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STRONG RUN TO 12TH AT SANDOWN

Craig Lowndes and Steve Richards drove a strategic race from the back of the field to finish a strong 12th in the Sandown 500 on the weekend.

The latest round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, held at the iconic Melbourne venue, also doubled as the opening round of this year’s Endurance Cup.

After a very wet Friday, the TeamVortex Commodore was among the top 10 fastest once the conditions dried on Saturday, only to have a power steering problem put Craig out of the second qualifying race.
That relegated the #888 Holden to start Sunday’s main race from the back of the grid.
Clever strategy and a strong drive from the most experienced pairing in the race had them finish 12th .
"It was a difficult day - it was always going to be, starting from the back,” Craig Lowndes said.
“The strategy from the guys was good but the red flag hurt us a little bit because the race didn't go the full distance. It could have gone probably better if we hadn't had that stoppage time. 
“We move on to Bathurst now and we take a lot of confidence and positives out of this weekend."
 
FRIDAY
  • Co-driver Steve Richards in the car for first session
  • Fully wet second session, Craig 14th fastest
  • Steve Richards in the car for 3rd practice, in wet conditions
“It's been a challenging day today. We've been fighting the conditions trying to get the car to ride the kerbs and put its power down in the wet conditions. We believe that as the weekend goes on the weather will get better, so we've obviously got to be mindful that we don't chase the car with these conditions totally, but at the same time we need to understand going forward. 
“In my session I was just lacking a bit of straight-line drive, which the guys did a number of changes on. We got the car better towards the end and in this last session we tried to continue that on with Richo (Steven Richards). We've got a little bit of work to do to be up the front in these conditions. Touch wood, Sunday looks dry and hopefully it will be."
 
SATURDAY
  • Craig 8th fastest in final Practice, in dry conditions
  • Craig qualifies 11th for 1st race
  • Co-driver Steve Richards finishes 14th in co-driver race
  • Craig has power steering issue, car retires from 2nd race
"Obviously today was all about getting the car right, as we had limited running in the dry from yesterday. Steve's (Steven Richards) race, we learnt a lot from that. We made a change to the car for mine, but didn't really get a chance to show what the potential was. It was a power steering issue, which we found on the grid. It's disappointing to finish today this way, but knowing we've got a long day tomorrow, it's encouraging that the car's working well. Both Steve and I are very happy, so bring on tomorrow and let's see what we can do."
 
SUNDAY
  • Craig starts race, but hands over early to Richards after race restarted following crash
  • Strategic run sees Car #888 climb up the order to finish 12th 
 “Both Steve (Richards) and I were happy this morning after warm-up and in the race the car itself was reasonably good. If anything, it would have been nice to have a bit more rear than what we had, but all in all for what we had, it was a good fight back.”  

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