Lowndes and Skaife claim another Bathurst 1000 title

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Lowndes and Skaife claim another Bathurst 1000 title

Team Vodafone drivers Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife added another Bathurst 1000 title to their resumes after finishing ahead of the sister car piloted by Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen, with Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Cameron ...

Team Vodafone drivers Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife added another Bathurst 1000 title to their resumes after finishing ahead of the sister car piloted by Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen, with Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Cameron McConville completing the podium.

Chequered Flag, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.
Photo by John Maricic.

Holden couldn't have asked for a much better finish celebrating the 20th anniversary since the Holden Racing Team won with Win Percy and Alan Grice. The #888 and #1 Team Vodafone Commodores took the chequered flag in a form one/two finish, reminiscent of the 1984 race when Peter Brock (#05) and John Harvey (#25) in the red and white Holden Dealer Team/Marlboro Commodores last crossed the line together.

Lowndes and Skaife were the only paired drivers that have previously won the Bathurst 1000 with Lowndes notching up his fifth title and Skaife his sixth. Described as "immortals" by some in the press, both have proved that they have ability to keep winning endurance rounds for a long time to come after taking Bathurst and the Phillip Island round a month ago.

Before that, they last teamed together to take the Queensland 500 in 2000. Ironically, Skaife who retired from full time racing has been in demand since his return in the former Greg Murphy Sprint Gas Racing Team last year.

The race was only one lap old when Fabian Coulthard in the Bundaberg Red Racing Commodore clipped the outside kerb on Conrod which sent the car catapulting into the sand trap before rolling half a dozen times. This was one of the most spectacular incidents at Bathurst in a long time. Coulthard was travelling at almost 300 kph (186 mph) when he left the track and afterwards claimed it was better than any ride at Dreamworld.

Start.
Photo by Chris Von Wieldt.

This brought out the first of four safety cars during the epic event. Coulthard wasn't the only casualty, Tony D'Alberto in the Centaur Racing Holden managed to clip the wall, together with Dean Fiore in the Bing Lee Ford whilst in the latter stages of the race Jason Bargwanna's Rock Racing Commodore suffered engine problems going across Skyline.

With five laps to the finish Toll Holden Racing Team's Will Davison who was running 3rd clipped the outside wall at Reid Park which ended his day and saw the final safety car venture onto the circuit. Although Lowndes had managed at one stage to lead by almost 30 seconds this was cut short and he had to sprint to the finish with Whincup and Tander pressuring him after spending the final two sessions and almost 500 kilometres behind the wheel and nursing a back complaint.

Skaife said, "Craig was just unbelievable, his concentration was paramount and just one slip on the marbles could have put him into the wall". Lowndes who always claims Bathurst as his most favorite track said that he switched over to the reserve tank with two laps to go and had to fight hard to keep Whincup and Tander behind him.

Lowndes and Skaife may have won the Peter Brock Trophy but the driving of former Ford and now part time endurance pilot David Besnard for Team Fujitsu will long be remembered by fans when he managed to stay ahead of Lowndes for almost two sessions. Besnard who once drove Indy cars pushed so hard around the mountain that he caused the tyres to delaminate. Worst still he copped a drive through penalty for speeding in pit lane.

#18 Jim Beam Racing: James Courtney, Warren Luff.
Photo by Chris Von Wieldt.

Series leader James Courtney in the Jim Bream Racing Ford managed to grab 5th and was one of only two Fords in the top ten. Although Courtney retains the lead Whincup is just over 200 points behind with four races left in the championship, with two of them street circuits. Pole sitter Mark Winterbottom finished 9th after co-driver Luke Youlden grazed the wall at the end of Mountain Straight forcing the Ford Performance Racing car into the pits for some minor repairs.

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