Craig Lowndes Sydney Telstra 500 Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

Craig Lowndes Sydney Telstra 500 Photo credit: V8 Supercars Media

Victory for Craig Lowndes at the Sydney Telstra 500 has ensured the battle for the V8 Supercars Championship will go down to the final race, as trouble for rival Team Vodafone team-mate Jamie Whincup saw his Championship lead cut to 83 points with 150 points up for grabs.

After a spin in his top-ten qualifying shootout lap left him starting from tenth and five places behind Whincup, Lowndes appeared out of contention. Undeterred though, he worked his way through the order not stopping when pole-sitter, Ford Performance Racing's Will Davison lost control and fired into the tyre wall on lap 11, triggering the first safety car. The pivotal moment came about when Whincup, climbing back through the field after the restart, clipped a curb on lap 24.  Damaging the right damper he was forced to pit for repairs. The pitcrew worked frantically to get the car back out, but his race became a salvage operation after he re-emerged at the back of the field four laps down. The Championship leader limped home in 20th position, picking up 45 points.

With Orrcon Steel Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom receiving an unmerited pit lane drive-through penalty after making contact with the rear of Pepsi Max Crew's Greg Murphy's car on lap 32, Lowndes moved up to fourth. Ten laps later he passed Jack Daniels Racing's Rick Kelly for second, behind Fujitsu Racing GRM's Michael Caruso. Lowndes hounded Caruso for ten laps after a third safety car deployment, before seizing the lead on lap 61. Having to conserve fuel, he just held off Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander in a thrilling finish to take the win by 0.8s, his first victory on the Sydney street circuit.

“The car's been sensational, but I was down on myself after qualifying,” said Lowndes.

“I knew we had a lot more in it. There has been a lot of carnage out there, but it was a hell of a race and we got the job done. I'll try and have a good sleep tonight!”

With the majority of the field running low on fuel in the final laps, the action was far from over. With Caruso running out of fuel on the last lap, Tander capitalised, passing with just a couple of corners to go. Slowing dramatically, Caruso was then hit by Shane van Gisbergen on the last corner, momentarily sending the SP Tools Racing Falcon into the air. Amazingly, both drivers crossed the finishing line with van Gisbergen grabbing the final podium spot.

Winterbottom, who had been seventh with ten laps to go kept charging, and as the leading pack battled to finish with enough fuel, he snatched fifth on the final lap to retain third in the championship, despite his nearest championship rivals finishing in the two places ahead of him.

Lucky 7 Racing's Tim Slade, Toll Holden Racing Team's James Courtney, Jim Beam Racing's James Moffat, finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, with Jack Daniels Racing's Todd Kelly and Rick Kelly rounding out the top-ten. Rick Kelly had been on target for third place, but had to pit with just one lap to go for a fuel top up.

The 2011 V8 Supercars season-ending 250km race takes place on Sunday 4 December, with another 20-minute qualifying session beforehand to determine the final grid.

Race 27 results:

Pos Entrant Driver Vehicle Fastest Lap Fastest Lap Time Race Time Laps


1 TeamVodafone Craig Lowndes Commodore VE2 57 01:29:2138 01:59:35:1252 74 150
2 Toll Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Commodore VE2 35 01:29:1052 01:59:36:0066 74 138
3 SP Tools Racing Shane van Gisbergen Falcon FG 7 01:29:2081 01:59:41:9470 74 129
4 Fujitsu Racing GRM Michael Caruso Commodore VE2 57 01:29:1732 01:59:43:3518 74 120
5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon Mark Winterbottom Falcon FG 20 01:28:9053 01:59:45:8350 74 111
6 Lucky 7 Racing Tim Slade Falcon FG 9 01:29:4102 01:59:54:9660 74 102
7 Toll Holden Racing Team James Courtney Commodore VE2 31 01:29:2189 01:59:55:4200 74 96
8 Jim Beam Racing James Moffat Falcon FG 23 01:29:1975 02:00:03:1178 74 90
9 Jack Daniel’s Racing Todd Kelly Commodore VE2 36 01:29:6824 02:00:05:3078 74 84
10 Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly Commodore VE2 19 01:29:1392 02:00:08:7798 74 78
11 Bundaberg Racing Fabian Coulthard Commodore VE2 31 01:30:0276 02:00:14:6852 74 72
12 Irwin Racing Alex Davison Falcon FG 7 01:29:8234 02:00:16:5976 74 69
13 Stratco Racing David Reynolds Commodore VE2 56 01:28:9589 02:00:16:8029 74 66
14 Fujitsu Racing GRM Lee Holdsworth Commodore VE2 20 01:29:0177 02:00:19:7826 74 63
15 Gulf Western Oil Racing Warren Luff Commodore VE2 34 01:30:1581 02:00:21:9197 74 60
16 Pepsi Max Crew Greg Murphy Commodore VE2 60 01:29:3999 02:00:25:5612 74 57
17 Supercheap Auto Racing Russell Ingall Commodore VE2 40 01:29:0360 02:00:29:3696 74 54
18 Jim Beam Racing Steven Johnson Falcon FG 69 01:29:6066 02:00:36:3314 74 51
19 Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing Karl Reindler Commodore VE2 73 01:29:9102 02:00:46:2074 74 48
20 TeamVodafone Jamie Whincup Commodore VE2 54 01:28:4477 02:00:19:9843 68 45
DNF Triple F Racing Dean Fiore Falcon FG 19 01:29:7252 01:58:41:3026 73 0
DNF The Bottle-O Racing Team Paul Dumbrell Falcon FG 40 01:29:3039 01:30:24:0432 50 0
DNF Team BOC Jason Bright Commodore VE2 31 01:29:4041 01:13:22:3226 45 0
DNF VIP Petfoods Steve Owen Commodore VE2 19 01:30:0642 01:14:15:8672 42 0
DNF Wilson Security Team McGrath Tony D’Alberto Falcon FG 32 01:28:9038 01:57:06:2883 36 0
DNF Mother Energy Racing Team Jonathon Webb Falcon FG 32 01:29:4460 01:25:39:4992 34 0
DNF Jana Living Racing Jason Bargwanna Commodore VE2 7 01:30:0273 50:51:4467 29 0
DNF Trading Post FPR Falcon Will Davison Falcon FG 4 01:29:0767 16:26:4711 11 0