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Lowndes puts record run on the line

Good old days: Craig Lowndes won this event last year ahead of Mark Skaife, but that was when he drove for HRT.

Craig Lowndes is hoping history will repeat itself as the V8 Supercar series reverts to a sprint format

20 Jun 2001

CRAIG Lowndes will be out to defend his perfect Barbagello record when the V8 Supercars line up at the West Australian circuit this weekend.

Ford's ace recruit has won each of the four rounds he has contested in the west, including all 12 races that made up those four rounds, as well as holding the current lap record of 57.995 seconds, set in 1996.

"I really enjoy the circuit and I am pleased to have such a record," Lowndes said.

"I would love to extend that record to 15 races and five rounds if I can, but the competition is getting tougher and tougher." But the record was set when Lowndes was with the crack Holden Racing Team and he is now behind the wheel of a Ford Falcon, battling from 10th position in the drivers' standings to remain in championship contention, 525 points behind leader Mark Skaife.

"In the last few years I have been able to qualify well enough to get to the front and control the pace, which helps you conserve your tyres, and while I am in a different car this weekend, the aim will be to follow that same pattern," Lowndes said "Success in Perth is dependent on having a good set-up for the car. There is no doubt that HRT has a very good set-up for their cars at this track but we are very positive about how the team have adapted to the Falcon, so we are confident we will have a competitive package to tackle them this weekend." If Lowndes does manage to collect a round victory this weekend, he will become the first driver to win at the same circuit four years in a row.

HRT has its own winning streak to maintain as it has claimed every pole position at Barbagello since 1995 and every race win since 1996 - Peter Brock won the round in 1997 when Lowndes was driving in F3000 in Europe.

Local driver Garth Tander has his sights firmly set on ending the success of both Lowndes and HRT, coming off his best performance for the year in Canberra.

"It's great to be heading to my home track on the back of our best result for the year," said the Valvoline Cummins driver.

"We will be pretty confident as our car was the quickest Commodore on the track in Canberra and we were the only ones who managed to split the HRT cars at this track last year." But the Ford teams can be expected to throw out a much stronger challenge to the Holden brigade at this event than in previous seasons, as wins by Ford's young guns - Marcos Ambrose and Steven Johnson - at the past two meetings have put the Blue Oval on the verge of its first hat-trick of round wins since 1995.

Ford Tickford driver Steven Richards has also been performing well, scoring the team's first race win of the year in Canberra two weeks ago.

John Bowe drove his new CAT racing Falcon to a strong finish in that event while Paul Radisich showed flashes of his breathtaking speed in the Shell Helix entry, with both drivers scoring plenty of points on the street circuit to boost their confidence heading into this round.

The Barbagello event is the first of two rounds to run with last years three-race sprint format - each race is a 20-lap dash - the other being the next round at Calder Park.

Barbagello Raceway is 35km north of Perth, at Wanneroo. The 2.415km circuit was first opened in 1969 and is the only permanent motor racing venue in Western Australia.

The schedule for Round 6 is: Saturday
Provisional qualifying 12.45-1.40pm
Top Ten Shootout 1.50pm-2.20pm
Race 1 (20 laps) 4.00pm Sunday
Race 2 (20 laps) 11.00am
Race 3 (20 laps) 1.00pm DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Skaife (HRT) 1360
2 Bright (HRT) 1348
3 Johnson (Shell Ford) 1082
4 Ingall (Castrol Holden) 1079
5 Ambrose (Pirtek Ford) 986
6 Richards (Tickford Ford) 929
7 Murphy (K-Mart Holden) 912
8 Seton (Tickford Ford) 900
9 Kelly (K-Mart Holden) 858
10 Lowndes (Gibson Ford) 835

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