SIX-times Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes has announced he will retire from full-time driving at the end of the 2018 Australia Supercars Championship season.
Although Lowndes’ contract to drive for Triple Eight Race Engineering is in place to the end the 2019 season, the decision to step back from full-time duties behind the wheel was reached mutually between him and Triple Eight Managing Director Roland Dane.
But the good news for fans of the Great Race is that Lowndes – a man who placed second in his Bathurst 1000 debut in 1994 – plans to race on at the Mount.
Lowndes has achieved a win and three podium finishes so far in 2018 and currently sits fourth in the championship.
It is important to both Lowndes and the team that he finishes his full-time driving career on a high and these strong results so far this season have been representative of this.
“I’ve always said there are two key factors keeping me racing and those are my motivation to keep getting up and doing what I love and my competitiveness, and for me, nothing has changed,” Lowndes said.
“But at the same time I want to make sure I finish my last full-time season with some strong results in the bag and after this year’s results so far Roland and I came to the decision between us that this will be my last full season behind the wheel.”
Having joined the team over 13 years ago, Lowndes will continue to be an integral part of the Triple Eight family for the foreseeable future by taking on the role of Team Ambassador, as well as co-driving one of the Triple Eight Commodores in the endurance events.
That means he has the chance to more Bathurst 1000 podiums to his already impressive tally of six wins, five seconds and a pair of thirds.
“It will be an extremely emotional day on Sunday of Newcastle when Craig heads out for his final race as a full-time driver, but we’re delighted that he’s chosen to stay with Triple Eight next year and hopefully into the future. He’s a massive part of the team here and has played a huge role in making Triple Eight what it is today,” Dane said.
“We don’t know yet who Craig’s going to be co-driving with for the enduros – that depends on the structure of the team – but he’s undoubtedly got a few more Bathurst wins in him.”
“I definitely won’t be pursuing a drive with any other teams in Supercars. I’ll be staying with Triple Eight and I’m looking forward to an exciting new chapter as an ambassador for the team and of course co‑driving with Triple Eight in the enduros. I’m also pleased to announce that I’ll be joining the broadcast team, which is something I’m really looking forward to. It’s not the last time you’ll see this grin in pit lane!” Lowndes said.
“I’ve also always said I’d love to go and do more racing overseas and in different categories. Le Mans is definitely on the bucket list and hopefully this will enable me to go and do that, which Roland and the team will be supportive of.”
The 44-year-old’s illustrious career on Australian shores has seen him break records and hit milestones in his 21 seasons as a full-time Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championship driver. Lowndes has amassed three championship wins and 106 race wins, as well as being the first driver to clock up a century of race victories.
“Craig Lowndes is not only the most recognisable face within Supercars, but he’s a role model and hero of the sport,” Sean Seamer, CEO of the Australia Supercars Championship said.
“In the relatively short time that I’ve known him, Craig has proved himself to be the same genuine, friendly bloke in person that you see on camera, as well as one of the most tenacious drivers in the series. He’s a true legend of Australian sport. As an enduro driver, I have no doubt Craig will continue to be a regular visitor to the podium.
“As an ambassador to the sport, in whatever capacity he chooses, Craig will be a fundamental part of the Supercars family for many years to come and the entire Australian sporting landscape will be saddened to see him hang his helmet up after the last race of the year, but we won’t be allowing him to disappear from the paddock.
“With that in mind, Craig will be joining our broadcast team in 2019, making sure that our fans still get to benefit from Craig’s insights, expertise and humour. He might be stepping back from full-time competition, but his presence in our great sport will continue to grow.”