- By Kassie Gadeke
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Craig Lowndes has blitzed the field at Barbagallo Raceway with an incredible strategy call giving the Supercars icon his 16th Perth race win.
The TeamVortex driver took an extra pit stop for fresh soft tyres and charged through the field in the final stages after rejoining 22nd.
His Red Bull teammates were at the front of the pack, but Lowndes came to life in the final few laps. He rounded up the top 10, taking P1 on lap 47 and earned an 18-second lead before a downpour hit hard on the final lap. He still finished with a 5.8sec lead over Red Bull teammate Shane van Gisbergen and became the seventh different race winner of the year.
With Jamie Whincup in third and TEKNO’s Will Davison behind, it was four Triple Eight cars at the front of the field, ahead of a pair of Holden Racing Team Commodores.
With just one compulsory pit stop for tyres in the 120km race, Lowndes’ second stop raised eyebrows, but he and engineer Ludo Lacroix made the right call, with tyres and rain the talking points of the day.
“I questioned it because when Ludo said ‘18sec lead’ I said ‘are you nuts’ – it really came to us, the car was really good,” Lowndes said.
“We had to push at the end, Ludo was counting the laps and we got there.”
Van Gisbergen pushed hard throughout the race, making easy work of young gun Cam Waters early in wet conditions, fighting with Whincup and copping a hit in the rear from Chaz Mostert.
The Prodrive cars were worse for wear, with Waters finishing 13th after starting on pole, champ Mark Winterbottom off the road several times to finish 22nd and Mostert dropping back to 12th in the late stages after battling for the lead.
Todd Kelly’s Nissan was the first home after the streak of six Holdens.
The V8 Supercars will race 200km around Barbagallo Raceway tomorrow, with the day kicking off at 10.45am local time for qualifying.