Title fight down to Sydney
- By Kassie Gadeke
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
The 2015 V8 Supercars Championship will be decided at the Coates Hire Sydney 500 after Craig Lowndes earned maximum points today at the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint.
Lowndes lost ground to Championship leader Mark Winterbottom off the start of the 200km race, but clever strategy had the Red Bull driver at the front of the pack after the two required pit stops. Lowndes won by 1.97 seconds over Volvo's Scott McLaughlin and taking his 11th career win at Phillip Island.
Now, the pressure's on Winterbottom to take his first title, with a 179-point lead over Lowndes. Three-hundred points will be handed out in Sydney.
"We had to knuckle down, focus and believe the car would be fast enough," Lowndes said.
"We're still fighting, there's still the teams and the drivers championship up for grabs."
Winterbottom looked on for a solid third place finish until Lowndes' teammate Jamie Whincup had a dive on the #5 Pepsi Max car on the final lap, making his way to the podium.
Whincup wasn't going to let the chance at a podium slip away the year he hands over the #1.
"Ten seconds back, all I could see was the podium, so went for the big lunge on the inside - I figured he's going to win the war I may as well win the battle," Whincup said.
Frosty was cool with the move, though there was a little tap from the Red Bull Commodore on the way past.
"Wasn't quick enough good in qually to get one lap but in the race stabilises and I was fourth quickest ... it was a good move, " Winterbottom said.
"It is what it is, we finished fourth, just have to work on getting speed back. We're comfortable, I'm glad we have that points gap because those Red Bull boys are quick."
The start was hectic as always in the pack at Phillip Island, with cars peeling into pit lane at the end of lap one, taking an alternate strategy.
Whincup, who had pounced into second, pitted at the end of the first lap with a number of cars that did not have track position over their teammates.
It was drama for Brad Jones Racing with Jason Bright unsafely released right into Scott Pye, and Michael Caruso after spinning wheels in his pit stop meant a drive-through penalty.
McLaughlin had a close call in the pits too, and after his second stop was immediately rounded up by Lowndes for the win.
Two Nissans had a strong run with Todd and Rick Kelly fifth and sixth in the order.
David Reynolds' Championship challenge has ended after the Bottle-O racer finished 10th.
The Coates Hire Sydney 500 kicks off on Friday December 4.