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LOWNDES EDGES CLOSER TO TITLE LEAD

Craig Lowndes has edged closer to the lead of the 2013 V8 Supercar Championship after a solid weekend in tropical Townsville.

Despite a car that was mysteriously uncompetitive by Red Bull Racing's high standards, Craig was the star of Saturday's opening leg of the weekend double-header, utilizing an alternative tyre strategy to haul himself from 12th starting position to lead a large portion of the 70 lap race.

In the end he finished fourth, backing that up with a seventh on Sunday fighting a badly oversteering car.

Both results were ahead of his championship leading teammate, enabling Craig to close down the points gap at the halfway mark in the 2013 season.

FRIDAY

  • Sharing the car with endurance race co-driver Warren Luff, who was second quickest in the opening practice session, Craig ran the final two sessions but was well back in the order using old tyres
"We opted not to use a fresh set or a soft set (of tyres), so pretty much used the best tyres of a bad bunch to get a feel for the circuit. The car balance was actually not too bad. It was nice to drive and very consistent, we just need a bit more grip but that will come with fresh tyres tomorrow. All in all, I'm happy with where the car is at. We've saved our best tyres for tomorrow and we'll get to see where the cars elevate to with the new tyres."

SATURDAY
  • Despite his optimism from Friday, come Saturday's Qualifying Craig quickly discovered that his Red Bull Commodore lacked grip on the hard' tyres and he was only 12th fastest
  • Gambling on an alternative strategy to the rest of the field, Craig started on his soft' tyres and carved through the pack, taking the lead on lap nine and romping away to a big advantage
  • He pitted at mid race and swapped to the hard' tyres and rejoined as the leader, but his car lacked pace on these tyres and by lap 59 he'd lost the lead, eventually slipping to fourth
"Given both Jamie and I qualified back in the pack we had to run two different strategies to split us up a bit and I think today it worked well.I was very thankful the race went start to finish without incident and we could attack from the front. Using the softs early really helped us get through the pack, stay out of trouble and get clean air, so when we got on the hards we could salvage a good position. And finishing fourth from 12th was a very good result."

SUNDAY
  • Sunday saw another 70-lapper and while Craig qualified fifth this time, his car suffered oversteer on the hard tyres and time lost in the early laps could not be recovered by the end of the race
  • Craig finished seventh
"It was a bit of a weird race. We struggled a bit on the hard and with that early safety car we had to come in and to do 60 odd laps on the softs was going to be quite incredible. The boys did a great job to dig me out of a hole when I lost that rear left early and we ended up with some good points. We'll obviously analyse because all weekend we had trouble on the hard tyre for pace. So it's obviously disappointing given where we started but that's racing and we'll get on with it."

Championship points after 21 Races
1) Jamie Whincup 1591 points
2) Craig Lowndes 1480
3) Will Davison 1376
4) Mark Winterbottom 1337
5) Shane van Gisbergen 1310
6) Garth Tander 1302
7) Fabian Coulthard 1291
8) Jason Bright 1269
9) James Courtney 1243


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