Lowndes: HRT’s last Bathurst 1000 will ‘hit me hard’

Craig Lowndes in the HRT VR Commodore

Craig Lowndes says this year’s final factory-backed effort for Holden in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will hit him hard.

Earlier this year it was announced General Motors would pull out of right-hand-drive markets, bringing the demise of the Holden brand.

While it is expected the Holden ZB Commodore will continue to race in next year’s Supercars Championship, this year’s race will be the last before the Holden brand is closed at the end of this year.

For seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner Lowndes, it’ll be an emotional farewell to the brand.

Of his seven Bathurst 1000 wins, four of them have been with Holden and all three of his Supercars Championship titles were in a Holden too.

Lowndes will join Jamie Whincup at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team alongside Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander.

“The last race for the factory team is going to be devastating for a lot of people,” said Lowndes.

“It’ll hit me hard.

“I grew up following Peter Brock, John Harvey and then Tomas Mezera and wanting to be a driver for the Holden team.

“My dreams came true when I got that opportunity.”

“Bathurst 2020 will be massive, with so many emotions and pressures.

“It would be huge to send off the factory race team with another victory.”

For team-mate Whincup, driving alongside Lowndes is an honour in itself.

In three of his four Bathurst 1000 wins, Whincup has been alongside Lowndes.

The pair went on a three-year streak of wins, claiming the 2006, 2007, and 2008 races for Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Whincup’s last win was with Paul Dumbrell in 2012, but hasn’t been able to break the drought since then.

“My time racing with Lowndesy is limited, and my time as a Supercar driver is limited,” said Whincup.

“Win, lose or draw, it’s always a privilege to race in this series. I cherish every lap.”

General Motors Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina paid tribute to the wider racing community a week out from the crown jewel event.

“Going into the final Holden ‘factory’ Bathurst race together, we want to again thank Triple Eight Race Engineering, and all our wonderful supporters, drivers, engineers, dealers, commercial partners, marketers and everyone who contributed to Holden’s motorsport successes going back to the 48-215 “humpy”, said Aquilina.

“Whilst it’s an emotional time, these people helped make Holden the cultural icon that it is.

“Holden’s motorsport history transcends the track, leaving an indelible mark on Australian and New Zealand life.

“We also want to reassure our 1.6 million Holden owners that Holden will be providing parts and service for at least 10 years.

“Ultimately, our customers and fans made Holden what it is – something we can all be proud of. There will never be another Holden.”

This year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 takes place on October 15-18 at Mount Panorama.

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