V8 Supercars – Skaife & Lowndes Repeat Dose At L&H 500

September 16, 2011

V8 Supercars

V8 Supercar part-timer Mark Skaife  has knocked the critics with a perfect warm-up for the weekend’s prestigious  L&H 500 that he is defending with Craig Lowndes.

 

The TeamVodafone pair are at short  odds to repeat their victory at the spectacular Phillip Island Grand Prix  Circuit, the second favourite venue of both multiple Championship  winners.

 

Skaife was the fastest of the  co-drivers today and Lowndes the best of the full-timers. Critics suggesting  Skaife is riding on the coat tails of Lowndes were silenced and surprised he  came out of the box so well against fulltime racers.

 

They took the ‘Friday Grand Prix’ from team-mates Jamie Whincup and Andrew Thompson, ahead of Stratco Racing young  guns David Reynolds and Tim Blanchard.

 

“I’m fitter than I’ve been in a long  time and far better prepared than I was last year,” Skaife  said.

 

“We have been going through a  detailed program in the last few months to get ready for this. It’s a big ask  for any driver to come in for two races, it’s a little like Nathan Buckley  making a comeback for a grand final.

 

“I’m not for a second thinking that  last year’s result immediately puts us in contention. We are coming into the two  hardest races of the year and arguably the two most challenging tracks here and  in the world. Anything can happen.

 

“What I’m focusing on is enjoying  what I am doing over the weekend. It’s also an absolute pleasure to drive for  the number one team in the country right at the moment.”

 

Lowndes is at the moment the  undisputed king of Phillip Island and Bathurst after his feats of last year in  winning both endurance events. He is also the closest he has been to the  Championship lead in recent years.

 

“We are as comfortable as possible  at the moment,” Lowndes said. “We are doing the best we can but it is after all  only the very early stages.”

 

Whincup was again his own hardest  taskmaster despite finishing second by just .3 of a second with his team-mate  Thompson.

 

“We have a lot of work to do to make  sure we are strong tomorrow. We’ve just got to make sure we are on our  game.”

 

Former Formula Ford champions  Reynolds and Blanchard were just shy of the fastest time of the day set by  TeamVodafone’s combination.

 

“I’m actually surprised to be here  in the top three,” admitted Reynolds at the end of day media  conference.

 

“I think it was just circumstantial  that all the oil went down and I put my green set of tyres on earlier than  others. I didn’t expect to be here … I thought I’d be 18th or  20th.”

 

“Honestly, the car was facing the  fence most of the lap. It didn’t feel that fast.”

 

Ford Performance Racing’s Mark  Winterbottom suffered an unusual practice set-back after running into a stray  hare in the last session, causing significant damage to the front end of his  Orrcon Steel Falcon.

 

Brabham/Alex Davison recovered to  finish 23rd but Winterbottom/Richards did not take any further part in the  session, finishing 28th.

 

The field will undertake two more  practice sessions tomorrow morning, ahead of the Qualifying and Grid Sprints to  determine the starting order for Sunday’s L&H 500 Phillip  Island.

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