Motorsport: Lowndes sitting on quietly on record

By Eric Thompson

V8 Supercar driver Craig Lowndes arrived in New Zealand for the ITM 400 with one of the bigger monkeys on his back - and it's still there.

The Red Bull Racing Australia driver has been stuck on a record-equalling 90 race wins since the opening round of the series at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

He sits equal on the all-time win table with five-time series champion Mark Skaife, who hung up his full-time helmet back in 2008. Lowndes is one of the more senior pilots on the V8 tour and has been around long enough not to let the matter of beating a mere record worry him.

He looked like he'd break the record at the last round in Tasmania - as all through practice he was posting the fastest lap times. However, racing is a different ball game and Lowndes could only manage 28th, 10th and 11th. Yesterday, in race one, he finished third and 16th in race two.

"I'm looking at the bigger picture which is the championship for us as a team," said Lowndes. "We started the season so well and, of course, with that win in Adelaide we equalled the record.

"From then on, we've had a terrible run. It would be nice to get it squared away and get on with the championship."

Lowndes has been in the category since 1994 and the three-time series champion and five-time Bathurst winner knows just about all the highs and lows of motor racing and taking the good with the bad.

"If you look at the make-up of the category now, drivers have a better chance of getting victories because of the number of races these days. I can remember back when Skaife was winning, there were only 15 races in a season. Now we're up to about 35 - more than twice as many," said Lowndes.

That may be the case, but what has to be remembered is the talent pool on the grid over the past few years has been deep with many more different drivers in with a chance to win.

"I suppose it's sort of on a par now with the earlier years of the category. You've got more racers and more talent and, back in the day, fewer races and maybe less talent in the field.

"It's been great and I think the interesting part of this season are the new cars, new teams and people like Fabian Coulthard doing so well. He's been on fire the last couple of meetings," said Lowndes.

The Australian rates the re-vamped Pukekohe circuit and reckons the new complex on the back straight enlivens the racing.

The new car suits Lowndes' style of manhandling the machine around the track and it's a good bet he'll tick the box and get the record - and then get on with the business of winning his fourth championship title.

- Herald on Sunday

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