Lowndes guided to Bathurst victory

Ford Triple 888 Racing driver Craig Lowndes ended a 10 year drought to take the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama yesterday, with many believing he was being guided from the heavens by his mentor and Holden hero Peter Brock. During ...

Lowndes guided to Bathurst victory

Ford Triple 888 Racing driver Craig Lowndes ended a 10 year drought to take the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama yesterday, with many believing he was being guided from the heavens by his mentor and Holden hero Peter Brock.

During the memorial tribute to Holden's greatest champion before the Great Race, Lowndes was overcome by emotion after driving Brock's 1972 Bathurst winning Holden Torana around the circuit. The parade was lead by James Brock driving his father's Austin A30, and Brock's eight other record Bathurst winning Holden's were driven by former co-drivers and Greg Murphy.

Lowndes was determined more than any other driver in the field to win the race this year after several incidents last year cost him a podium finish. First he clipped the wall at the top of the mountain while in the lead and towards the end of the race was the victim of a flying tyre which crashed through the windscreen, resulting in him having to pit twice.

This year he drove a faultless race and avoided the carnage which cost the likes of Holden Racing Team Mark Skaife and Jim Richards any chance of another Bathurst victory. Skaife only lasted 500 metres after suffering clutch problems which caused him to drop back through the field and he was ultimately hit from behind by young gun Jack Perkins. The vision displayed on the big screens around the track said it all.

Like Skaife, Paul Radisich bowed out in spectacular fashion after hitting the tyre wall under the Dunlop Bridge at 160 kph after forced wide exiting the Chase, sending photographers scattering and bringing out the safety car, which ventured onto the circuit for a record 10 times, the last after Kiwi Jason Richards crashed for a second time. Fellow Kiwi Greg Murphy who was looking for his fourth Bathurst win after back to back titles in 2003 and 2004 with Rick Kelly was gutted when co-driver Cameron McConville crashed at the Esses.

Lowndes not only had to contend with the safety car but more importantly had the Kelly boys Rick and Todd breathing down his neck and the two Stone Bros Racing outfits driven by James Courtney/Glenn Seton and defending champion Russell Ingall/Luke Youlden, who were intent on ensuring Ford claimed the chequered flag after Holden's dominance.

Despite driving a Ford these days, the majority of Holden fans agreed that Lowndes, once their favourite son, was a deserved winner on the inaugural Peter Brock trophy. No doubt many quietly contemplated why he switched camps in the first place, although on reflection his hero Peter Brock drove a Ford Sierra at one stage, yet was still 'perfect' regardless. Like 'Brocky', Lowndes might one day return to the lion's den.

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