Lowndes hints at retirement
Monday 8th May, 2023 - 5:05pm
Supercars legend Craig Lowndes has admitted that this year’s Bathurst 1000 could be his last.
The seven-time Great Race winner will once again drive the Supercheap Auto-sponsored Triple Eight Race Engineering entry at Mount Panorama this October, with Zane Goddard this time forming the youthful half of the wildcard.
Once known as ‘The Kid’, Lowndes is now already four years out of full-time Supercars competition, and will be 49 years of age by the time of September’s Sandown 500, where the #888 Chevrolet Camaro is also set to be in action.
He says future Supercars starts will come down to how he performs this time around.
“It really comes down to seeing how we go performance-wise,” Lowndes told Speedcafe and the Parked Up Plus podcast.
“I think that last year we had some good performance, good speed; this year will be a telling factor.
“One thing I’ve never wanted to do is just drive around for the sake of driving.
“The ego side of me, yeah, I’d love to come back next year and year after that, year after that, but you’ve got to be realistic.
“I see this now as more of what [Peter] Brock did with me in the sense of nurturing me into this category.
“We’ve done the same with Declan [Fraser], hopefully can do the same with Zane, and if there is another opportunity next year and our speed’s good this year, I’ll definitely be talking to Jamie.”
‘Jamie’ is, of course, Triple Eight Team Principal Jamie Whincup, with whom Lowndes shares three of his Bathurst 1000 triumphs.
Whincup was recently confirmed as Broc Feeney’s co-driver in the #88 Red Bull Ampol Racing entry, for a second year in a row, after they finished fifth at Mount Panorama in 2022.
Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander bagged a second win in three years in the sister #97 entry, while Lowndes/Declan Fraser ensured all three Triple Eight cars were in the top 10 as they came eighth in the Supercheap Auto wildcard.
Lowndes arguably remains Supercars’ most popular figure despite several years out of full-time competition, and hence could be an attractive option for other teams if his services were not spoken for by Triple Eight at some point.
When that was put to him, he reiterated that he does not want to stick around for longer than he is competitive.
“Yeah, you’d like to think so and hope so,” said Lowndes of Bathurst 1000 opportunities for as long as he likes.
“But at the end of the day, teams have got to be responsible in some way and they want best for their sponsors.
“As I said, I don’t want to run around just for the sake of running around; I want to actually be competitive and finishing eighth last year was best we could do.
“We had a few little issues with the car but, other than that, it was the best finish for a wildcard, so we’ve already talked to Supercheap that we want to go better than that this year that said something that Zane and I have got to do.”
Whether Goddard undertakes a solo wildcard start prior to Sandown is yet to be confirmed, and similarly for van Gisbergen’s new co-driver, Richie Stanaway, with respect to potential events in Peter Adderton’s Boost Mobile-backed Camaro which Triple Eight is currently building.
The Penrite Oil Sandown 500 takes place on September 15-17 and the Repco Bathurst 1000 on October 5-8.
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