Sometimes we need to be reminded that there are more than two men in the Supercars title hunt.
Whilst much attention in a tough and tight 2016 Supercars Championship has been directed at the duel between Red Bull Racing team-mates, point’s leader Jamie Whincup and nearest challenger Shane van Gisbergen, there’s one bloke out there who reckons Craig Lowndes shouldn’t be overlooked in the title scrap.
That bloke is the man himself.
Shunning the use of the personal pronoun, Lowndes insists: “We’re still in the hunt. This is great for Triple Eight. The whole aim at the start of the season was to get the three cars into the first three places in the championship.”
Lowndes trails Whincup by 198 points, close enough to put him well within striking distance as the championship chase heads into three crucial enduros – Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and the Gold Coast 600.
Sandown and Bathurst – both single races – nets the winner 300 points. The two Gold Coast races land 150 points apiece for the winner.
So lots to play for.
And huge pressure on co drivers, as Lowndes acknowledges. He’s more than pleased with his Tonto, Steve Richards, who paired with Lowndes last year to win at Bathurst.
“Co-drivers have to have speed, to jump in the car and be immediately fast. To win enduros, you have to have two capable drivers. Steve has had plenty of miles, driving a Porsche and his BMW.
“Steve and I are looking forward to the enduros. He’s driven the car on a number of occasions and likes the way we set it up.“
When prodded into some self-evaluation, the now 42-year-old Lowndes will say his driving today is little different from 17 years ago, when he won the most recent of his three V8 Supercars crowns.
“To be honest, my technique and approach has only changed slightly and mainly to adjust to the evolution of the Supercar and todays’ independent rear end, bigger tyres and brakes.
“I guess I turn in earlier and carry more mid corner speed,” he told Wheels. Then with a laugh: “This hurts me a bit on exit on tight circuits such as Winton.
“But fast and flowing places like Sandown and Bathurst are good for me.”
But Lowndes insists his attitude and thinking hasn’t changed even as he’s matured.
Importantly too his #888 technical director Ludo Lacroix also shares a similar car set-up mentality, a good thing perhaps given the Frenchman’s unique ways with the English language.
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