Dane praises Lowndes' Winton performance

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 22/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

Team boss Roland Dane has declared Craig Lowndes' Sunday drive at Winton as good as he has ever seen from the veteran racer.

After the 40-year old's performance in the 200km race - which saw him run an alternate soft-hard-used soft strategy against the grain - Dane praised Lowndes' third place finish. And while the majority of questions were about Jamie Whincup and his inability to feature at the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint, Dane reminded v8supercars.com.au he wasn't the only Red Bull driver vying for the Championship.

"We've got two cars and the other car is 12 points off the lead and, of course, at potentially our worst circuit of the year has had a podium," Dane said of the #888.

"So I'm looking at both of them [and] the teams' championship - which we're still leading - and so we'll work hard.

"I don't care which one of them wins, I just want one of them to win."

While Whincup's race engineer David Cauchi feels they need to get more out of Friday practice - and Dane agreed there had been a few mistakes - Lowndes and new for 2015 engineer Grant McPherson seemed to have struck gold as a pairing.

"Yeah, they've gelled well, Grant's done a great job and Craig's responded," Dane said.

"Craig drove as well as I have seen him the last couple of years - a very, very good drive indeed."

But while Dane wasn't reading too much into Whincup's performance - which included three top 10 finishes and actually saw him gain a position in the Championship after Sunday's race to fourth.

"It's been a hard weekend for him and his engineer. There's been a few mistakes and direction hasn't been perfect, but at least we didn't crash, at least we got points in every race, it completely wasn't as bad as it could've been."

Whincup dropped down to sixth in the Championship last year around this time, but by Queensland Raceway had reclaimed the lead and ultimately won by more than a round's lead come December.

We've had bad weekends before and we'll no doubt have bad weekends again, they happen," Dane said.

"So we just have to make sure we don't lose too much momentum out of it and we have to make sure we put it right for the next time. That's normal. That's part of the course. It's not different to the situation we've found ourselves in a few times in the past...

"They need to do a better job than they have the last couple of weekends - but they had a good run in Tasmania, a good run in Adelaide really and they won a Championship last year, which wasn't long ago."

Whincup said post-race that it was great to improve from 22nd to 10th in Sunday's race, but the car was still lacking pace as both he and Lowndes were unable to get good speed out of the hard tyre.

"Unfortunately we just lacked pace again. We really struggled on the hard tyre and couldn't make up any spots at the start so we were just in the pack," Whincup said.

"We're still well below our average level, but if we had pace we could have done a lot more in that race and unfortunately it just wasn't there again."

Fortunately for the #1 and Red Bull, Hidden Valley - the next event on the calendar - was very kind to the team last year, with Whincup starting on the front row and finishing on the podium in all three races.

And while the team will be hard at work over the break until the June SKYCITY Triple Crown event - Dane stayed mum on plans.

"We're doing plenty [over the break] - but I'm not going to tell you," he said.

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