WITH six Bathurst 1000 wins to his name, there is no doubt that Supercars driver Craig Lowndes has concquered the mountain.
He is a fan favourite without a doubt, which was why his announcement last week that he would be retiring from full-time driving at the end of 2018 came as such a shock.
In interviews over the weekend, Lowndes said fans had told him they had made the decision to drive several hours to the Townsville 400 event after hearing he would be retiring.
But councillor Warren Aubin doesn’t think that the announcement will have the same impact on crowd figures – as was the case with Peter Brock when he retired – this year as Lowndes will continue to race as a co-driver at endurance events in the Supercars Championship.
“I don’t think it is going to make an extreme difference to crowds,” he said.
He did concede, though, that the driver Lowndes is paired with at the 2019 Bathurst 1000 may lead to a spike in crowd figures.
Lowndes claimed consecutive titles with fellow Triple Eight driver Jamie Whincup in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and Cr Aubin thinks a pairing like that could spark more fan interest.
“Every time [Lowndes] races at Bathurst he gets results, so him with Whincup would be pretty formidable, especially with Red Bull Racing,” he said.
He added that Lowndes paired with a new driver in a third Triple Eight car, which may or may not be run in 2019, would also spark interest.
Outside of the Bathurst 1000, Cr Aubin can see Lowdnes making the trip to Mount Panorama as a driver for other events on the calandar.
He has previously driven in the Bathurst 12 Hour, which he has won twice, but never the Bathurst 6 Hour.
“Every driver, and he has been an advocate for Bathurst since he has been able to drive, but every race driver takes every opportunity they can to race at Bathurst, so if someone offered him the drive [in the 6 Hour] I think he would,” Cr Aubin said.