Craig Lowndes

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Craig Lowndes
Craig Lowndes 2010 Sydney 500 Students on Track presentation.jpg
Craig Lowndes speaking at the 2010 Sydney 500.
Nationality Australian
V8 Supercar Record
Car number 888
Current team Red Bull Racing Australia
Series Championships 3
Races 227
Round Wins 43
Podium finishes 100
Race Wins 97
Pole positions 35
2013 Championship position 2nd (2966 pts)

Craig Lowndes OAM (born 21 June 1974 in Melbourne, Victoria) is a multi-championship winning Australian racing driver. He is a three-time V8 Supercar champion, a four-time Barry Sheene Medalist, and a five-time winner of Australia's most prestigious motor race, the Bathurst 1000. Among all his other achievements, Lowndes has claimed eight 500 kilometre V8 Supercar/ATCC endurance titles (five Sandown 500 victories, two L&H 500 crowns and one Queensland 500 win). He currently competes for the Brisbane-based Triple Eight Race Engineering team driving Holden Commodores. On 11 June 2012, Lowndes received the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his success in motorsport and contribution to the broader Australian community, "particularly through road safety education programs and charitable organizations."[1]

Craig Lowndes is the son of former long-time Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) Chief Scrutineer Frank Lowndes.

Racing career[edit]

Born in Melbourne, Lowndes began his racing career at age nine, driving go-karts at a track in the nearby town of Whittlesea.

Early career[edit]

He moved up to race cars in 1991, driving a Van Diemen in the Motorcraft Formula Ford "Driver to Europe" Series. Despite the car being several years old and receiving minimal sponsorship, Lowndes shot to almost immediate success. Lowndes won the Australian Formula Ford Championship in 1993 which qualified him for the Formula Ford Festival in England that same year, where he finished third. Lowndes moved up to Australia's top rank of open wheel racing being Formula Brabham in 1994. His success in Formula Brabham driving an ageing Cheetah Mk9 against much more modern cars was rewarded with the Australian Silver Star.

Holden Racing Team[edit]

1996 HRT Commodore

By this time Lowndes had been added to the Holden Racing Teams testing crew. He looked sufficiently promising in testing that Lowndes was drafted into the No. 015 Commodore with Brad Jones for the 1994 Sandown 500. It was expected to be a one-off performance as Rickard Rydell from the BTCC Volvo sister team within TWR was to join the team for Bathurst. Rydell was forced to stay home for family reasons and after his impressive debut at Sandown, HRT team manager Jeff Grech had no hesitation in giving Rydell's seat to the young Lowndes.

After a gruelling double-stint by Jones, Lowndes began the final stint of the race as the premier challenger to the DJR Falcon of John Bowe which had dominated the race. With eleven laps to go Lowndes stunned the touring car establishment overtaking Bowe on the outside of Griffins Bend in a move that made him a household name. Bowe retook a lap later and Lowndes was forced to back off in the closing laps but second was an impressive achievement for a rookie driver. Lowndes won fans in pit lane when he later admitted that his passing move on Bowe was simply a case of missing his brake marker.

A year later Lowndes qualified on pole for the Bathurst 1000, only for his Holden Racing Team Commodore to DNF early on in the race when both HRT cars experienced oil pressure problems and engine failure during the race. HRT had seen enough however and for the 1996 season replaced Tomas Mezera full-time in the team. At his first attempt, he won the championship and also won both the Sandown and Bathurst races with team-mate Greg Murphy.

His Bathurst 1000 victory in 1996 making Craig Lowndes the youngest winner of the Bathurst 1000, at the time. With Lowndes and Greg Murphy, the youngest ever driver pairing to win the Bathust 1000.

Formula 3000[edit]

Lowndes left Australia and went to Europe to further his open wheeler racing career, by competing with the RSM Marko Team in the 1997 International Formula 3000 Championship[2] as team-mate to Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya. He enjoyed limited success but failed to find the budget to compete a second year.

Australian return[edit]

On his return to Australia, Lowndes again won the Sandown 500 for HRT, partnered by New Zealander Greg Murphy. Together with back to back race wins at Sandown in the enduros. He resumed his racing seat with the Holden Racing Team, alongside new team-mate Mark Skaife, shuffling Greg Murphy into a test-driving role. Lowndes again proved difficult to catch and went on to win the 1998 Championship, although the premature debut of the VT series Commodore would cruel his Bathurst campaign.

In the first full year of campaigning the VT Commodore, Lowndes had already amassed a large lead by the time the series arrived for Round 8 at Calder Park Raceway. Following a win in the first sprint race, a poor start by Lowndes saw him bogged down in the field and subsequently tapped by another car which resulted in a spectacular roll over, momentarily sending the car airborne, into an embankment. The car (which was only 4 races old) was declared a write-off and Lowndes was fortunate to only suffer a knee injury. Despite missing the following round at Symmons Plains Raceway due to the injury, Lowndes still went on to clinch the Championship at the Bathurst Classic finishing second in the final round of the season.

Despite Lowndes as favourite to win a 4th title in 2000, it would not be a season to remember. Lowndes struggled with relibility and consistency throughout the season and was unable to win the title instead finished 3rd in the championship behind teammate Mark Skaife and Garth Tander with 3 round wins including the Queensland 500.

Ford[edit]

Dissatisfaction within HRT triggered Lowndes move to a new team, causing a stir among race fans when he jumped ship from Holden to arch-rival manufacturer Ford, signing with a team headed up by former driver Fred Gibson. This partnership lasted for two years in which time Lowndes finished 7th and 11th in the championship. The relationship proved unsuccessful due to reliability issues with the Ford Falcon race car. Despite the setbacks, Lowndes garnered an admiration from fans for his positive attitude and demeanour. Gibson Motor Sport was renamed to 00 Motorsport (pronounced "double-zero", being Lowndes' racing number) after a change of management. Lowndes's black and silver Falcon was affectionately referred to as the "green-eyed monster" for the bright green covers over the headlights.

Ford Performance Racing[edit]

Lowndes signed with the factory-sponsored Ford Performance Racing team for the 2003 season. The season saw Lowndes improve from the previous 2 seasons and managed a 5th place in the championship including his first round win since the Queensland 500 in 2000 and the first with Ford. The season proved inconsistent and reliability issues started setting in throughout the season causing Lowndes to miss out on a chance for the title. 2004 would be Lowndes worst championship year, reliability became a big issue in the FPR garage throughout the season. Lowndes finished a lowly 20th in the championship causing him to leave the team at the end of 2004

Triple 8 Race Engineering[edit]

The Ford Falcon of Craig Lowndes at Queensland Raceway, 23 August 2009.

Lowndes joined Team Betta Electrical in 2005 and enjoyed his most successful season since switching to Ford. He had the most round victories and the most pole positions of any driver in the championship, and finished second in the final standings behind champion Russell Ingall. He suffered a luckless run at the Bathurst 1000 that year, where, despite qualifying on the pole, he spent much time in the pits after two separate incidents which severely damaged his Falcon including a wheel that smashed into his windscreen.

At the V8 Gala Awards, Lowndes was awarded the Barry Sheene Medal, an award akin to Most Valuable Player[citation needed] which is voted on by a team of panellists from the Australian media, motorsport magazines, television commentators and former drivers. This award was first introduced in 2003, in honour of the late Barry Sheene. Marcos Ambrose won it in 2003 and 2004, winning the championship in both years. Hence this made Lowndes the first non-championship winner to take out the award.

Lowndes was a contender for the championship right up until the last race, being level on points with Rick Kelly. The two fought one of the closest non-staged finishes in Bathurst 1000 history on 8 October, with Lowndes winning over Kelly by just half a second. It was his first Bathurst win since 1996 and Ford's first since 1998. The win was a very emotional one for Lowndes, being the first Bathurst 1000 held since the death of his long-time mentor Peter Brock at a road rally the month before. As winners of the Bathurst 1000, the inaugural Peter Brock Trophy was presented to Lowndes and his team-mate, Jamie Whincup.

Lowndes eventually finished second in the 2006 V8 Supercar season. After complaining of having been "unfairly" held up for up to six seconds a lap by Rick Kelly's team mates over the first two races, Lowndes was level on championship points with Kelly after race 2 (of 3) in the final round. In the deciding race Kelly crashed into Lowndes heading into the hairpin resulting in a lengthy pitstop to repair Lowndes' vehicle. Kelly received only a drive-through penalty and went on to finish the race in 18th position and seal the championship victory, while Lowndes finished the race 31st. Kelly was booed by Ford fans when he was on the podium to receive his trophy.

Lowndes and Triple Eight Racing lodged a protest and a hearing was set up. The protest was dismissed after a long hearing and Rick Kelly was confirmed as the 2006 champion. Lowndes and Triple Eight Racing decided not to appeal that decision and proclaim themselves the "Moral Champions" for the 2006 season.[citation needed] Lowndes won the Barry Sheene Medal for the second year in a row.

Lowndes had three victories in 2007, the sixth round at Hidden Valley Raceway, and both the endurance classics, the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000. He finished third place in the championship. His team mate, Jamie Whincup, came second in the V8 Supercar Championship. In 2008 Lowndes and Whincup won the Bathurst 1000 for a third time in a row becoming only the third pairing in the history of the Bathurst 1000 to achieve it after Peter Brock and Jim Richards (1978–80) and Peter Brock and Larry Perkins (1982–84).

In 2009, Lowndes started the year with a brand new Ford FG Falcon. Despite winning races in Winton, the Gold Coast and Barbagallo, he was unable to match his teammate and finished the year 4th in the standings. Being once again paired up with Whincup in the enduros but suffered the heartbreak of losing the race lead on the final lap of the L&H Phillip Island 500 due to a delaminating tyre. Heading to Bathurst on the verge of making history, they failed in their bid to win a fourth consecutive Bathurst title, due to a drive-thru penalty, a clutch problem and bad luck.

In 2010, Team Vodafone switched to Holden Commodores as Ford cut sponsorship. Lowndes placed fourth in the championship with podiums in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Queensland Raceway and Winton following a very solid season. Partnering five-time champion Mark Skaife, Lowndes won the Bathurst 1000 for the fifth time, as well as the Phillip Island 500. His first solo victory for the season came during the Falken Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains.

2011 proved to be Lowndes' most competitive year in recent times, narrowly finishing second in the championship to teammate Whincup following a Sydney showdown. The year was filled with highlights, including five pole positions, a clean sweep of the Queensland Raceway round, another Phillip Island 500 crown with Mark Skaife and a stellar drive to second at Bathurst. Lowndes then capped the year off in style, winning the Sydney 500 and taking out the coveted Barry Sheene Medal for the third time at the end of season Gala awards. He backed up his strong championship campaign in 2011 by again finishing second to Whincup the following season. 2012 saw Lowndes net 7 race victories in the championship, including his fifth Sandown 500 title with teammate Warren Luff.

In the 2013 season opener in Adelaide, Lowndes won by a record margin of over 20.5 seconds in Race 1, while coming in third in Race 2. Lowndes' race 1 victory marked the first win under V8 Supercar's new "Car of the Future" regulations, as well as the 90th of his career, equalling all-time rival Mark Skaife. Along with his Triple Eight Racing teammate Jamie Whincup, Lowndes has continued to dominate in the 2013 season, scoring race wins at Adelaide, Barbagallo Raceway, Hidden Valley Raceway, and also winning Race 1 at Gold Coast with co-driver Warren Luff.

Rallying[edit]

In 2010, Lowndes ventured off-road to compete in the Australasian Safari with a Holden Colorado at his disposal. He won the Rally Raid at his first attempt with a margin of over one hour back to second place. Former V8 Supercar team owner, Kees Weel was co-driver. Lowndes crashed out of the lead of the Safari the following year.

Bathurst 12 Hour[edit]

Since the Bathurst 12 Hour race was changed to allow FIA GT3 cars in 2011, Lowndes has been a regular competitor in the race. In 2011 he finished second outright in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 driving for famed German endurance racing team and multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Joest Racing. In 2012 he failed to finish, again driving an Audi R8, this time for another German team Phoenix Racing, while he also failed to finish in 2013, again in an R8.

Lowndes finally won the race in 2014 driving a Ferrari 458 GT3 for Maranello Motorsport alongside fellow Aussies John Bowe and Peter Edwards, and ex-Formula One driver, Mika Salo of Finland.

Racing record[edit]

Career summary[edit]

The TeamVodafone entered Holden VE Commodore of Craig Lowndes at the 2011 Clipsal 500 Adelaide
The TeamVodafone entered Holden VE Commodore of Craig Lowndes at the 2012 Clipsal 500 Adelaide
The Red Bull Racing Australia entered Holden VF Commodore of Craig Lowndes at the 2013 pre-season test.
Season Series Position Car Team
1991 "Champion of Winton" Formula Ford Series 1st Van Diemen RF85 Ford
1992 Motorcraft Fomula Ford Driver to Europe Series 6th Van Diemen RF85 Ford
Reynard FF88 Ford
Northern Tuning Services
1993 Australian Formula Ford Championship 1st Van Diemen RF93 Ford Craig Lowndes
1994 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Cheetah Mk9 Holden Brian Sampson
1994 Australian Silver Star 1st Cheetah Mk9 Holden Brian Sampson
1996 Australian Touring Car Championship 1st Holden VR Commodore Holden Racing Team
1997 International Formula 3000 Championship 17th Lola T96/50 Zytek RSM Marko
1998 Australian Touring Car Championship 1st Holden VS Commodore
Holden VT Commodore
Holden Racing Team
1999 Shell Championship Series 1st Holden VT Commodore Holden Racing Team
2000 Shell Championship Series 3rd Holden VT Commodore Holden Racing Team
2001 Shell Championship Series 11th Ford AU Falcon Gibson Motor Sport
2002 V8 Supercar Championship Series 7th Ford AU Falcon Gibson Motor Sport
2003 V8 Supercar Championship Series 5th Ford BA Falcon Ford Performance Racing
2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series 20th Ford BA Falcon Ford Performance Racing
2005 V8 Supercar Championship Series 2nd Ford BA Falcon Triple Eight Race Engineering
2006 V8 Supercar Championship Series 2nd Ford BA Falcon Triple Eight Race Engineering
2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series 3rd Ford BF Falcon Triple Eight Race Engineering
2008 V8 Supercar Championship Series 4th Ford BF Falcon Triple Eight Race Engineering
2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series 4th Ford FG Falcon Triple Eight Race Engineering
2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series 4th Holden VE Commodore Triple Eight Race Engineering
2011 International V8 Supercars Championship 2nd Holden VE Commodore Triple Eight Race Engineering
2012 International V8 Supercars Championship 2nd Holden VE Commodore Triple Eight Race Engineering
2013 International V8 Supercars Championship 2nd Holden VF Commodore Triple Eight Race Engineering
2013 Australian GT Championship 28th Audi R8 LMS Ultra Melbourne Performance Centre

Bathurst 1000 results[edit]

Year Number Team Car Co-driver Position Laps
1994 015 Holden Racing Team Holden VP Commodore Brad Jones 2nd 161
1995 015 Holden Racing Team Holden VR Commodore Greg Murphy DNF 10
1996 1 Holden Racing Team Holden VR Commodore Greg Murphy 1st 161
1997 15 Holden Racing Team Holden VS Commodore Greg Murphy DNF 38
1998 1 Holden Racing Team Holden VT Commodore Mark Skaife 6th 159
1999 1 Holden Racing Team Holden VT Commodore Cameron McConville 2nd 161
2000 1 Holden Racing Team Holden VT Commodore Mark Skaife 6th 161
2001 00 Gibson Motor Sport Ford AU Falcon Neil Crompton 17th 156
2002 00 Gibson Motor Sport Ford AU Falcon Neil Crompton DNF 127
2003 6 Ford Performance Racing Ford BA Falcon Glenn Seton 2nd 161
2004 6 Ford Performance Racing Ford BA Falcon Glenn Seton 2nd 161
2005 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford BA Falcon Yvan Muller 15th 151
2006 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford BA Falcon Jamie Whincup 1st 161
2007 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford BF Falcon Jamie Whincup 1st 161
2008 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford BF Falcon Jamie Whincup 1st 161
2009 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford FG Falcon Jamie Whincup 5th 161
2010 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden VE Commodore Mark Skaife 1st 161
2011 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden VE Commodore Mark Skaife 2nd 161
2012 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden VE Commodore Warren Luff 3rd 161
2013 888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden VF Commodore Warren Luff 3rd 161

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DC Points
1997 RSM Marko SIL
14
PAU
Ret
HEL
Ret
NÜR
Ret
PER
4
HOC
Ret
A1R
Ret
SPA
Ret
MUG
21
JER
9
17th 3

Personal life[edit]

Lowndes announced in August 2011 that he had separated from his wife Natalie.[3] They currently share custody of their two children: son, Levi, and daughter, Chilli. He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

In 2012, Lowndes went with friend Lee Holdsworth for a holiday to Abu Dhabi to promote the V8 Supercars there. Lowndes brought along his own Holden VEII Commodore from Australia.[4]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Bowe
Winner of the Australian Touring Car Championship
1996
Succeeded by
Glenn Seton
Preceded by
Larry Perkins
Russell Ingall
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
1996
(with Greg Murphy)
Succeeded by
Geoff Brabham
David Brabham
Preceded by
Glenn Seton
Winner of the Australian Touring Car Championship
1998 and 1999
Succeeded by
Mark Skaife
Preceded by
Mark Skaife
Todd Kelly
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
2006, 2007 & 2008
(with Jamie Whincup)
Succeeded by
Garth Tander
Will Davison
Preceded by
Garth Tander
Will Davison
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
2010
(with Mark Skaife)
Succeeded by
Garth Tander
Nick Percat
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Marcos Ambrose
Barry Sheene Medal
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Jamie Whincup
Preceded by
James Courtney
Barry Sheene Medal
2011
Succeeded by
Mark Winterbottom
Preceded by
Jason Richards
Peter Brock Medal
2013
Succeeded by
Neal Bates
Records
Preceded by
Mark Skaife
42 wins
(19872011)
Most ATCC round wins
43
(19962013),
43rd win at the 2012 Sydney Telstra 500
Succeeded by
incumbent
Preceded by
Mark Skaife
90 wins
(19872011)
Most ATCC race wins
94
(19962013),
91st win at the 2013 Chill Perth 360
Succeeded by
incumbent