Motorsport: Bathurst 50th inspires drivers

Craig Lowndes. Photo / Getty Images
Craig Lowndes. Photo / Getty Images

The memories of some of Australian motorsport's greatest drivers has fired V8 Supercars championship contender Craig Lowndes' desire to claim another Bathurst 1000 crown.

Lowndes, with teammate Jamie Whincup and veteran Holden driver Russell Ingall, spent yesterday on Mt Panorama alongside greats Jim Richards, Colin Bond, Allan Moffat and Dick Johnson to celebrate the launch of this year's V8 Supercars endurance race, now in its 50th year.

Marking four weeks out from the October 7 1000km classic, five-time winner Lowndes spent the day spinning yarns with the former driving stars and it has him ready to push for a sixth Bathurst crown.

"The benefit we got is the good stories from behind the scenes - from in the garages and everything else - and how they struggled to get to the mountain, the cars that they drove," Lowndes said.

"What they achieved back then was quite incredible, with the equipment that they had."

Inevitably discussion turned to the legend who wasn't there yesterday, nine-times Bathurst winner Peter Brock, who will always be linked with Mt Panorama, especially with the winner's trophy named in his honour following his death in 2006.

Brock was Lowndes' mentor during the fledging years of the 38-year-old's career and he admitted every trip to western New South Wales always brings back memories.

"It's hard not to ... because of what he achieved and what he's done," Lowndes said.

"It's quite easy to bring back all those memories as well."

This year's race looms as one of the most eagerly contested in the 50-year history of motorsport at what Australians call the Great Race.

Lowndes and Whincup, as well as Ford rivals Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison, are separated by just 154 points.

While those margins may change after the Sandown 500 on September 16, the warm-up to Bathurst, there's no doubt which event is foremost in the championship contenders' minds already.

"To be part of the 50 years and contribute to that side of it has been amazing and to go there this year knowing what it stands for, I think there's a lot of, not only drivers but spectators as well, that are looking to getting up there and celebrating," Lowndes said.

"Hopefully to get on that top step at the end of the race, it's a huge achievement with obviously the biggest celebration of the year."

- AAP

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