10 October 2009
Tander claims Bathurst pole
A mere 161 laps and 1000km at an average speed of 178km/h separate TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup from history at one of the world's greatest touring car races, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at a daunting Mount Panorama.
But Lowndes doesn't want to hear about the possibilities before he and Whincup go for four straight victories around the nail biting circuit, especially after being pipped to pole by Whincup's title rival Garth Tander and the potent Toll HRT Holden.
“We are aware of what (history) we can create,” Lowndes admitted, “It's 161 laps, it's a long day. If we are in a position to win it, I'm sure we will try our best, but we are not worried about trying to re-create history. No doubt it will come down to the last 15 or 20 laps and there will be four or five cars in it.”
Lowndes and Whincup will start from the front of the grid next to arch-rival - and arch-enemy - Toll Holden Racing Team after an ice-cool Tander slotted his Commodore onto the Armor All pole position with a cracking Top Ten Hoot-out lap this afternoon.
Second last out onto the circuit, Tander's lap was almost seamless. He was 0.1secs quicker than anyone over the first sector, and had increased that to 0.3secs at the end of the second sector, before a small lock-up at the Chase cost him a little time. Nevertheless, the 2min 07.9463secs lap time was still good enough for the top spot.
The Vodafone duo will be mindful, however, that Tander did the same thing last year - and stalled on the grid. This year, the veteran won't have to worry as team-mate Will Davison has the starting duties.
“There are no demons from last year to worry about,” Tander smiled, "To be honest, I'm glad [qualifying] is over and done with, and we can concentrate on tomorrow. Will's going to start, so we can press on for 161 laps.
“That was a really hard lap to do because of the weather, how it changed the track. I didn't know if the track was going to grip up or lose grip – for our car it lost grip. Across the top, there were a couple of small slides, into and exiting the Dipper, so I was pretty cautious across the top. Then, the split on my dash out of Forrest's Elbow wasn't as strong as I would have liked, so I went in a little deep at the Chase and it grabbed the right front. It was a little messy through the apex, but seemed to get out of there okay and the run down to the last corner was quite good. I didn't know whether it was going to be good enough, so when the boys said P1 with Jason [Richards] still to go, I was pretty happy with front row."
Lowndes set a time of 2min 08.2231secs on a drying track, after a deluge early in the afternoon almost produced a wet shootout, making a little error as he negotiated the 6.2km circuit in difficult conditions. Despite that, however, he was the biggest mover in the shootout, gaining four places on his initial qualifying result.
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