Craig Lowndes has reduced the points gap to Mark Winterbottom with victory in today’s first sprint race at Phillip Island.
The race was won at the start, Lowndes bolting into the lead from P3 on the grid as the field charged down to Turn 1.
Once in front it was a simple case of managing the pace for Lowndes, who had team-mate Jamie Whincup behind him the whole race to act as rear-gunner.
“We had to get a good start,” said Lowndes.
“We knew that Scotty [McLaughlin] was going to be fast, we knew Jamie was going to be fast, and I think I’m a little bit thankful that it was Jamie behind me. He had a bit of pace in the middle of that race, so very thankful.”
The win was Lowndes’s 10th at Phillip Island, making him the standalone record holder for victories at the circuit.
Winterbottom, meanwhile, took a very conservative approach to the first lap, opting to drop back to P8 rather than scrap with the likes of James Moffat and Shane van Gisbergen through the opening few corners.
He ultimately finished seventh, behind Scott McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, Moffat, and James Courtney, which means his lead over Lowndes is down to 213 points.
David Reynolds’s title hopes took a massive hit when he and van Gisbergen clashed on Lap 2. The pair were running fourth and fifth, Reynolds leading the Kiwi, before van Gisbergen sent the #55 Falcon into a high-speed spin at The Hayshed.
Remarkably Reynolds’s car wasn’t damaged, but he did finish 25th and last, dropping crucial points to Winterbottom and Lowndes.
The incident will be subject to a post-race investigation.