26 Mar AUSTRALIA GRAND PRIX REPORT
For the first time, the Supercars raced for Championship points at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park (Melbourne) over the weekend.
Craig Lowndes took his Autobarn Commodore to three finishes out of four events in the new Championship format, being forced out of points race 4 with badly bent steering.
Nonetheless Craig added nicely to his Championship points tally and sits 13th in the pointscore after two Supercar race weekends.
“We made progress over the weekend,” Craig said “We finished where we started today, which was okay. We were hoping to make some in-roads into the top 10, but I’m happy. We learnt a lot over the weekend again and of course we’re looking forward to the next one.”
- Craig 11th fastest in Practice 1
- Craig 11th fastest in Practice 2
- Craig qualifies 17th for Race 3
- Craig qualifies 26th for Race 4
“It was a very productive day to begin with. We worked on the car balance during the two practice sessions, made it nicer towards the end of the second session and we were confident going into qualifying. Qualifying one, we locked up a tyre into turn three and ran wide. We opted to put another set of tyres on, (but) by that time the quality of the track had disappeared, though we still got a reasonable lap in. It was disappointing from where we were in practice though. We tried to re-bound for quallie two and I made another error on the first lap, so we opted to do a second lap and then got caught behind another competitor who was dawdling back to the pits.
I’m sure that the Stewards will look at it, but we start where we start. It’s not a good representation of where the car’s at, so we’re going to have a lot of fun in race one and race two to bounce back.”
- Craig qualifies 10th for Race 5
- Craig qualifies 11th for Race 6
- Craig finishes 16th in Race 3
We had a much better day today. We didn’t change the car too much in the qualifying sessions. We were hoping the track conditions would come to us, which they did, so I’m happy to be in the top 10 for the first one and just outside in the second one. It’s a big improvement for us as a team and I think that we are moving forward. The race itself was always going to be hard (starting 17 th ). We opted to do an early pit stop to try to get some clean air and a good couple of clean laps, which we did. The car was fast, but with that strategy we just wore the rear tyres out and we had nothing to fight with at the end. We opted to do that strategy because we had nothing to lose. We ended up one spot further up than where we started, so it wasn’t all bad.”
- Craig put out of Race 4
- Craig finishes 6th in Race 5
In the first race today, we got away to a good start, we were moving up through the field strongly in the wet conditions. We’d made a calculated decision with setup and it worked well. Unfortunately, with about four laps to go I had an altercation with another competitor, which broke our steering, and ended our race. Race two was very interesting because after we’d all done our compulsory pit stop the heavens opened and the rain came. We opted to stay out, which was a choice from the team.
I was happy to do that. I think ultimately it was the best choice as the guys who came in for the wet-weather tyres just didn’t have enough time to utilise what they had and, even so, the last two laps of the race there was pretty much a dry line all around the track, so it was a great decision from the team.”
- Craig finishes 12th in Race 6
“We got away to a good start. The car was much better today, we made slight adjustments from yesterday, and it was nice (this time) to have a dry race. Even though it was (only) a short sprint race, the tyre life (today) was always going to be a concern, but our car hung in there much better than it did in the previous races.”