinished fourth.
"It's one of those things," Lowndes said of the accident.
"We did push on pretty hard the first three or four laps. I was trying to get a gap from Dave.
"Coming down the main straight I didn't feel a thing, all of a sudden it just exploded. I was trying to get the nose back and run it down the road if I could but the ... concrete fence was there to catch me.
"Hopefully it's not too much damage to the car, I'm fine.
"I'm a bit annoyed - I'm trying to break this hoodoo at this place."
Lowndes is yet to win a race at Pukekohe despite starting every event here.
"Had a ripper start, the car was feeling really good. Shippy was doing a good job telling me what Dave was doing. We were trying to match that, trying to look after that tyre and unfortunately everyone saw that end results.
"We'll get it back, see what we can do and see what tomorrow brings."
Race engineer Grant McPherson was shocked to see the incident. It is the first race the V8 Supercars have run on soft tyres at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
"All we know at this stage was it had pressure prior to exploding. It wasn't a slow leak, you could see on the telemetry it just let go," he said on the television broadcast.
"We'll investigate - not that there's any evidence left to examine."