Craig Lowndes (CAT Ford Performance Racing) steered his way from 15th on the grid to a runner-up finish in a rain-soaked second round of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship at Sydney's Eastern Creek last weekend, which will be presented by Ford in High Octane Motorsport on Supersport.

21-year-old Rick Kelly, who showed experience beyond his years as other leading drivers struggled in multiple rainstorms, including one that ended the race ten laps early, won the race.

Lowndes' result repeated his effort of last year when he finished behind Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing Ford).

In a race that featured five safety cars, including one for the start, fortunes fluctuated between many of the teams.

Lowndes made his way through the field during the safety car periods, as he was able to get the most of re-starts to make up positions.

The final run saw him pass three cars, including Garth Tander just one lap before the final safety car.

Following a horror weekend in Adelaide where he failed to score any points, second place at Eastern Creek has elevated him to 16th in the championship.

“Huge result for us, I'm pleased for myself and the boys who have worked non-stop to get things turned around,” said Lowndes.

“Next up we go across to Pukekohe in New Zealand, and we could get more of the same unpredictable weather. I'm sure this championship has more twists and turns to come.”

Reigning Australian V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing Ford) finished seventh and is now 12 points behind Steven Richards in the title chase.

Ambrose led from pole position, but during the round of pit stops Rick Kelly took up the challenge. Ambrose battled with Mark Skaife before running wide and slipped down the order.

It was a philosophical Ambrose who said the very wet conditions forced him to be somewhat conservative.

“It was not easy and there were many times I saved the car from going off the road,” said Ambrose. “It was good to get a top-10, and although we've slipped to second in the championship it's still very close.

Other notable performances came from Steve Johnson (Shell Helix Ford) who claimed sixth and Jason Bargwanna (Orrcon Steel Racing Ford) who finished in eighth and now sits fifth in the championship.

The Australian V8 Supercar Championship now boards the boat for the trip across the Tasman for the V8 International at Pukekohe from April 30 - May 2.

Top-10 result - Eastern Creek

1. Rick Kelly - KMart Racing - Holden

2. Craig Lowndes - CAT Ford Performance Racing - Ford Falcon BA

3. Garth Tander - Valvoline Cummins Racing -

4. Steven Richards - Castrol Perkins Motorsport - Holden

5. Greg Murphy - KMart Racing - Holden

6. Steven Johnson - Shell Helix Racing - Ford Falcon BA

7. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Racing - Ford Falcon BA

8. Jason Bargwanna - Orrcon Steel Racing - Ford Falcon BA

9. Craig Baird - Team Kiwi Racing - Holden

10.Max Wilson - Team Betta Electrical - Ford Falcon BA

Highlights of the Eastern Creek round of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship…presented by Ford will be broadcast in High Octane Motorsport on Supersport on April 27, 2004.

Original article from Car