CRAIG Lowndes has not won a Supercars race this season and only once stood on the podium, yet he will still rank as one of the favourites for Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
Given his record at Mount Panorama – he’s won the Great Race six times and stood on the podium on another seven occasions – it’s easy to see why he is rated so highly.
But it is not just his resume at the famed track – he’s also won the Bathurst 12 Hour twice – that makes Lowndes a threat.
Though every driver on the grid would love to win this year’s Peter Brock Trophy, Lowndes’ desire to succeed is matched with the experience of 23 prior Great Race campaigns.
“I think there’s no doubt that the endurance part of the season is part of the year that I really enjoy and I’ve always been quite vocal about I'd rather win a Bathurst than a championship,” he said.
“Though I wouldn’t not want to take a championship, Bathurst for me is like the grand final, it has been ever since I got involved.
“If you are going to win one of the majors of the year, Bathurst is certainly high on my agenda.”
Lowndes is partnered with Steve Richards – himself a four-times Bathurst 1000 winner – for this year’s race.
The pair who won the 2015 Great Race placed 11th at last month’s Sandown 500, but given their #888 Commodore started in position 23 after a mechanical failure in qualifying, it was a good effort.
That result has Lowndes sitting eighth in the drivers’ championship – a lower than usual spot for the man who has finished no worse than fourth since 2011.
Still, Lowndes is confident he can improve on his position with the help of his team.
“I need to start winning races, yes, if I’m going to be anywhere near the championship or the top of the tree. We’ve been up there, sixth, seventh, eighth,” he said.
"There’s no doubt that this year has been one of the toughest I’ve seen in competition, it’s great to see Team Penske have stepped up and they’re really the team that have dominated the season so far.
“But there’s no doubt that Triple Eight, as a collective team, have been working very hard behind the scenes and I think it’s a good, healthy rivalry. There’s no doubt having other teams step up is great for the sport as well, it drives us as a team to look for different things and better things.
“We are confident going into the endurance part of the year, it is definitely a strong part for us as a team. We’ve made some mistakes throughout the year and it’s been a tough championship ... it’s not just having a good race anymore, you’re going to have to have a fast car, good drivers, clean starts, qualify well, you need everything over the weekend to be right.
“It’s a great part of the season, it tests everyone, not only drivers, but teams and strategy to obviously having a bit of luck go your way.”