Supercars team denies claims they're forcing legend Craig Lowndes to retire

Claims that Craig Lowndes has been "pushed" into Supercars retirement have been dismissed by his Holden team boss ahead of this weekend's Ipswich round.

Three-time touring car champion Lowndes will be sentimental favourite at his 22nd and final Ipswich event after dropping the bombshell two weeks ago that this season would be his last as a full-time driver.

Lowndes has a record 12 wins at Ipswich and will be looking for lucky No.13 this weekend at the SuperSprint as he begins his final curtain call.

However, Lowndes' abrupt announcement in Townsville sparked rumours the 44-year- old was pressured into retirement by his team Red Bull Racing.

Fellow Supercars driver David Reynolds even put it on record, telling Fox Motorsport podcast that six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Lowndes was pushed by RBR.

"It's so clear he is being half-pushed out, or pushed out entirely," reigning Bathurst champ Reynolds said.

But RBR boss Roland Dane fired up over the suggestion before practice for the Ipswich SuperSprint began on Friday.

"To be honest, I couldn't care less what everyone else thinks about it," he told Fox Sports.

"Craig and I know the decision that he made, that I completely agree with and that I think was the right decision to make.

"He knows the facts. I know the facts.

"The only thing that really matters to me is ensuring that Craig is able to step out with his head held high."

Lowndes will switch to a co-driver enduro role next Supercars season while expected to juggle duties as a TV commentator and dabbling in the GT category with a rumoured debut at the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2019.

Dane said they had not worked out whether they would even replace Lowndes and run a third car next year.

Supercars stars Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen drive the other RBR entries.

"Again, I see all the keyboard warriors making their own minds up about what we are or aren't doing," Dane said.

"I can promise you that we have not made a decision yet on whether we'll run two, three or four cars next year."

Lowndes - fifth in the championship standings - last tasted victory at Ipswich in 2016.

He just missed the podium at the last round in Townsville, finishing fourth in both races.

Lowndes and Garth Tander are the only drivers to have raced at all 21 previous Ipswich rounds.

Ford's Scott McLaughlin leads the championship with 2,033 points, just 131 ahead of van Gisbergen with Reynolds third.

Craig Lowndes


Topics



'No place like home' – Kiwi motocross star refuelling in Dunedin before final push for maiden world title

With two rounds to go in the world motocross series, Dunedin rider Courtney Duncan is closer than ever before to securing her maiden world series crown.

The 22-year-old leads the circuit by 21 points with two events remaining but with a break in her schedule, she's enjoyed the chance to relax at home and reflect on what has been a near perfect season.

"No place like home," she said.

"Very happy with how the season's gone. If you had of asked me at the start of the year had I been four rounds into the season and had a 20 point lead, I would have been really stoked with that."

Despite being one of the top riders for the previous two seasons, Duncan's never held a lead like this going into the final two events of the season.

It means winning those final few races might not even be necessary – a thought she admits has crossed her mind.

"You do have that in the back of your mind - you don't have to go crazy to get those extra three points to take the win.

"I think I even showed that at the last round where I had two second [place finishes]. I didn't exactly need to [win] there."

That's not always been the case for Duncan who in previous seasons felt winning was the only option.

"If it takes a third place and I’m champion, at the end of the day, honestly, it doesn’t matter because my goal is to be world champion."

The mid-season three month break came at the perfect time for Duncan as she nurses fractures in her right foot.

"I'm not stressing about it, we've got a bit of time on our hands and I just have to make sure that I get healthy and fully heal before I start back."

Duncan returns to her European base in Brussels next week, before the final two events in September.

Courtney Duncan is enjoying her time in Dunedin before the final two rounds. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Supercars icon Craig Lowndes to end 21-year career at end of 2018 championship

Six-time Bathurst 1000 champion Craig Lowndes will call time on his 21-year Supercars career at the end of the 2018 championship.

An emotional Lowndes announced in Townsville on Friday that this year will be his final full-time season in the category.

The 44-year-old said he'd been discussing retirement with Triple Eight Race Engineering team boss Roland Dane for months but only came to a decision two weeks ago.

"Although my current contract with Triple Eight finishes in another 18 months time, both Roland and I have come to the decision that this will be my last full-time drive in a Supercar," Lowndes said.

"I've always said that Bathurst 2006 was the most emotional and toughest race I've ever done in my career but I can say with a heavy heart that this has been the hardest decision that myself and my team have had to make."

Lowndes claimed his 106th career race win earlier this year in Tasmania and heads into this weekend's Townsville 400 fourth on the championship standings.

He said he hadn't given up hope of going out on top, with a fourth career championship.

"I want to make sure I finish my last full-time season with some strong results in the bag," he said.

Lowndes retires from full-time driving as one of the most popular and successful drivers in the championship history.

He debuted for the Holden Racing Team as an endurance driver in 1994 before making his full-time debut in 1996, winning the first of his three championships that year.

After an unsuccessful stint in Europe in 1997, Lowndes returned to HRT winning the 1998 and 1999 championships before a controversial switch to Ford in 2000.

He joined Triple Eight in 2005, claiming five Bathurst titles while with the team including a win in 2006 just weeks after mentor Peter Brock died.

Teammate Jamie Whincup attended Friday's press conference along with Lowndes' wife Lara and former teammate Greg Murphy.

Lowndes will remain with Triple Eight as an endurance driver from 2019 onwards as well as joining Supercars' television broadcast team.

"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," Dane said.

Craig Lowndes


Topics