Back to where it all began…
A few weeks following the announcement of his retirement from full-time driving, Craig Lowndes will head back to where it all began – Sydney Motorsport Park.
It was 1996 at SMP when a young Lowndesy made his full-time drive debut, under lights, in a race he won and a feat he is looking to reproduce this weekend.
“1996 was my first full-time drive so it was my first event and it was a very memorable round for me,” Lowndes recalled.
“It was a short track, it was under lights, and we managed to win it and we’re hoping to do that again this weekend.”
Australia hasn’t seen a night race in V8s since Craig’s debut and this weekend’s Sydney SuperNight 300 is playing out to be one of the biggest of the season, touted as somewhat of a wildcard round.
At 300km, the race will be the longest single driver event in the category’s history.
“I’ve been lucky enough to do some night races and I’m looking forward to the challenges,” Lowndes continued.
“The concept is awesome. It has fantastic viewing, the cars glow, the discs light up and it all adds a very different element to the race.
“I would like to see more night racing. I think we have some great circuits which can bring the right atmosphere, like Darwin and Townsville, and would provide the perfect environment to race under lights.
“It allows families to go to work or do what they need to do during the day, then get out to the circuits later to relax and watch us going around at night.”
The lack of sun provides an obvious change in conditions as temperatures drop to single digits playing havoc with tyre temperatures.
“The conditions will change considerably as it cools down at night; the cars will change in balance, the tyre temperatures will be hard to get up and running however, the engines do run much better,” said Lowndes.
“On top of all of that, you need to be able to see where you’re going, and you need to have good perception of depth for what’s ahead to see the corners, the brake markers and the line markings.”
Coming off a podium at his last home race in Ipswich, Lowndesy is looking to continue that momentum now and as we dive in to the endurance season.
“It was obviously great to have the podium at Queensland Raceway. It gave us good confidence and motivation to move on to Sydney Motorsport Park (SMP) and have a strong showing there,” said Lowndes.
After beginning his career under lights in Sydney, it seems only fitting that Lowndesy will race his last Sydney race under lights.