“The right call”

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 06/03/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Champion Mark Winterbottom and fan favourite Craig Lowndes have applauded V8 Supercars’ handling of today’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide race in incredibly wet conditions.

While teams had been preparing for extreme high temperatures, it was all out the window when rain started pouring on the grid, forcing cars on to wet tyres and delaying the start.

Cars rolled out behind the Safety Car for the first six laps of the race, and when weather hit hard again the race was suspended for around 10 minutes before a handful of laps for the finish.

Winterbottom, who finished ninth, said the race was worse than Sydney Olympic Park in 2014, when the race was red flagged due to heavy rain.

“It was dangerous – when they called the safety car it was the right call, and the red flag,” Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.

“You’re going down the straight and the car’s trying to spear to the right. It was the right decision.

“When we went out there the track was good enough to race again – the officials did a really good job, when they called it and let you back out so it was good but pretty sketchy. You can’t see.

“You’re pretty well driving and hoping someone’s brake lights are on because you can’t see ... the high speed stuff is really sketchy, going up there at speed.

“You’re not really going to get hurt when you hit but it’s just how much damage can you do. It’s pretty bad.”

Lowndes led some of the race early on when cars in front slid out of the way and allowed him through, showing his experience and talent steering in the wet, finishing 13th.

He also praised the handling of the race in the conditions – though the timing to stop the race affected his team’s pit strategy to take on the full minimum 140 litres of fuel, which became the key to the race win by Nick Percat.

“The decision to bring out the safety car I think was the right one, the decision to start the race under safety car was the right one. To stop the race – I think it was the right one, but the crowd might have a different opinion on that one,” Lowndes told v8supercars.com.

“I remember I was chasing Will [Davison] and I saw him go through eight down to nine and he started to disappear in the spray. I was on the radio saying ‘I just can’t see anyone’… that’s the problem we had, the vision out of the car.”

Lowndes also compared the race to 2014 and couldn’t believe the downpours.

“It was amazing, it was the worst conditions I’ve seen for a long time. Homebush a couple of years ago we had the lightning and had to stop it – that was probably close to it,” he said.

“Being a street circuit it’s hard to disperse the water and with the amount of water coming down so quickly, there was standing water everywhere and that was hard to drive through and get around.”

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