Lowndes, van Gisbergen make up after teammate tussle
Craig Lowndes says teammate Shane van Gisbergen apologised to him for the contact that sent the veteran off track in the closing stages of Sunday's Phillip Island race.
The pair were squabbling over sixth place late in the race when the contact happened, with van Gisbergen on a charge with fresher rubber thanks to an alternate tyre strategy.
It started with a wobble from Lowndes through Turn 11, light contact from van Gisbergen then sending the #888 Holden off the track at high speed.
Van Gisbergen immediately let Lowndes back through to avoid a penalty, before making a clean pass for the position several corners later.
Speaking after the race, Lowndes said van Gisbergen had come straight over the clear the air.
"We knew Shane had better tyres – I think it was 10-lap better, fresher tyres – and we knew he was coming and closing the gap by about half-a-second a lap, so it was one of those things that was inevitable," said Lowndes.
"I had a bit of a slide coming out of MG, around Turn 11 and it was just right where he got some momentum. Normally you would be on-throttle then, but of course we couldn’t because of the tyre life.
"It was just one of those things that are unfortunate.
"We’ve had a chat, he apologised because he knew it was a mistake.
"But, as I said, normally you would be on-throttle at that point, but because my tyre life was completely different to his it was just an honest mistake."
Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton confirmed that he sent van Gisbergen straight over to Lowndes' garage for a chat after the race, and said the issue would be discussed in greater detail during the debrief.
"I asked Shane as soon as he got out of the car, because I couldn't see if he initially hit him or hit him at all from the TV angles," said Dutton.
"I told him to go next door and have a chat about it. We're not going to avoid it or anything like that. It's never intentional, it's always close quarters racing.
"That's what we've done forever. Shane obviously got straight out of it to undo any damage that he did or contributed to it.
"[Craig's] always going to feel the worst about it because he's the one that's departed the track, even though he gathered it up fantastically and got back on. But he seemed to take it in his stride. He's been around long enough, he knows the game.
"There was no malice in it, it wasn't intentional. It was so close to the end of the race, they were racing for positions. We'll talk about it in the debrief. We talk about everything, it doesn't matter if it's not the most comfortable thing to talk about. That's our job."
The pair were inseparable across the Phillip Island weekend, even orchestrating a switch late in Saturday's race to give Lowndes a chance to chase down Rick Kelly in third place.
When he couldn't get it done, Lowndes let van Gisbergen – who was struggling with power steering issues – back through into fourth.
According to Dutton, that whole plan came from van Gisbergen, not the team itself.
"Shane knew he was doing it tough but if he tried hard enough he could match Lowndesy's pace," added Dutton.
"But he wasn't going to catch and pass Rick for a podium. So being a team player he got on the phone and said 'I'll make it easy for [Craig], I'll move over so he can go for a podium. If he doesn't, we need to swap them back'.
"That wasn't something that we instigated as a team, he did that. Craig was more than happy to accept it. It was just unfortunate he didn't catch Rick and pass him. Then he gave it back.
"That wasn't from us, we were just going to sit pretty and hold our breath while they diced."
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About this article
|Location||Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit|
|Drivers||Craig Lowndes , Shane van Gisbergen|
|Teams||Triple Eight Race Engineering|
|Author||Andrew van Leeuwen|