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Sep 22, 2012

LOWNDES CONTINUES WINNING WAYS IN ONE HOUR GT THRILLER

CRAIG LOWNDES is a winner again, taking out the opening race in the Australian GT Championship’s round at this weekend’s Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils event at Phillip Island.

Just a week after winning the Sandown 500, Lowndes held out international GT ace Maro Engel in a thrilling finish to today’s one-hour Australian GT race, taking his Audi R8LMS to victory – his first in a GT car.

Lowndes’ emerged in the lead of the race following the compulsory pit stops and then saw a five-second lead whittled down by Engel, driving a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG.

Lowndes, however, was up to the challenge and traded laps under the old lap record in his battle with the German driver and car combination before eventually holding on to win by just over one second.

Engel finished second – and takes the new Phillip Island Lap Record – with title contender Peter Hackett in third.

Allan Simonsen erupted into the lead early, however was penalised for jumping the start and forced to serve a drive-through penalty for his effort.

Josh Hunter raced his way to the front in today’s Kumho Australian V8 Touring Car Series race – rebounding after a series of tough rounds recently.

After a frustrating qualifying session saw him complete just three laps – yet still qualify fourth – Hunter picked off his rivals one after another in today’s eight-lap race to record an important victory.

With title rival Jim Pollicina only managing fourth, Hunter’s result closed up the championship battle at the top of the standings.

Morgan Haber scored pole but it was Tony Evangelou who led the race from the first lap, Hunter running wide at the hairpin when he attempted to pass the ex-FPR Ford, newly resplendent in its original CAT livery.

Hunter took the advantage and then passed Evangelou for the lead on the penultimate lap before taking the win, whilst polesitter Haber ended up buried in the turn one gravel trap on the last lap after his right front tyre failed, thanks to his earlier lockup whilst trying to pass for the lead.

The Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Cars will return for another two races tomorrow.

Kane Rose sealed his title deal in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia, taking out race one of the series’ final round of the year today with a strong performance.

Racing a borrowed car, Rose erupted into an early lead and was in the right place when an early crash – involving four of the top eight runners – took out several contenders early in the race.

From there he only had to hold on to take the race win and wrap up the series in the process.

Michael Almond was second and John Morriss third, his first GT3 Cup Challenge podium.

Chris Gilmour won the opening Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship race today, after polesitter James Winslow was penalised for overlapping on a race restart.

Gilmour led early, but was under attack from Winslow when the race resumed after an early safety car.

Winslow drew alongside as they crossed the control line, was judged to have overlapped and as a result was penalised for the infraction.

Steel Guiliana finished second and Hayden Cooper third.

Semi regular national series runner Gavin Ross will start from pole position for the first of three races in round five of the Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series tomorrow after qualifying fastest today.

His best lap was a 1min 49.7167secs effort, only eighths of a second faster than points leader Simon Tabinor while another part-time national series runner Travis Lindorff was third. Best of the Fords was the Falcon AU of Andy Nowland with the four Victorians showing the way to two West Australian Commodores, those of Nathan Callaghan and Garry Hills.

In the Radical Australia Cup 50-minunte enduro, Neale Muston broke through for his first endurance race win outside of his home turf (Sydney Motorsport Park) by taking out today’s race.

Muston, the series leader, held out Peter Johnston and Tony Palmer to take the win and extend his points margin at the top of the standings.

The Radical Australia Cup will return for a further 50-minute race tomorrow.

Tomorrows action will be broadcast live on the internet, via www.thenationals.com.au