Lowndes opens up about Sydney 500 crash

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 12/04/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

After talking about his incredible comeback race in Adelaide in 1999 with v8supercars.com.au, Craig Lowndes has opened up about another one of the toughest races of his career.

While explaining his phenomenal drive from the back of the grid 16 years ago, Lowndes likened what he'd called his toughest race at the time to the difficulty of last year's Sydney 500 - though the circumstances were reasonably different.

Back in December, his teammate Jamie Whincup had the 2014 title stitched up before the Sydney street race. Lowndes was in the running for second, which would have been the fourth consecutive 1-2 drivers' championship finish for Red Bull Racing Australia.

But a heavy crash in the weekend's first qualifying session meant the team had to scramble to fix the Holden Commodore - with even Whincup pitching in.

The car was ready in time, but it was Lowndes' 'damage' that ultimately held him back from putting in the performance he had expected of himself that weekend, falling to fourth in the Championship, his lowest result since 2010.

He admitted he'd hope the car couldn't be repaired after the accident, to save him from driving the car around the treacherous Sydney circuit for the two days.

"I didn't know it at the time, but now knowing I had a couple of cracked ribs ... to mentally get focused to get back in the car, knowing I was really sore and had to go through qualifying again on Sunday, had to race on Saturday and back it up again on Sunday - that for me, was a very tough weekend," Lowndes told v8supercars.com.au.

"There was a point there that, to be honest, I was hoping the boys would say the car was too badly damaged. But again a credit to them, they put the car back together so I had to get back in the car."

Being unable to perform to the best of his ability, particularly after so much effort had gone into piecing the #888 Holden Commodore back together was the worst part for Lowndes.

"[It was tough] just to circulate, and knowing the car was in much better shape than I was," he said.

"I said to the team at the time - I thanked them profusely for repairing the car firstly, and then apologised that for me, I personally couldn't give 110 per cent because it was so sore.

"Those races, we had to finish - we were still really trying to fight for second in the Championship. Unfortunately we ended up fourth, but really for me it was a mentally tough weekend."

Though he was struggling physically, it didn't stop Lowndes from signing as many autographs as he could before the team swept him away on the Saturday night to be treated, again showing why he's the fan favourite.

"The fans are there to interact and everything else, and they want to come up and say hello and see how I was. It's only fair you try and give back as much as you can," he said.

Lowndes went on to finish the three races 13th, 20th and 17th and while he finished further back in the title race than he was hoping, this time around he is up there as one of the main contenders again.

He won two of the three races staged at the last event in Tasmania and sits third on the points table, after two Championship events.

Next month the Red Bull racer will be looking for his 100th win in the category, to make him the first man to hit the century.

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