Lowndes: Sandown critical in Bathurst win pursuit

04 Sep
Triple Eight veteran chasing eighth Bathurst victory
  • Both drivers tested Triple Eight wildcard for third time today

  • Lowndes will make his 30th consecutive Bathurst start

  • #888 wildcard entry to be managed by Jess Dane

Craig Lowndes has his sights set on a critical gelling weekend at Sandown with Zane Goddard and Triple Eight ahead of a milestone Bathurst appearance.

Lowndes and Goddard will share a third Triple Eight Chevrolet Camaro — with the livery unveiled on Monday — at the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 and Repco Bathurst 1000.

The two drivers tested the car at Queensland Raceway on Monday, and will return on Tuesday before setting sail on the first enduro of the season. The entry will be engineered by Wes McDougall, and managed by Jessica Dane.

While Goddard will make his Sandown enduro debut, Lowndes has done it all before, and has won the 500km race six times. Only Peter Brock has more with nine.

Next weekend’s event will be the first pre-Bathurst enduro since 2018 — and the last time Lowndes went into a Bathurst weekend with a long race under his belt, he won.

Lowndes has shown no sign of slowing down on the Mountain since retiring in 2018. In four starts as a part-time driver since 2019, Lowndes has finished fourth twice with Jamie Whincup (2019 and 2021) and eighth with Declan Fraser (2022), the only blip the 2020 DNF due to Whincup's early crash.

Dane suspects Lowndes will match Brock record Open Graph Image

With Bathurst on the horizon, the 49-year-old wants to iron out any kinks through testing and Sandown so the #888 crew can go all guns blazing at Mount Panorama.

"Having the Sandown 500 as a warm-up event for the Bathurst 1000 is pretty normal for me," Lowndes said.

"It’s really important for both Zane and I and the team to gel together and get through any of the niggling problems we want to get through before we get to Bathurst because that's the race we want to win.

"Our upcoming test days are really important. I think the test days are invaluable and is a great chance to practice the fundamentals, especially driver changes and pit stop practices.

"We know that we're going to be on our own at Sandown, but when we get to Bathurst, we're going to have to share a boom, so getting all those fundamentals right is important for a great result.”

Lowndes’ first year in Triple Eight’s wildcard delivered the best wildcard result in Bathurst history, with the seven-time winner seventh alongside Declan Fraser last year.

The Supercars Hall of Famer, who recently signed a contract extension with Triple Eight through 2025, is determined to beat the 2022 result.

Should it come on October 8, it would be a fitting way to celebrate 30 consecutive starts on the Mountain for Lowndes, whose 1994 debut came five years before Goddard was born.

"It’s been great mentoring Zane this year. I've known Zane for a little while now. He's a bright, young talent and we're looking forward to beating last year’s result,” he added.

"It makes me feel old knowing this year’s Bathurst will be my 30th start at the Great Race, but look, it's really special.

"I think Bathurst has always been a race that I've always wanted to win, even from a young age. It really is a team effort, and for me, it's important to make sure that we put a good foot forward in getting a good result.”

Lowndes and Goddard will race for the first time together at Sandown on September 15-17.

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