Lowndes takes confidence from test

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/09/2017
  • By Mitchell Adam

Craig Lowndes says Wednesday’s test at Queensland Raceway helped confirm that he is heading in the right set-up direction with his TeamVortex Commodore.

Lowndes has not been able to run with Triple Eight stablemates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen so far this season, sitting seventh in the Supercars standings and 612 points off top spot.

While Whincup and van Gisbergen, currently second and fourth, are both multiple race winners, Lowndes has a solitary podium to his name from the crash-marred Symmons Plains opener.

Qualifying pace has been Lowndes’ biggest issue with an average position of 13.1, and the three-time champion says the focus of his pre-enduro running was on “covering off” what he and engineer John McGregor have done so far this season.

“It was really to re-benchmark ourselves on the direction we’ve been going this year,” Lowndes told Supercars.com.

“Obviously the Red Bull cars have got their own ideas, and after the test what we think we know is what we do know, so that’s good.

“We didn’t run on any good tyres, but we wanted to throw everything at it in terms of changes and see what the response from the car was.

“We’ll analyse our changes and go to the proper data and make sure they correspond. The data never lies!

“It was a positive day, we learnt a lot about what we’ve been trying to learn and we really just confirmed what we know and the direction we want to keep going in.”

McGregor stepped up from data to race engineer for Lowndes at the last of 2016’s endurance events, then took full control at Pukekohe after Ludo Lacroix’s exit towards Shell V-Power Racing.

Lowndes says he and McGregor gelling and finding their own path has been part of the season, after all three Triple Eight drivers started with “very similar” set-ups.

Pre-enduros test day

“Obviously Irish coming on full-time was a new experience for him, so it’s taken him a little while to get his head around the way I operate,” Lowndes added. “He’s seen how I operate, but having that more-direct contact now.

“The two Red Bull cars have gone slightly different ways at different times, so between the three of us we’ve been trying to search for a few things.

“It’s really a matter of suiting the car to the driver. Jamie’s similar to me in some ways and so’s Shane, so we’re just trying to make the car work for what we need.”

Lowndes will be partnered by Steven Richards for a fourth PIRTEK Enduro Cup, the pair having won Bathurst together in 2015.

While last year’s enduros did not yield as much success, a best race result of fourth on the Gold Coast, Lowndes believes the continuity will help.

“The last couple of years it’s been good to slot in together,” he said.

“Obviously we had a great Bathurst two years ago, and a terrible one last year, so we’re keen to rectify that. It all comes to making sure both of us are comfortable in the car.

“He’s been comfortable in the test, which was really the important part.

“Sandown’s a different beast in we’ll be riding kerbs and that sort of stuff, and of course we’ll keep an eye on the weather.”

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