Lowndes becomes first centurion in 888th race

Craig Lowndes has had a fairytale finish to his Darwin Saturday. In the 888th race of the V8 Supercars championship, the five-time Bathurst winner charged to an emphatic victory to become the first man in the sport’s history to claim 100 race wins.

The day got off to a less-than-ideal start, the two qualifying sessions seeing the Red Bull Holdens off the pace, with Craig qualifying ninth and fifth, Jamie in third and 17th.

Race One saw more action in the 21-lap sprint than anyone could have predicted and unfortunately both Lowndesy and JDub came off worse for wear. With the order constantly changing outside of the top three as cars continued to spear off into the dirt, the pair finished 11th and 18th respectively.

The second 60km race saw the field don soft tyres, which proved to be the magic touch for the No.888 Holden. As more carnage ensued off the start, Craig came out cleanly and from there his lead was never in question.

“Starting fifth, I didn’t think I had much of a chance,” he said. “I snuck around the carnage at Turn 1, plucked a gear and off I went.

“We did our runs yesterday on the soft tyre and once the safety car period finished my engineer, Grant, said to me we’ve got 15 laps to go and I knew the car was going to be good for the distance, but of course you never know if you’ve got enough speed and I wasn’t sure on the restart what was going to happen. We really just knuckled down and kept the car straight. The car was probably quicker than I expected and from that point I was just able to drive the car home.

“For me, it’s just been a great career and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in some very good teams. Part of me is just so thankful to get it over and done with and get the 100th win. It’s nice to now finally have it done so I’ll try and get 101 now. It’s a great feeling! It’s a credit to the team as at the beginning of the race we didn’t know if we had the speed. For me it’s been fantastic.”

The poor qualifying result had Jamie in the middle of the pack where it was almost impossible to have a clean race. Having been innocently involved in an early incident, the reigning champ had to claw back spots, finishing 16th.

“It was a tough day in the office to state the obvious,” he said. “Race One was disappointing. Coming into Turn One, we were squeezed by Fabian Coulthard and I was expecting a tap, but unfortunately we came in at the wrong angle and the actual rear wheel rode up over his car and that was unfortunately the end of that race.

“Race Two was self-inflicted – we shouldn’t have qualified 17th. We just weren’t quick enough and I didn’t do a very good job on the soft tyre, so then I got involved in an incident. I was an innocent bystander, but there’s lots of damage.

“The crew have done a crazy job fixing the car from Race One to Two and they’ve got a semi-long night getting it straight and ready to go for tomorrow.

“It’s been an unbelievably eventful day, but who really cares about me? The day’s about Craig Lowndes getting the big 100. It’s a massive milestone and I couldn’t be happier for him. What a fairytale doing it on Race 888 of the championship. I’m not superstitious at all, but it’s almost like someone upstairs wrote the script and we’re all just puppets. It’s crazy how the right person wins at the right time every now and again.”

Tomorrow’s action kicks off at 9:35am local time with another practice sessions, followed by 20 minutes of qualifying and a 200km race. Check out the TV schedule here.