Craig Lowndes has praised his team led by engineer Ludo Lacroix after his win at Queensland Raceway, despite being plagued with radio problems during the race.
Lowndes flew off the startline and controlled the 200km sprint at one of his most successful circuits on the calendar ahead of Jamie Whincup, but had dramas communicating with his team.
“We had some radio issue throughout the race,” Lowndes said. “I got every second word – which was probably a good thing!
“But he (Lacroix) is always thinking, he is always trying to figure how we can go faster, obviously.”
Linking Lacroix, the team’s technical mastermind and Lowndes in the newly formed TeamVortex garage has proved another smart move by Triple Eight boss Roland Dane. Lacroix makes big calls and Lowndes plays along with unorthodox strategies – like calling off a last flying run in qualifying today to save a set of soft tyres, and pitting for a fresh set of tyres against the field in Perth, which earned Lowndes’ first race win of the year.
Again Lowndes emphasised how important his engineer was in the victory – the the team dressed Lacroix as a genie in a recent video, and that interpretation may not be too far off.
“After the second run on the new tyre, obviously we went a little bit faster. I didn’t think there was much left in the car but I didn’t tell him that and he made the call to say we will sit and wait now,” Lowndes said of qualifying.
“He believed the tyre – whether he licks the ground, I don’t know what he does – but he believed that the track was going to get slower from there on in. A couple of guys progressed up but luckily for Jamie and I, we were on the front row.
“It was a good call – it was gutsy, it could have easily gone backwards four or five rows as well.”
It hasn’t always paid off for the pair – but today the qualifying call was a key part of the win, paired with Lowndes’ great start.
“In Townsville I think we went too far with the choice of what we were going to do with set-up for the race, but live and learn," he said.
“As I said he is very passionate about keeping improving the car. He had an idea of what he wanted to do for race car set-up, he did do it and it did work … it’s great to have that sort of passionate person in the garage.
“Irish [John McGregor] the up-and-coming engineer in the team, has learnt a lot – there is a lot of discussions between the two. Ludo is referring to him a lot more now, which is great and gives Irish an opportunity to have his two bobs worth, which at times is valuable.”
Lowndes revealed he has had to change his driving style a little to play along – but a focus on improving qualifying has been key for him this year.
“I’ve had to also change my driving style slightly to suit – obviously looking after the tyre and maximising qualifying, which has been one of my weaker points in my career.
“So we are trying to sharpen that up as well and again it’s coming from the guys who are passionate.”