Title fight goes to Sydney

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

The 2015 V8 Supercars Championship will be decided at next month’s Coates Hire Sydney 500 after another masterful performance by Craig Lowndes at the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint.

Lowndes capped off a sensational weekend with another win in today’s 200 km race, narrowing the gap to Championship leader Mark Winterbottom to 179 points with just one stop remaining.

With Scott McLaughlin producing his best allround effort of the season, he joins fellow Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Fabian Coulthard in the top eight in the championship.

McLaughlin enjoyed three podiums over the three races at Phillip island, including second behind Lowndes today, which elevates him to eighth overall in the championship.

“It’s been unbelievable. Congratulations to Lowndsey. I drove my heart out. It was just enough for him to get past me. It was unfortunate that we just got held up a little bit coming out of the pits and I reckon that. It’s great to see we have got some pace and hopefully we can carry this on next year,” McLaughlin said.

Shane van Gisbergen, docked 25 points for a controversial incident with championship contender David Reynolds on Saturday, had three top-10s to remain in fifth place overall and only 17 points behind Garth Tander in fourth while Fabian Coulthard wajust outside the top-10 in all three races to remain sixth overall.

Super Black Racing opted to test Australian-based Kiwi Chris Pither, who enjoyed 19th placing in the 200km race today, his best of the weekend.

“After yesterday I was hoping to get it (the points gap) down to the 150 to 170 mark,” Lowndes said.

“With the speed that both our cars had, as long as we qualified well, which we did, we could race extremely well, which we did.”

While he has narrowed the gap this weekend, down from 240 at the beginning of the weekend, Lowndes still firmly believes that Winterbottom has the upper hand.

“It really is a Championship for Frosty to lose,” Lowndes said.

“With a 179 point lead, as long as he drives smart and clean and keeps out of trouble they should have enough of a points gap to walk away with that number one.

“But we won’t stop fighting until the chequered flag on Sunday.”

Winterbottom finished fourth today after being passed on the final lap by reigning Champion Jamie Whincup. Whilst the move looked controversial, Whincup was unapologetic.

“I figured there’s a good chance he’s going to win the war, so I’ll try to win the battle,” Whincup said.

“It’s motor racing. We’re racing. No one paid to come in today to see cars circulating or people helping each other out.

“We’re here to race. It was a big opportunity to get a podium. Podiums are huge in our sport, so I give it absolutely everything and it was a fair move down the inside.”

Winterbottom agreed with Whincup’s assessment, saying that their racing was hard, but fair.

“It was a good move,” said Winterbottom.

“I wasn’t quick enough. It (the car) was good in qualifying, but in the race I was fourth quickest.

“We just have to work on getting speed back. I’m glad we have that points gap, because those Red Bull boys are quick.”

Scott McLaughlin also completed a strong weekend to finish second behind Lowndes to move into eighth place on the Championship table.

David Reynolds hopes of pinching the Championship ended after he finished tenth today, opening the way for a showdown between Lowndes and Winterbottom at Sydney Olympic Park on December 4-6.

With 300 points up for grabs in Sydney, Lowndes can still win his fourth Championship, as Winterbottom looks to secure his first ever title.

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