Lowndes looking good for 2006 title

Triple 888 Racing's Craig Lowndes moved a step closer to the V8 Supercar Championship after winning Round 7 of the series in style with a 10 second gap over his rivals Rick Kelly in the Toll/HSV Commodore and James Courtney in the SBR/Jeldwen...

Triple 888 Racing's Craig Lowndes moved a step closer to the V8 Supercar Championship after winning Round 7 of the series in style with a 10 second gap over his rivals Rick Kelly in the Toll/HSV Commodore and James Courtney in the SBR/Jeldwen Racing Ford.

At the halfway point of the championship Lowndes managed to survive several incidents over the three race format weekend, particularly the reverse grid which claimed a number of the top drivers, including Garth Tander, who up until this weekend was the series leader.

Previously known as 'The Kid' when with Holden's HRT, Lowndes is showing that he is a man on a mission since switching to Ford and is looking for his first title with the blue oval outfit, after finishing second last year behind fellow Ford driver Russell Ingall, who himself switched camps. If not for the disappointing result at Bathurst last year, Lowndes would have taken the trophy.

His weekend started with a 5th in Saturday's qualifying, followed by 2nd in Race One after dicing with Holden's Todd Kelly to the chequered flag. Race Two saw Lowndes grab another 2nd after coming from the back of the grid, only to be beaten by his nemesis Mark Skaife, who could only manage 28th overall, over the weekend.

The reverse grid is the last for the year and many drivers and teams will be glad to see the back of it, claiming carnage and associated costs being the major factors, however, it can provide drama and excitement, depending on who is in front of or who is behind you, I guess.

The highlight of the weekend was Lowndes' performance in Race Three and his manoeuvre on Rick Kelly into Turn 5 before the approach to the Yokohama Bridge, forcing Kelly back to 2nd spot for the remainder of the race, which saw James Courtney score his first podium finish after taking the seat at Stone Bros Racing, vacated by former two time champion Marcos Ambrose.

The big improvers awards went to Steven Johnson in the First Rock Insurance Ford who managed 4th and 'rookie' Lee Holdsworth who grabbed 6th for the weekend in the Repco Holden.

As we now head to the enduro rounds of Sandown and Bathurst, Lowndes said he was again looking forward to them and equally his test drive before heading to Melbourne.

If anything, Lowndes looks good for the championship, after all, the last six winners at Oran Park have gone on to take the title.

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Series Supercars
Drivers Steven Johnson , James Courtney , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Todd Kelly , Lee Holdsworth