Team Betta Electrical's Craig Lowndes scored the narrowest of V8 Supercar Championship Series victories at Eastern Creek by finishing the event on equal points with Pirtek Racing's Marcos Ambrose after each scored race victories in Sydney ...
Team Betta Electrical's Craig Lowndes scored the narrowest of V8 Supercar Championship Series victories at Eastern Creek by finishing the event on equal points with Pirtek Racing's Marcos Ambrose after each scored race victories in Sydney today.
The Ford pair shared the glory with third-placed Supercheap Auto Racing's Greg Murphy after another controversial weekend threatened to implode on Holden racing Team's Mark Skaife. Lowndes was awarded the round based on his victory in the last race of the day.
Skaife was involved in incidents with Ambrose in the first race and Team Perkins' Steven Richards in the second, both resulting in costly spins for the HRT team leader.
In front of more than 16,000 spectators though, Lowndes confirmed his Championship potential with his new team in 2005.
"It is only five months into a two year deal and it is already looking pretty good," Lowndes said.
"This does get the monkey off the back a bit, although it was more of an elephant. It is great for the team, we went into this year without a pole or a race win, and now we have them both."
Lowndes finished second behind a dominant Ambrose in the opening race, but changes to both cars reversed the performance advantage. Ambrose won the start, but Lowndes jumped into the lead with a fastest pitstop in race two.
"The plan was to jump him off the start, but that didn't work. This race was won in pitlane, we decided to follow Marcos in and we got the jump," said Lowndes.
"I'll celebrate with the guys a bit, but it will be pretty quick and easy because I really want to get home to be with the family." Lowndes' second child, Chilli, was born five days ago in Brisbane.
Ambrose was pleased with his weekend despite again having to the front the stewards over another incident with Skaife. He was able to extend his lead in the Series over team-mate Russell Ingall.
"The car was great in the first race, and I though we could improve it for the second race with some changes but it didn't work," Ambrose said. "We have extended our points lead, and it is always a good day when you do that.
"I'd only just been to see Mark this morning to clear things up after Perth, and 2 hours later he is mad with me again. Whenever a decision is going to be made it could go one way or the other, when there wasn't a black flag after a couple of laps I figured I was OK.
"I've been cleared of any wrong doing after the race, I bear Mark no malice, but it was just an exact reverse of Perth. I was never worried."
Murphy was third, for the weekend, his best result at Eastern Creek after two disastrous years with his old team.
"We've been pretty strong the last couple of rounds, but coming here I was a bit anxious, the past couple of years here have been pretty rough and I wasn't sure what kind of car we'd have.
"It was nice to be a few feet behind Marcos and not a lap down. We've learnt a lot this weekend, and we've moved forward as a team. I'm looking forward to China."
Richards came home fourth overall after also being involved in a tap with Mark Skaife at Turn 3, Skaife spinning off the track and Richards moving into fifth on the track which cemented his overall placing.
"I would have liked to get on the podium, this is the third time we've been fourth here but this time we did it with speed," Richards said. "The first set of tyres were terrible in the second race, and the Skaife thing we were both just having a race, I couldn't move over any more than that.
"You always want to be first, but I don't think we lost out too much today."
Skaife was fairly outspoken after Ambrose was cleared of any wrongdoing in the early incident, but silent after the Richards tap simply pushed him wide. Skaife's Holden team-mate Todd Kelly claimed fifth ahead of Ingall and Skaife.
Paul Morris was the only big hit of the day, the laconic Queenslander spearing off the track at high speed before slamming into the tyre wall at the end of the front straight.
"It was a pretty big hit, I was lucky it was tyres there and not just a wall," Morris said.
The Series now moves to China for the first time, with all cars and equipment being shipped to Shanghai by plane this Thursday from Melbourne's Avalon airport.