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CRAIG RECOVERS TITLE CHANCES
IT WAS a turnaround that says everything about Craig Lowndes’ never-say-die attitude and the tenacious Red Bull Racing Australia team.
 
V8 Supercar’s annual New Zealand round at the Pukekohe track saw two days of stark contrast for Craig and his team over the weekend.
 
A sudden tyre failure while heading for victory in Saturday’s Race 29 struck a major blow to Craig’s Championship chances, when his #888 Commodore was pitched into the unyielding concrete wall.
 
The blow out, at maximum speed on Pukekohe’s main straight, sent Craig into the highest-speed spin of his career.
 
Damage was extensive and required an overnight rebuild of the car, the largest racetrack repair of a car the team had ever undertaken according to team owner Roland Dane.
 
But on Sunday, with the car feeling ‘brand new’, Craig stormed through the field after qualifying 10th to finish second to teammate Jamie Whincup, closing the points gap to Championship leader Mark Winterbottom that was stretched on Saturday.
 
There are five races remaining in the 2015 V8 Supercar Championship.
 
FRIDAY
  • Clear but cool conditions
  • Two practice sessions today
  • 3rd fastest in both sessions
“I am excited about where we finished, it has been a very productive day. We had a new set of tyres ahead of practice and for us that meant we were able to make some good changes to the car. It was one of the nicest cars I have driven around here and given it’s a bumpy track, that is really important. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying and sprint races.” 
 
SATURDAY
  • Craig 12th in final practice
  • Craig qualifies 6th for Race 28, on hard tyres
  • Craig qualifies 2nd for Race 29, on soft tyres
  • Craig finishes 4th in Race 28
  • Tyre failure sends Craig crashing out of the lead in Race 29
“Today started well, we had a good first race and the car was better than I expected on the hard tyre. We weren’t sure what our speed was going to be like, but it worked well. To have a fourth place here was very encouraging going into the second race.
 
“Race two we had a ripper start on the soft tyre, and I was trying to control the pace more than anything. Then we had the tyre explode and I was doing my best to keep it off the wall. Unfortunately the concrete walls around here catch you, and it caught me. It’s disappointing, but let’s hope we can get the car out and ready for tomorrow.” 
 
SUNDAY
  • All night rebuild of the #888 Commodore finished at 6am
  • Craig 7th fastest in morning Practice, reports the car is all good
  • Craig qualifies10th for Race 30
  • Craig finishes 2nd in Race 30
“We had a great day! It was well deserved for the boys after all their hard work last night. They pulled an all-nighter, to not only take the car apart but get it fixed and put it back together again, it’s a real credit to them.
 
“The car was great. In qualifying we didn’t quite nail it but in the race we did. We had a great battle trying to chase down Jamie but he had good pace as well. To finally be on the podium here is pretty sweet. It wasn’t a win but for sure it was the next best thing for me. To get some good points off the back of yesterday’s race two, it really shows what team spirit is all about.”  

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