21 June 1974 |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Current team||Triple Eight Race Engineering|
|Series championships||3 (1996, 1998, 1999)|
|2015 Championship position||2nd (3008 pts)|
Craig Lowndes OAM (born 21 June 1974) is an Australian professional racing driver. He is a three-time V8 Supercar champion, a five-time Barry Sheene Medalist, and a six-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 is also the first driver in ATCC/V8SC history to win 100 races and holds the record for the most Bathurst 1000 podiums with 13. 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."
Craig Lowndes is the son of former long-time Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) Chief Scrutineer Frank Lowndes.
- 1 Racing career
- 2 Rallying
- 3 Bathurst 12 Hour
- 4 Racing record
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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
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, Lowndes 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.
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 as team-mate to Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya. He enjoyed limited success compared to his team mate Juan Pablo Montoya which resulted in Lowndes failing to find a budget to compete a second year.
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 reliability 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.
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-o", 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
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 Eight Race Engineering
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 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 2006, 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 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.
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. 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 had 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. He ended the season in 2nd for the third consecutive year — each behind Jamie Whincup.
In 2015, Lowndes became the first driver to reach 100 race wins in the V8 Supercar championship. He capped off a brilliant campaign by placing second in the championship and winning his sixth Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Steven Richards. In doing so, he equalled all-time greats Mark Skaife and Larry Perkins in terms of number of victories at Mount Panorama, and now stands alone with a record 13th podium at the event. He also scored his 5th Barry Sheene Medal and won the Most Popular Driver award for the third year in succession (since its inception in 2013).
In 2016, Shane Van Gisbergen joined Triple Eight Race Engineering, with Lowndes moving to a third Triple Eight entry sponsored by Caltex. Lowndes won his first race of the year at the Perth SuperSprint, where he charged through the field after taking on a two-stop strategy. At the Sydney SuperSprint, Lowndes became the first driver to enter 600 championship races, and after leading the first half of the race, finished second to Whincup, who in the process became the second driver after Lowndes to win 100 races.
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
Craig Lowndes first competitive race at Bathurst was in the 1994 James Hardie 12 Hour for production cars. Sharing a Nissan Pulsar SSS with John and Phil Morriss, Lowndes finished 14th outright and first in Class B.
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.
Bathurst 1000 results
Complete International Formula 3000 results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Complete Bathurst 12 Hour results
|1994||John Morriss|| John Morriss
|Nissan Pulsar SSS||B||236||14||1|
|2011|| Joest Racing
| Mark Eddy
|Audi R8 LMS GT3||A||292||2||2|
|2012||Phoenix Racing|| Mark Eddy
|Audi R8 LMS GT3||A||156||DNF||DNF|
|2013||Rod Salmon|| Warren Luff
|Audi R8 LMS GT3||A||162||DNF||DNF|
|2014||Maranello Motorsport|| John Bowe
|Ferrari 458 GT3||A||296||1||1|
Lowndes announced in August 2011 that he had separated from his wife Natalie. They currently share custody of their two children: son, Levi, and daughter, Chilli. On the 6th of January 2016 Craig Lowndes wed partner Lara McDonald. He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
- Autocourse, 1997–98, pages 274–275
- "Van Gisbergen to join three car Triple Eight in 2016". Speedcafe. 6 March 2015.
- Bartholomaeus, Stefan (7 May 2016). "Lowndes steals victory in Barbagallo thriller". Speedcafe. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Bartholomaeus, Stefan (28 August 2016). "Whincup records 100th Supercars win". speedcafe.com. Speedcafe. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Auto Action, 15 April 1994
- "Craig and Natalie Lowndes confirm separation". Speedcafe.com. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- Media related to Craig Lowndes at Wikimedia Commons
- Craig Lowndes Official Web Site
- Craig Lowndes Story (1999)