Lowndes keeps cool to take win

Holden struck the first blow in its last-weekend battle with fierce rival Ford when veteran Craig Lowndes weaved his way to victory at the Sydney 500 V8 Supercars event yesterday.

The 38-year-old started from 16th on the grid and dropped back to 22nd at the end of lap 1, but recovered to claim his 89th career win and move to second in the championship.

In sweltering heat, Lowndes sped to win the 250-kilometre race by just 1.105 seconds ahead of Ford driver and pole sitter Tim Slade, with Holden's James Courtney more than 20 seconds further back in third.

Lowndes climbed above Ford's Mark Winterbottom by three points in the overall standings and became the only repeat winner in the fourth year of the event.

Lowndes later paid tribute to champion-in-waiting Jamie Whincup, who was good to his pre-race promise to help out his fellow TeamVodafone pilot.

"Jamie basically gave me the win in the sense that for the last pit stop, he moved over and let me through," Lowndes said.

"Otherwise we would've been queuing and we would've been back in the pack."

"It was the scenario we talked about as we were very mindful of trying to get the one-two in the championship."

After claiming his first pole position in his fourth season, Slade led for a majority of the race but ran wide in the late stages to hand Lowndes a lead he would not relinquish.

"I'm kicking myself a little bit for throwing it away there at the end," Slade said.

"It's hard to be in front and saving fuel and get all your markers right every lap ... (but) I'm pretty stoked."

Temperatures of 38 degrees and the tight 3.42km Sydney Olympic Park street circuit combined to take a toll on the field as seven drivers failed to finish in a drama-filled race.

With the mercury getting up to 65 degrees in the car cabins, Frenchman Alex Premat was dragged limp from his car three- quarters of the way through because of severe dehydration and David Reynolds was forced to make a bizarre pit stop.

While the safety car was out, the Ford driver took the opportunity to change his driving boots after the excessive heat burnt a hole in his soles.

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