TeamVodafone V8 Supercars star Craig Lowndes will return to the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS when the Australian GT Championship heads to Phillip Island in late September.
The 38-year-old has competed with Audi’s factory effort at the last two Bathurst 12 Hour races, but is yet to race in the GT Championship.
He will drive one of five Melbourne Performance Centre-prepared R8s at the Shannons Nationals event.
“I am very pleased to be stepping back aboard an Audi R8 LMS again, and particularly at a track like Phillip Island,” said Lowndes.
“I’ve enjoyed my two outings with the factory Audi team at Bathurst in the 12-Hour but have yet to win in the car, so hopefully Phillip Island will give me the chance.
“The guys at Melbourne Performance Centre have been involved with the factory cars all the way, so I expect we will be very competitive again. I am looking forward to it.”
Lowndes’ entry utilises one of the two cars left in the country following this year’s Phoenix Racing Bathurst assault, and will run in the same One World Bar livery that proprietor Rod Salmon has competed with this season.
While the deal is a one-off, MPC owner Troy Russell has expressed his desire to see Lowndes join the team for a full campaign next year.
“Our aim is for this to be an ongoing program,” said Russell.
“Craig obviously has V8 Supercar commitments, and we’re thankful to Triple Eight for releasing him for the Phillip Island weekend, but … for us this is just the start. We’d like to have a professional driver in the car alongside our current team at every round in 2013.”
MPC is the Australian agent for Audi’s global customer GT program, and is likely to spearhead the marque’s attack on the 2013 Bathurst 12 Hour in the expected absence of an international Audi presence.