Lowndes joins V8 title race in Darwin
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 3:43a.m.
Holden veteran Craig Lowndes made his bid to enter the red-hot V8 Supercars title chase with victory in Sunday's 200km race in Darwin.
Lowndes passed title holder and championship leader Jamie Whincup in the dying stages of the 69-lap race at Hidden Valley Raceway to claim his first race win of 2012.
It ended another close weekend of racing between the championship's top four with Whincup walking away from the Top End with a 38-point lead over Ford's Will Davison after Saturday's race win and Sunday's second-place.
Davison, who started both races from pole position, battled his way to a sixth-place finish on Sunday while teammate Mark Winterbottom claimed his second third-place of the weekend to sit just 11 points behind Davison in the championship standings.
Three-time champion Lowndes is still 247 points off the lead but Whincup knows he will have a big race to the finish if he is to retain his crown at the end of the year.
"It's only early days," Whincup says.
"It's a battle. It always is. There's always five or six cars, it always comes down to the wire and this year will be no different, we've just all got to stay in contention."
Lowndes' win was built on an amazing charge in the closing laps on a set of fresh soft-compound tyres, allowing him to pass several cars before making the final move on Whincup to claim the victory.
"I basically gave it all to do what I've just done," Lowndes says of his late push.
Strategy was a key aspect of Sunday's race as Whincup and Lowndes seemed to find more from the soft tyres when it mattered than the Ford Performance Racing pair of Winterbottom and Davison.
Winterbottom said with conditions likely to be similar for next month's event in Townsville, FPR will need to lift their game to keep the pressure on their Holden rivals.
"We chose a different strategy. My first set of softs were okay, my second set were fantastic and my third set I struggled," Winterbottom says.
"We do need to improve. Craig's pace was pretty much what they did to us at Townsville last year so going up there tyre life is going to be another key to winning it.
"We tried something in that race, it didn't work. Will tried something on his car and it didn't work either by the look of it."
The Townsville 400 will be held from July 6 to 8.
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