Lowndes says 2017 Supercars season ‘one of the toughest’

Craig Lowndes reckons the 2017 Supercars season is one of the toughest he’s been involved in, with his Triple Eight team locked in a fierce battle with new rivals DJR Team Penske and old foe Prodrive Racing Australia.

Lowndes says 2017 Supercars season ‘one of the toughest’
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford, Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden after crashing
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden, crash
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden, Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

Lowndes, who announced yesterday he will race on for at least the next two seasons as a Triple Eight driver, currently sits eighth in the points after what he describes as a ‘frustrating’ start to the season.

There’s some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the pace he showed on Sunday in Perth, where he recovered from a poor qualifying session, a warm-up lap technical hiccup, and being spun around not the way into pitlane for his first stop to come back and finish eighth.

The veteran superstar discussed his tough start to the year, as well as his new two-year contract and decision to race on, in a Q&A with Motorsport.com.

MOTORSPORT.COM: When did you make the call that you want to stay on and start working on the new deal?

CRAIG LOWNDES: To be honest at the start of the season I knew that this year I’d be out of contract, so I wanted to wait until after Clipsal to begin negotiations with Roland. From there it’s been a process of working with Roland to see what the future would look like for Triple Eight as a whole, because he did make a point that he’d only run three cars for me, so whether that was still going to happen. And it is, so from there it was a pretty easy deal to be done.

The quotes in the announcement made it sound that straightforward, so that was actually the case?

Yes it was. For me it was definitely a no-brainer to be part of the team again, because we’ve had a great relationship. It’s the longest time I’ve spent with a team, we’ve had great success, and I’m really looking forward to the next three years.

Just to confirm, it’s a full-time seat deal and no chance of going enduro-only before 2020?

No, no chance of that. It’s two years of full-time driving. For me it’s exciting to know what the future holds.

It must be nice to get it done this early and not have a full season of speculation, too…

Absolutely. Roland is a hard task master, but he’s very fair at the other end of it. We’ve had a great relationship, we’ve never had a bad word against each other, so for me it was a very easy decision to stay with the team. Also, to have seen the team develop over the time that I’ve been with them, it’s been great to be part of it. And it’s great to continue it.

What does 2020 look like for you? Time to do enduros and focus on some overseas stuff or chance of another full-time deal?

At the moment it’s just a matter of seeing what the end of 2019 looks like, and seeing if I’m still as keen and eager and want to be part of a full-time drive at that points. For me it’s great just to know at the moment that I’ve got two more years in the seat, and we’ll definitely analyse where I’m at personally, and whether I’ve still got the ambition and the drive to be in a car after that.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for you in terms of pace, but it seemed to fall into place on Sunday in Perth – are you confident of running at the front and keeping that top four streak in the championship alive?

Look, there’s no doubt that it’s been a frustrating start. And to be honest the championship is really hard fought this season, there’s not really one team or one driver that’s running away with it. It’s one of the toughest years I’ve been involved in.

But yeah, it has been frustrating. We’ve had fast cars but no results, or very few results. I’m looking forward to getting to Winton this weekend; last year we had a terrible Saturday, but qualified third on the Sunday. We had a broken header during the race and unfortunately fell back a little bit, but I’m looking forward to the next couple of meetings and trying to improve on where we are.

For me, working with John McGregor – Irish, we call him – I’m looking forward to working with him for more than 12 months. I’ve had four engineers in four years, so it’s nice to have some consistency going forward as well.

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