WITH 17 starts in the Bathurst 1000 Jamie Whincup boasts plenty of Great Race experience, but when it comes to this year’s edition of the 161-lap epic he will have an even better credentialed man beside him.
That man is Craig Lowndes.
It was alongside Lowndes in 2006 – a time when full-time drivers were allowed to share the same seat in endurance rounds – that Whincup first tasted Bathurst 1000 success.
The next two years the Triple Eight Racing duo once again reigned supreme at Mount Panorama, guiding their Ford Falcon BF to the chequered flag.
In 2009 they missed the podium, placing fifth, and the following year a new Supercars ruling meant full-time drivers were no longer allowed to share the same entry in enduros.
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But as Lowndes, a man who has six Bathurst 1000 wins and seven additional Great Race podiums, has now retired from a full-time drive in the series, he become an eligible and highly credentialed co-driver.
While Red Bull Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen made no secret of the fact he would like Lowndes beside him, team officials decided to reunite Whincup and Lowndes.
Not surprisingly, Whincup was delighted.
“In some way it feels like we’re getting the band back together. Lowndesy and I obviously had a good run at the enduros a few years ago and he’s coming off the back of a win in the Enduro Cup last year, so we’ll be working hard to give ourselves and the team the best shot later this year,” he said.
“Our previous results are no indication of how we’ll go this time around, but if there’s anyone you’d want on your side at Bathurst, it’s Craig Lowndes.”
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Lowndes, who won the 2018 edition of the Bathurst 1000, is also happy to reunite with Whincup.
“Both Jamie and I have a great history. With a lot of people wanting the pairing to happen, I’m going to really enjoy driving with Jamie,” he said.
“I can’t wait to see how Jamie and Shane perform this year with the new car and growing on the speed we had from last year. Getting back into the car for the enduros will be really special.”