CRAIG Lowndes’ Enduro Cup hopes have taken a blow after copping a five-place grid penalty during Qualifying for Race 26 at the Gold Coast 600.
Lowndes will start Saturday’s race from 21st on the grid after stewards judged him at fault for an incident with Richie Stanaway.
Several cars started out of sequence, meaning that Stanaway was on a flyer when the Triple Eight and Tekno cars were on their out laps.
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The Tickford car avoided Jack Le Brocq but Lowndes weaved directly into the blue car’s path, the pair making contact.
The stewards handed Lowndes a five-place grid penalty for the incident, compunded by the No.888 aborting its final run and slipping to 16th in the final order.
“There was zero information,” a frustated Lowndes said.
“I was told I was going out with the train and we were all on the same program.
“I was looking in the rear vision mirrors and all I saw was Le Brocq, and then all of a sudden he disappeared and Richie was on the scene.
“I’ll go up and apologise to him. We all talk about traffic around here and I was one of them today unfortunately.”
Lowndes currently leads the Enduro Cup standings with co-driver Steven Richards by 60 points, by dint of their Bathurst 1000 triumph.
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Stanaway didn’t realise Lowndes hadn’t seen him until it was too late.
“I thought he was getting out of the way but he was just warming tyres,” he said.
“By the time I realised, I had too much car speed to pull it up.”
Shane van Gisbergen leads the field into the Top 10 Shootout, setting a time three tenths of a second faster than teammate Jamie Whincup.
David Reynolds, Scott McLaughlin, James Courtney, Fabian Coulthard, last year’s Saturday winner Chaz Mostert, Michael Caruso, Nick Percat and Cam Waters make up the rest of the Shootout field.
Reynolds held sway early in the 20-minute session after the opening flyers before he was pipped by Courtney, who moved the benchmark to a 1m10.706s.
The Red Bull Holdens then leapt to the top of the order, Whincup ahead of van Gisbergen, the former moving the pole time to a 1m10.454s.
Reynolds and McLaughlin joined them with just under 10 minutes to go, splitting the Red Bulls, the first four cars covered by just 0.075 of a second.
The Erebus driver then went one better, a 1m10.422s moving him to the top spot.
With five minutes remaining, the remainder of the top 10 field consisted of Coulthard, Courtney – who’d been on track to challenge Reynolds’ time but lost several tenths in the final sector, an impressive Holdsworth, Kelly, Mostert and Lowndes.
The final flyers with a couple of minutes remaining.
Van Gisbergen was the first to improve, putting three tenths into the field to claim provisional pole.
Whincup also improved over Reynolds, who headed McLaughlin, Courtney, Coulthard and Mostert, while Caruso bumped his way into the Shootout with his final lap.
Percat and Waters made the cut for the 10, while Kelly missed out by 0.012s in 11th, just ahead of Mark Winterbottom.
Holdsworth slipped to 13th after the final runs from Tim Slade and Will Davison in his repaired No.230 Milwaukee Tools Ford.
Lowndes would have been next, but his five-place penalty drops him to 21st on the grid, elevating Anton De Pasquale, Andre Heimgartner, Garth Tander and Scott Pye one position each.
Rounding out the grid for Race 26 are James Golding, Le Brocq, Simona De Silvestro, Stanaway, Todd Hazelwood and Tim Blanchard.
The Top 10 Shootout gets underway at 12:25pm AEDT.