Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup expressed their admiration of Craig Lowndes, as he continues to race at such a high level in his 40s.
The TeamVortex driver is already a Supercars legend with six Bathurst 1000 wins to his name – and yesterday he clocked up his 104th Championship win and 16th victory at Barbagallo Raceway.
He finished second in the Championship last year and yesterday showed his younger teammates how it’s done, a clever strategy helping him to an incredible win at the Perth SuperSprint and a Triple Eight one-two-three.
The Red Bull duo acknowledged Lowndes’ incredible efforts at 41, with a bit of affectionate ribbing post-race yesterday.
Van Gisbergen has only joined the Triple Eight team officially this year and says he has learned from the veteran racer.
“I think it’s pretty impressive the run he’s had, as we all were kids growing up watching he was winning then,” van Gisbergen said.
“To be at the top of his game still is pretty impressive and I’m definitely learning a lot.
“There’s parts of his driving style that are very different for most people and I can still learn a lot from that.
“He’s pretty impressive, he’s a pretty quick old man!”
Whincup – who has been Lowndes’ teammate since joining Triple Eight in 2006 – congratulated the TeamVortex driver in his post-race interview, and believes there’s plenty left for Lowndes.
“We’re talking like he’s 100 years old, he’s early 40s!
“I think Schuey [Michael Schumacher] won a world championship at 38, which [he’s] only a couple of years older. So, you know, he’s only got 15 years left, so he’s got to go hard now.”
Lowndes insists he’s not ready to retire, given he’s enjoying racing and is still competitive. He has finished in the top four in the Championship for the past 11 years and showed he was quicker than ever yesterday, earning his first win for the season.
Plus, there’s another driver ready to suit up for the enduros he considers the elder statesman.
“If Russell [Ingall] keeps making a cameo!” he joked, before adding, “I’ve still got a good 10 years in me.”
Asked by v8supercars.com recently about retirement, he said: “I’ve got a current contract to the end of ’17 – so this year and next year – and then we’ll see what happens. But hopefully the path of retirement would be to step out of main full-time driving and then become a co-driver for the enduros and eventually at some point give that up as well. So hopefully it’s a progression.”
Lowndes sits second in the Championship race behind Whincup, with another 200km to go around Barbagallo Raceway today.