Close but no cigar for McLaughlin at Phillip Island
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McLaughlin completes Phillip Island podium with second, Lowndes wins, as Whincup bumps Winterbottom out of third
Craig Lowndes has helped Red Bull Racing Australia claim a sweep of the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint weekend, winning race three after a valiant effort from young Kiwi Scott McLaughlin.
"It's been unbelievable. Congrats to Lowndsie, I drove my heart out and that was all it was. I just got held up a little bit there in the pits, and that was just enough for him to get past me. Hopefully we can carry this on next year," said McLaughlin.
The Volvo pilot looked to control the race after taking the lead of proceedings after the opening cycle of pit stops, but ultimately had the lead snatched off him by Lowndes after their final stop — thanks to a productive middle stint from Lowndes, as well as a shorter final fuel fill.
"As I came onto the main straight, the boys said 'look out for Scotty coming out of pit lane'. I just had to make sure I got him going into turn one, but also make sure that I didn't bugger it up," explained Lowndes.
"We started with our worst set of tyres, and of course we got a terrible start. We just had to knuckle down, focus, and believe that the car was going to be fast, and as the race went on, it definitely was."
Lowndes has momentum on his side heading into the 2015 series decider. Photo / Velocity NZ
The main talking point of the race was the last-lap pass reigning champion Jamie Whincup made on current series leader Mark Winterbottom. Though contact between the pair took place, the move was judged to be legal — Winterbottom circumspect about the move after the race.
"Jamie had a crack. It was a good move," he admitted.
"Went for the big lunge down the inside. I figured that he was going to win the war, so I may as well try and win the battle — good feeling," said Whincup — moments beforehand.
Nissan Motorsport's recent growth in strength was underlined by the two Kellys, Todd and Rick, finishing fifth and sixth respectively after another lean but sporadically promising season.
The next-best Kiwi was Shane van Gisbergen, who finished seventh after a much quieter race than yesterday.
The series now moves to the notorious concrete jungle of Sydney Olympic Park for the final round of the 2015 season, where the series will go down to the wire between Lowndes and Winterbottom.
1. Craig Lowndes
2. Scott McLaughlin
3. Mark Winterbottom
4. Jamie Whincup
5. Todd Kelly
6. Rick Kelly
7. Shane van Gisbergen
8. James Moffat
9. Garth Tander
10. David Reynolds