Lowndes move could trigger Dumbrell enduro exit
Paul Dumbrell could call time on his Supercar enduro career should Craig Lowndes replace him as Jamie Whincup’s co-driver but says that no discussions have yet taken place.
Lowndes’ retirement announcement on the opening day of the Watpac Townsville 400 weekend not only shocked the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship but will also have a ripple effect for prospective Pirtek Enduro Cup co-drivers.
Dumbrell has indicated to Speedcafe.com that he would not seek a co-driver seat away from Triple Eight Race Engineering, where he has partnered Whincup since also stepping down from full-time competition.
They won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in their first campaign together in 2012 and came agonisingly close to another in each of the subsequent four editions of The Great Race.
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Whincup’s other three Bathurst wins have come with Lowndes in a ‘three-peat’ from 2006 to 2008, when teams were allowed to pair primary drivers.
Complicating matters is the uncertainty over Triple Eight’s structure from next year.
He has not, however, ruled out continuing to run a third car or, theoretically, even adding a fourth.
Dumbrell says that no discussions have yet taken place regarding a co-driver role for him next year.
“No, it’s just the same discussion that we had five years ago, so we have it every year,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“The team has to have the best co-drivers on the market and I think most years we’ve actually had the top three or four co-drivers in the team but things change, so we’ll just play it by ear.
“It’s about 15 months away until the first endurance (race) next year, so we’ll get through the next three or four months and we’ll make a call.
“I’m all very happy with whatever we do as a team, we have to put ourselves in the best position to win, and DJR Team Penske are doing a pretty damn good job so we’ve got to make sure we do whatever we can to put our best foot forward.”
The 35-year-old became a minor shareholder of Triple Eight in 2015 but says that he has “zero” input in co-driver appointments, which are made by Dane and team manager Mark Dutton.
If there was no seat at the Banyo squad for the Bathurst winner and two-time Dunlop Super2 Series winner, Dumbrell’s tenure in the enduros would likely come to an end.
“I wouldn’t think so, no, I wouldn’t think so,” he replied when asked if he would seek a co-drive at another team.
“I’m at the end of my career, I’m at the tail end, and I think this might be my 20th Bathurst this year.
“I’ve ticked a lot of boxes, I go there every year, and to the enduro championship, to help Jamie win the (drivers’) championship.
“If that requires us to finish fourth in every race and not stand on the podium, I would rather take that and Jamie win the championship than us stand on top step of any of the podiums.
“Thankfully, it’s worked in our favour I think all bar two years of us being in a co-driver campaign, but I’ve got no issues with that.”
Dumbrell will again drive with Whincup when the Enduro Cup begins at the Rabble.Club Sandown 500 on September 14-16.
Earl Bamber is set for his Supercars debut partnering van Gisbergen after 2017 co-driver Matt Campbell’s program rendered him unavailable for all three events.
Lowndes and Steven Richards continue for a fifth year together in the Autobarn Lowndes Racing entry, a pairing which lofted the Peter Brock Trophy in 2015.
Dumbrell, meanwhile, leads the Super2 Series by 136 points after Round 4 of seven in Townsville.
Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell in enduros
|Sandown 500||Bathurst 1000||GC600||Pirtek Enduro Cup|
* International co-drivers
** Enduro Cup introduced 2013