Change a ‘new lease of life’ for Lowndes
After breaking a 10 month V8 Supercars victory drought at Symmons Plains, Craig Lowndes says that working with new race engineer Grant McPherson has re-energised his storied career.
In just the third weekend working with McPherson following the engineer’s high profile defection from arch rivals Prodrive, Lowndes proved the dominant force at the Tasmanian venue.
The 40-year-old scored three pole positions and two races wins before driving from last to sixth after a mistake had triggered a drive-through penalty in the final.
Lowndes had spent seven seasons with previous engineer Jeromy Moore in one of the longest running driver/engineer partnerships in the category’s history.
Although Lowndes had been happy to continue the combination before the highly respected Moore opted for new challenges overseas, the driver now says McPherson’s input has freshened his fortunes.
“We’re not miles away from where we were last year but Shippy (McPherson) is bringing fresh ideas and just a different way of looking at it,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com.
“Any problem can be addressed in multiple ways and sometimes that way he looks at something is different to what JJ (Moore) has done before.
“He communicates differently to what JJ did as well and I think all that has given us a new lease on life.
“We’ve now proven that the way Shippy operates and the way he likes to look at the cars works for me and our package.
“In terms of the actual spring rates, roll-centres, dampers, ride heights, camber, caster and all of that we’re not far away but it’s just about finding the combination and how you get there.
“I think we genuinely found some good and promising steps forward over the weekend that will translate to other circuits.”
Lowndes recently confirmed a new two-year deal with Triple Eight, which will extend his tenure with the squad to 13 seasons.
His strong Symmons Plains form comes as the team works on a commercial package for Lowndes’ car next season.
New signing Shane van Gisbergen is expected to join Whincup in the colours of Red Bull, which has also signed a fresh agreement with the team.
All three drivers, including the currently Tekno Autosports mounted Van Gisbergen, sit in the current championship’s top five after six races.
Six-time champion Whincup’s race victory on Sunday saw him sweep from fourth to first in the standings, passing Lowndes in the process.
Lowndes, who won the most recent of his own three championships in 1999, says he’s looking forward to another season long battle with a variety of contenders.
“There was no doubt that Jamie was always going to bounce back, it was just a matter of where and when,” said Lowndes of the points picture.
“He struggled with the car all weekend but he’s very determined and made the best of a bad situation, which he’s clearly very good at doing.
“There’s no doubt that he’s strong but there’s (James) Courtney, FPR (Prodrive), Shane and a few others with a lot of speed there as well. It’s going to be a good fight.”