05 Feb CRAIG DEFENDS BATHURST 12 HOUR VICTORY
Driving the latest Ferrari 488, Craig successfully defended his last start victory in the same race, in 2015, after missing the 2016 race through injury.
With Triple Eight teammate Jamie Whincup and Ferrari factory driver Toni Vilander alongside, plus the combined resources of the Maranello Motorsport and Triple Eight teams, the Caltex-backed Ferrari 488 was the car to beat.
Vilander was fastest in Qualifying and then topped the Shootout, to start the bright red racer from pole position.
In 12 hours of action packed racing riddled with Safety Cars for on-track incidents, the #88 Ferrari ran consistently run inside the top five, irrespective of which driver was at the wheel.
As the last hour played out, Whincup fought off the challenge from Shane Van Gisbergen’s Mercedes Benz GT3 to clinch a resounding and popular victory.
“Fantastic to win the Bathurst 12 Hour again and go back to back, it means a lot to me,” Craig Lowndes said.
“My day was pretty easy really … I did most of my work in the morning and my job was to stay out of trouble and stay on the lead lap, which we only just managed to do when I got punted into the sand.
“I knew we had the car pace to get back up there, so I wasn’t too concerned at that stage.
“From there, Toni and Jamie and the crew got the job done.”
• Vilander fastest overall in first practice
• Craig 3rd fastest overall in day’s final session
“It’s been a pretty good day. As always traffic is a major issue here and it’s hard to get a clear lap, and that was pretty frustrating in the middle of the day. We all got some good laps in today and we’re all very evenly matched on pace, and the car certainly looks to be competitive.
“We tried not to show our hand too much … let’s see what happens in qualifying.”
• Qualifying interrupted by several red flags, Craig does only a handful of laps
• Vilander goes outright fastest in Qualifying
• Vilander wins Top Ten Shootout for Pole Position
“I think we are in good shape for tomorrow. I’ve just spent my time (today) concentrating on race runs and I think we have a good (race) car for tomorrow. It’s good to drive, nicely balanced … we just have to stay out of trouble and at the sharp end.”
• Vilander start races race, leads early laps in the dark
• Craig double stints, gets spun into sandtrap at quarter-distance restart, stays on lead lap
• At half distance (6 hour mark) #88 Ferrari is 2nd
• Multiple Safety Car punctuate race
• At three-quarter distance ##88 Ferrari is 1st, with 210 laps covered
• Craig, Jamie & Toni drive to a decisive victory
“We didn’t have a good lead up to the race but the car rolled out well at the start of the weekend .. the 488 is a much nicer car across the top (of the mountain) than the (previous) 458.
“So although we had to push at times, the car was good all day … it was a great day for us.”