MOTORSPORT: Is this Lowndes’ last race car? - Michael Smerigli

MOTORSPORT: Is this Lowndes’ last race car?

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Crunch season looms for Supercars icon as Craig Lowndes reveals his 2018 ZB Commodore racer

Craig Lowndes has unveiled the new-generation ZB Holden Commodore that could be his last full-time drive in Supercars.

While he enters the first year of a new two-year contract in 2018, the most popular man in Supercars racing has previously made it clear he needs a strong performance this season or his full-time future in the category will be in doubt.

In 2017, Lowndes went winless and finished only 10th in the championship. A rebound in form in 2018 is expected to ensure he continues full-time, but he has acknowledged another mediocre year could see him co-driving from 2019 onwards.

The six-time Bathurst 1000 winner and three-time category champion took the wraps off his new car in Brisbane this evening, weeks ahead of its racing debut at the Adelaide 500 on March 2-4.

After two years racing under the Caltex Vortex banner, Lowndes swaps to Autobarn branding for 2018.

The Triple Eight Race Engineering satellite team is now known as Autobarn Lowndes Racing. Despite what the name suggest, Lowndes has no ownership share in the squad.

“Tonight is the perfect opportunity to not only reveal our new livery and car, but also to launch our exciting new team in Autobarn Lowndes Racing,” Lowndes said.

“The team have worked hard over the off-season to get the new car ready and the fresh look of the livery on the new body shape is something to be excited about ahead of the season.”

Autobarn has been a personal sponsor of Lowndes’ for 15 years and a T8 sponsor for five years. T8 minority owner Paul Dumbrell is an executive at Bapcor Limited, the parent of Autobarn. Originally, the Dumbrell family established the Autobarn accessories and parts business before selling it on.

Lowndes has raced for Triple Eight since 2005 and first raced in the championship full-time in 1996 for the Holden Racing Team. He has made 634 career starts in the touring car/Supercars championship.

“The first race event in Adelaide couldn’t come quick enough for me and the team. I can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do in the car,” Lowndes said

It was also confirmed tonight that Steven Richards will continue as Lowndes’ partner in the long-distance races into a fifth season. The duo won Bathurst together in 2015.

The ZB Commodore Supercar is based on the body shape of the imported new-model Holden road-car being imported from Opel in Germany that goes on sale in February.

The factory-backed Red Bull Holden Racing Team, also owned by Triple Eight Race Engineering, unveiled its ZBs for Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen earlier in January.

About Michael Smeriglio Racing Corp.

The Michael Smeriglio Racing Corp., MSIII Racing, has won the Nascar Whelen Modified Tour Championship three years running. Along with his driver, Doug Coby and crew chief, Phil Moran they are creating a dynasty in short track racing on the east coast.