Race Preview: New Zealand
Fresh off the back of an endurance cup win, Lowndes has a spring in his step and is rolling into the next two rounds as if they’re his last.
Without his co-driver Steve “Richo” Richards by his side, Lowndesy will push forth and look to take his first, and possibly last, win at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand this weekend.
And if the saying ‘a change is as good as a holiday’ is true, Lowndesy is in good stead with car no. 888 undergoing a quick livery change ahead of the Auckland SuperSprint.
Lowndesy’s Autobarn Lowndes Racing entry will wear a National Storage themed livery after the storage giant jumped on board as the team’s naming rights partner for this race weekend only.
“The car will definitely stand out from the crowd, it looks great,” said Lowndes at the unveiling.
“Autobarn don’t have a presence in New Zealand and National Storage have already been on board with the team this year and are keen to step it up and take on the naming rights.
“It’s a one-off but the future looks bright and we’re looking forward to the possibility of working with them into the future.
“It’s actually the first time I’ve had a livery change halfway through the year – I’ve always had the same one from start to finish of each season, so that’s pretty cool.”
As for New Zealand, well it’s not his home track by any means, but Lowndes loves the Kiwi patriotism.
“The good thing about New Zealand is that the people are very patriotic and it’s great to see that they’re proud of their country and its traditions,” Lowndes continued.
“They’re very friendly and very welcoming and I love going over there for the race. It’s a place where I’ve done some racing over the course of my driving career and I’ve always liked it.
“I haven’t won a race these, but I’ve come close.”
Well, if the momentum from the past three rounds continues, we could see Lowndesy’s first and last race win in Pukekohe come to life.
“It’s a fast-flowing track, it’s very bumpy – it’s probably one of the bumpiest tracks we encounter on our calendar and it’s very hard to get right,” he said.
“The back straight of Pukekohe is fast – before we had the chicane it was over 280 km/h and it’s still up around that speed.
“The exciting part is the last section when we come up over the crest and past pit lane, it’s really fast and reaches about 240km/hr, while also being very bumpy and a blind corner.”
With the endurance cup in his pocket, Lowndesy’s next target is climbing the championship ladder. And while there are only four races left to chase a gap of 443 points to the leader, there’s no stopping Craig from climbing as high as he can.
“My team mate Shane van Gisbergen is chasing the title but I’m hot on the heels of my team mate Jamie Whincup,” Lowndes said.
“There’s only 10 points between us and we’ve been able to close that gap down over the past few rounds and now I’m looking forward to continuing that battle.”
With three of the Triple Eight drivers in the top four of the Supercars Championship, we’re in for a particularly large couple of rounds.