Lowndesy has broken Red Bull Racing Australia’s recent streak of poor form at Winton with a third place finish in today’s 200km race.
Neither Craig or Jamie had claimed a podium at Winton since 2012, but excellent strategy from the Holden team and good tyre life on the soft compound saw huge gains in the Red Bull camp.
Having qualified eighth, Craig admitted that they’ve been off the mark for the whole event and to come away with a podium is a fantastic result for the team: “We’ve struggled all weekend, there’s no doubt about it. Our qualifying pace wasn’t good enough, but our race car wasn’t too bad.”
The No.888 crew took a gamble on strategy, starting Lowndesy on soft tyres, helping him make an excellent getaway and move from eighth to first within a handful of laps.
“It’s a difficult circuit to pass on, so we knew we had to do something different and we opted to start on the soft tyre. I think that we could have pushed on a bit earlier, but the safety car forced us back onto our softs earlier anyway. I wasn’t sure how long they’d last,” he said.
A safety car with about 35 laps to go saw a mad dash into the pits for soft tyres by almost the entire field, leaving those who started on that compound questioning whether theirs would last that long on their second stint.
“At the restart it took me a couple of laps to get some temperature into the tyres, but we managed to maintain the gap,” Craig said. “At the end though we just didn’t have anything left to fight with.
“It’s a circuit where we don’t seem to hit the money, but the soft tyre helped us today and the hard tyre didn’t work that well for us. But to finish third is a great result for the weekend.”
Meanwhile, the problem of a lack of pace for the No.1 Holden continued as Jamie qualified 22nd. However, a strong strategy and good tyre life played into the hands of the reigning champ and he was able to claim back 12 positions to finish 10th.
“It was great to come from 22nd to 10th today. Unfortunately we just lacked pace again. We really struggled on the hard tyre and couldn’t make up any spots at the start so we were just in the pack,” he said.
“I think our strategy was good, our pit stops were good, mechanically the car was fantastic and has been all weekend. Without any pace we just hung in there and hung in there. Thankfully we had a little bit of tyre life compared to the other guys who were driving pretty hard at the start of that 30 lap stint after the safety car.
“We’re still well below our average level, but if we had pace we could have done a lot more in that race and unfortunately it just wasn’t there again.”
The weekend leaves Craig second in the championship on 925 points behind Mark Winterbottom on 937. Jamie remains in fourth with 801 points. With another break just around the corner, we’re back on track in Darwin in one month’s time.