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Lowndes, Skaife win Bathurst 1000

Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes win at BathurstCraig Lowndes and Mark Skaife won won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, leading home team-mates Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen in a one-two finish for Team Vodafone.

Lowndes and Skaife were strong throughout the race, running consistently in the top five, but it took until lap 117 for them to move to the front for the first time, passing long-time race leaders Lee Holdsworth and David Besnard.

A safety car bunched the field up with just over 25 laps remaining, but a lapped car helped Lowndes to pull clear despite everyone having to watch fuel consumption.

Another safety car when third-placed Will Davison crashed with nine laps remaining then bunched the field up for a sprint to the flag.

With six laps remaining the race restarted, and team-mate Whincup chased Lowndes hard but was not quite close enough to make a move.

In the end, the Team Vodafone team-mates lined up to take the chequered flag in a formation finish, the first one-two at Bathurst since the Holden Dealer Team in 1984.

The win was Skaife's sixth and Lowndes' fifth at the Mountain, Lowndes winning four of the last five Bathurst 1000s after taking three in a row from 2006 to 2008 with team-mate and second-place finisher Whincup. The effort was made even tougher today after a back problem for Skaife meant Lowndes had to do the second half of the race without a break.

Third place was a remarkable result in the end for Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Cameron McConville. Early contact after a poor start left them with minor steering damage, and then at their second pitstop the driver's door fell off (but was speedily reattached).

Tander then raced up from ninth to fourth after the final fuel stop before his team-mate crashed just in front of him.

In the closing laps, he was unable to keep with the Team Vodafone duo but nevertheless it was a remarkable result on the 20th anniversary of the team's first win at Bathurst.

Another fast finishing car was just behind them - Jason Bright and Matt Halliday lurking outside the top 10 for most of the day. But after restarting two places behind Tander at the final pitstop, they made a similar charge up the order to finish just a second off making the podium in fourth place.

Championship leader James Courtney had a bad start to the day - a flapping front splitter costing him time on track and in the pits and dropping him well down the order. But strategy had him just outside the top five at half-distance, on his way to finishing fifth, just ahead of Greg Murphy and Allan Simonsen.

The hard luck story of the day was the Fujitsu Racing Commodore of Holdsworth and Besnard. Taking the lead on lap six, they stayed there for most of the next 110 laps.

But towards the end of that period, they came under serious pressure from Lowndes, eventually relinquishing the lead.

Worse was to follow, having to pit early to replace a delaminating tyre and then having to take a drive-through penalty after speeding in the pits.

Still, they restarted after their final pitstop in fifth but fuel worries cost them another two places over the closing laps.

Pole man Mark Winterbottom had a similarly frustrating day, cruising in the top five early in the before a delaminating tyre for co-driver Luke Youlden put them into the barriers. Remarkably, they ended up with little more than a damaged wheel, and climbed back from 23rd to finish inside the top 10 in ninth place.

The day's most spectacular crash came on lap one when Fabian Coulthard rolled six times after his left rear tyre deflated just as he entered the chase at nearly 300 km/h, but he was quickly out of the car relatively unharmed.

Pos  Drivers                             Make     Time
 1.  Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife           Holden   6h12m51.4153s
 2.  Jamie Whincup/Steve Owen            Holden   +     0.1733s
 3.  Garth Tander/Cameron McConville     Holden   +     1.2496s
 4.  Jason Bright/Matt Halliday          Holden   +     2.3703s
 5.  James Courtney/Warren Luff          Ford     +     6.2001s
 6.  Greg Murphy/Allan Simonsen          Holden   +     7.0830s
 7.  Lee Holdsworth/David Besnard        Holden   +     7.5468s
 8.  Russell Ingall/Paul Morris          Holden   +     9.8712s
 9.  Mark Winterbottom/Luke Youlden      Ford     +    10.7756s
10.  Michael Caruso/Greg Ritter          Holden   +    11.3222s
11.  Steven Richards/James Moffat        Ford     +    12.3593s
12.  Steven Johnson/Marcus Marshall      Ford     +    12.6333s
13.  Alex Davison/David Brabham          Ford     +    17.6993s
14.  Paul Dumbrell/Dean Canto            Ford     +    19.1367s
15.  Karl Reindler/David Wall            Holden   +    19.5268s
16.  Rick Kelly/Owen Kelly               Holden   +    26.1778s
17.  Mark Noske/Nathan Pretty            Holden   +    29.1717s
18.  Tim Slade/Jack Perkins              Ford     +    29.4502s
19.  Jonathon Webb/David Russell         Ford     +  2m17.5414s
20.  Todd Kelly/Dale Wood                Holden   +      1 lap
21.  Shane Van Gisbergen/John McIntyre   Ford     +      3 laps
22.  Tony Ricciardello/Taz Douglas       Holden   +      3 laps
23.  Jason Richards/Andrew Jones         Holden   +      4 laps
24.  Geoff Emery/Markus Zukanovic        Holden   +      5 laps
25.  Andrew Thompson/Ryan Briscoe        Holden   +      7 laps
26.  Damian Assaillit/Ant Pedersen       Ford     +      8 laps

Not classified/retirements:

     Drivers                             Make     Laps
     Will Davison/David Reynolds         Holden    152
     Jason Bargwanna/Glenn Seton         Holden    132
     Dean Fiore/Michael Patrizi          Ford       56
     Tony D'Alberto/Shane Price          Holden     38
     Fabian Coulthard//Craig Baird       Holden      0
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