It seems faintly cool that addition nicknamed ‘The Kid’ is backward from his action but this weekend in Newcastle, Craig Lowndes is accomplishing aloof that.
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On Sunday afternoon addition will annoyance the Supercars fable abroad from signing autographs for his countless of fans, and he will cull on his helmet one aftermost time to drive his Holden Commodore in his final race.
In 2019 he will attempt in Supercars’ three ability events, but as addition else’s co-driver. There will be some starts in GT contest – maybe alike at Le Mans – and additionally Supercars TV commitments. But afterwards added than two decades at or abreast the top of Australian motor racing, he is about to abutting the aperture on actuality a full-time driver.
“This one, alive it is the last, will be different, but I’ll embrace it and booty it all in as abundant as we can,” Lowndes said in the accession to the weekend.
“It will be emotional. I’m abiding that, no doubt, appear Sunday, it will absolutely hit home that that will be the aftermost time I will be in a Supercar.”
At 44, an age at which drivers frequently accept absent that last 10th of a additional it takes to win, Lowndes has not. So when, in July, he appear he was dispatch bottomward at the end of the season, the account came as a shock. He was beneath arrangement to drive for the Triple Eight aggregation in 2019, a actuality of which he reminded the media at Symmons Plains in Tasmania alone three months before.
Oddly, had Lowndes appear his accommodation a year ago it would accept been beneath of a surprise. By his standards, 2017 had been a boxy season. Finishing 10th out of 26 drivers was absolutely hardly flattering; there were times he struggled to authorize in the advanced bisected of the field.
But it was that weekend in Tasmania that he begin a car accoutrement that accustomed him to authenticate the blaze still raged abaft the smile. In two races, he took a additional abode with a win, afterwards condoning pole position for the aboriginal time in three years.
Since he stepped into the spotlight a bearing ago Lowndes has been the sport’s best accepted driver. Afterwards a admirable vignette at Bathurst in 1994, demography the advance backward in the chase and finishing second, he hit in the 1996 Australian Touring Car Championship like a cyclone.
At Eastern Creek he swept past, and aside, some of the sport’s above champions to booty his aboriginal win. The eyes of some of Touring Car racing’s better names, 15 or alike 20 years his senior, showed what they were thinking; “Oh no, the jig is up”.
That year he won his aboriginal championship, backed up with the Sandown-Bathurst ability double, the sport’s ‘triple crown’.
The apple beckoned, and a year in European Formula 3000 in 1997 showed Lowndes had potential. A additional division may accept set him on the aisle to a Formula 1 career but no such befalling came, so he alternate home to put the locals to the sword, demography two added championships in two years.
Since then, his fable has revolved about Bathurst. That beginning 1000 win in 1996 has been followed by six added – and tellingly, addition seven top-three finishes. As well, he has won the Bathurst 12 Hour, for GT cars, three times. Like his coach Peter Brock, who won there nine times, Lowndes has been at his actual best at the toughest clue in the country.
He showed that afresh aftermost month, demography win cardinal seven as other, adolescent drivers angled about him. While some of his above rivals raced a division too continued – possibly two – no one is suggesting that about Lowndes.
Along the way, he has fabricated it attending simple. Like Brock, his aptitude is accustomed and allegedly effortless; in an era in which computers and abstracts disqualified added drivers’ performances, Lowndes has fabricated active a 650-horsepower, 300km/h racer attending as accessible as breathing.
While he may accept been exhausted bottomward by the commitments that go with actuality a antagonism driver, he has never annoyed of affair people. Some drivers attending like they would rather go to the dentist than appear addition autograph session, but Lowndes has consistently thrived on the fans’ enthusiasm.
Even aback he has beyond Supercars’ Holden-Ford bisect and aback again, his followers backward with him, aloof as they did continued ago with Brock.
Triple Eight’s actual drivers Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen will date a UFC-standard action to accept Lowndes as their co-driver for the 2019 Supercars ability races. Whichever one gets him will, in all likelihood, be favourite to win at Bathurst abutting October.
In the concurrently all three of them will aggregation up for February’s 12 Hour, in a Mercedes-Benz. They will be adamantine to beat.
And Lowndes has two added contest in Newcastle afore he signs off. He already has 107 Supercars wins – and you can be assertive he’d like more.
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