Home away from home

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/04/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Craig Lowndes has detailed the difficulties for a driver living away from their race team, and listed it as one of the reasons he decided to leave the Holden Racing Team at the end of the 2000 season. 

Speaking on Inside Supercars this evening, the 41-year old veteran added to the conversation of what is important to drivers when considering contracts and options for their future.

Having been at Triple Eight 11 years, Lowndes has shown loyalty but also made career-defining decisions and shifted teams – and manufacturers – when he felt he needed to.

His departure from HRT made huge headlines, particularly given he jumped ship to Ford back when the red versus blue division was intense.  

“My situation with the HRT thing – I was living in Queensland,” Lowndes said on the Inside Supercars panel.

“Things change and you have the loyalty, but you’ve also got to look at where is best for you as a driver in a sense of winning races, championships, where you live and everything else.”

James Courtney is one of the big names off-contract this season and Lowndes used him as an example.

“You bought up James Courtney – he lives on the Gold Coast but drives for a Victorian-based team.

“From my experience, that strain and distance apart must somewhere along the line become too much of a strain.

“You really need to be in the garage, you need to be in the workshop, you need to be hands on, understanding the craft and what’s going on.

“If there’s a new component the team are working on you want to be in there, you want to be able to touch, see, feel, smell, all that stuff – so I’ve learnt.”

Lowndes’ comments followed a sneaky line from Ingall about his good friend Courtney, the driver ‘The Enforcer’ replaced in the enduros last year: “We’ve got James Courtney coming up to his sixth season with HRT – not sure there’s going to be a seventh season to be quite honest, I think relationships are getting a bit strained there.”

While discussions about the silly season have focused around Scott McLaughlin and Scott Pye, both HRT’s Courtney and Garth Tander are off-contract at the end of the season, adding another layer of complexity to the talks.

It is soon for these discussions to emerge, but it seems to happen earlier each season with Triple Eight confirming its plans and announcing Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen for 2016 after just the first championship event last year.

Lowndes has moved around a little in his 20-year V8 Supercars career, having raced with HRT, Gibson/00 Motorsport, FPR and now Triple Eight. Team owner Roland Dane says he is hopeful Lowndes will see out the rest of his racing days with the team.

“This is my 11th year with Triple Eight,” the TeamVortex driver said. 

“When you’ve got a team and – like Frosty – you’ve got a great grounding and a group of people you’re very comfortable working with, you don’t really want to go outside,” Lowndes said.

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