Team Vodafone pilots Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife chalked up another endurance race adding to their portfolios by winning the L&H 500 at Phillip Island on the weekend and both are looking forward to following up on their success at the Supercheap...
Team Vodafone pilots Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife chalked up another endurance race adding to their portfolios by winning the L&H 500 at Phillip Island on the weekend and both are looking forward to following up on their success at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 come October.
The pair last won an endurance race back in 2000 when they teamed to take the Queensland 500 when both were driving for the Holden Racing Team. In that 10 years Lowndes switched to Ford and although he didn't win a championship he did claim three Bathurst titles. He is now back at home in a Holden with Triple 8 Racing.
Lowndes couldn't hide that trade mark smile of his during the press conference. He was full of praise for his co-driver Skaife and his team, "I wanted to win this for Mark and I and the team and now we can't wait for Bathurst". An emotional Skaife responded, "Craig drove fantastically, it's the best I have ever seen him drive".
Dubbed the "Legends" because of their successes, they were short priced favorites after hitting the track for practice on Friday. Easily the most experienced pair, Lowndes and Skaife have now moved to 75 and 88 race wins respectively, with Skaife holding the record, and on his own admission believes he has another four or five years of endurance racing left in him, remarkable considering it was only a couple of years ago that he hung up his helmet and concentrated on his career as a commentator and focus on road safety and track development.
The sister Team Vodafone car of Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen looked good during practice and qualifying and claimed pole position but lost out to Rick Kelly in the Jack Daniels Racing Commodore off the starting line. After passing Kelly, Whincup set a healthy lead for Owen to take over the wheel but problems with an oil cooler cost them any chance of a podium when on lap 91 they copped a black flag. Lost time in the pits not only ended their campaign but cost Whincup points in the series.
The Ford pairing of Mark Winterbottom and Luke Youlden grabbed 2nd from Kiwi Jason Richards and his BOC Holden partner Andrew Jones after they battled for position in the dying stages of the race. Winterbottom was quick to highlight, "I finished 3rd here last year, this year 2nd, hopefully next year I'll be standing on the top (of the podium)". Richards was ecstatic with his result considering all three cars in the Brad Jones Racing stable spent time in the pits during the early stages of the race with wheel nut problems.
Series leader James Courtney's finished 12th after suffering tyre problems and that together with Whincup's woes allowed him to stretch his lead in the championship. Winterbottom remains in 3rd spot with Lowndes moving into 4th as we head to Bathurst, the "Holy Grail" of Australian motorsport.