ON the same day he equalled late mentor and close friend Peter Brock’s number of event starts with 212, Craig Lowndes cemented himself as the most successful driver in V8 Supercars history by claiming a record 91st career victory.
Lowndes surpassed the record he shared with five-time champion and former team-mate Mark Skaife to claim the record of most championship wins in Australian touring car history.
And the three-time champion did so by sneaking past his team-mate and reigning champion Jamie Whincup to mark Red Bull Racing Australia’s first one-two finish. Lowndes’victory also celebrates Triple Eight Race Engineering’s 100th race win since its inception in 2003.
“It’s remarkable,” said Lowndes, who made his V8 Supercars debut in 1994 and was congratulated on the podium by former record holder Skaife.
“It’s such a great feeling. It almost feels like my first victory because everyone has been expecting me to reach it for so long. Of course, when you finally get that victory you can relax and it’s nice to finally have done it and have Skaifey congratulate me there on the grid.
“We’ve gone back to basics with the car and changed the rear springs and we’ve found something. I’m very happy. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Lowndes started in fourth for the two-part race and finished the Part A in second behind team-mate Whincup. After the rolling re-start for Part B, Lowndes snatched the lead and went on to claim his 91st victory. Lowndes was also responsible for Triple Eight’s first ever win as a team at Eastern Creek in 2005.
Whincup, who now leads the championship from Will Davison and Lowndes, labelled his team-mate as the best ever.
“We’re going to have to start calling him ‘the GOAT’ – the greatest of all time,” Whincup said with a chuckle.
“Today is all about Lowndesy and what a way to do it with Triple Eight’s 100th race win and Red Bull Racing Australia’s first one-two. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Whincup started from pole in his No.1 VF Commodore and just staved off rival Mark Winterbottom on the final lap to clinch second.
“We had probably the fourth or fifth quickest car out there so I’m happy with second,” said Whincup, who has now led Part A and lost Part B twice this season in the 60/60 race format.
“We still haven’t found what we’re looking for from the car but we’re trying our guts out and we’re getting results.”
Meanwhile, two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner was the eighth fastest on track in race one of the Dunlop Development Series but will start Sunday’s race two from 21stafter being involved in an early incident.
The 27-year-old started from 10th and made up two positions inside the first two corners before a three-car battle left Stoner the worse off, the tiniest of taps to the rear from a rival car sending his Red Bull Pirtek Holden into a spin and onto the grass.
He found himself in 30th but lapping eight quickest, worked his way back to 21stwhere he will start tomorrow morning.
“It was a little bit disappointing because we got a really good start,” said Stoner, who is now three races in to his V8 Supercars career since leaving MotoGP.
“I felt as though we put ourselves in a good position. I tried to clear Steve Owen and I went around the outside. I think someone dive-bombed him and turned him straight into me which turned me around.
“It was race over then and from there it was pretty much just trying to understand the car better and try and get it better for races two and three.
“Unfortunately, luck just didn’t go our way but hopefully tomorrow is a bit better for us. We have a car quick enough to be in the top-eight and I actually thought we could have qualified in fifth or six.”
Races two and three of the Dunlop Series will take place at 10.40am and 3.45pm AWST respectively on Sunday, with the main category to race two 120km races at 12.05pm and 2.25pm AWST. All races will be telecast on Channel 7. Check local guides for times.