V8 Supercars legend Craig Lowndes will make history this week at the Clipsal 500 as he becomes the first man in the sport to start 251 race events.
To celebrate this impressive achievement, Lowndes hit Adelaide’s iconic Glenelg beach this morning where he was joined by a sand-sculpted version of his TeamVortex No.888 VF Holden Commodore.
The record, held by Russell Ingall until the Sydney 500 last year when Lowndes equalled his tally, is a significant milestone for the six-time Bathurst 1000 winner, who has been a championship contender more often than not over the last 20 years.
“It’s a pretty great feeling to be the first driver to crack the record,” said Lowndes.
“From humble beginnings, I couldn’t have even pictured going into 2016 about to start my 251st race round backed by TeamVortex, it really is exciting and I am in a great position.”
It’s a fitting time for Lowndes to be crowned the sport’s most experienced driver, as this week also marks the debut of the 41-year-old’s brand new squad, TeamVortex.
The Caltex-backed No.888 entry makes up one third of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s expanded operation, the Brisbane-based team Lowndes has been with since 2006 and with whom he has clocked up 153 of those 251 event starts.
“I’m really excited to have TeamVortex created around me and thrilled to have the continued support of Australia’s leading fuel supplier, Caltex, over the next two seasons.
“The one thing that I really wanted was the 888 number – I’ve been carrying 888 for almost 10 years, and it’s nice to be able to carry that across.”
Throughout his career, Lowndes has graced the Clipsal podium nine times, winning six races, including the inaugural race in 1999. He is also one of just two drivers in this year’s line-up to have competed in every single running of the Adelaide event.
“Clipsal is one of the toughest races of the season. As it is a street circuit, temperature is always a very big factor over there. It is a circuit where if you’ve had a successful weekend you get that momentum started and of course you start the championship off on a positive note.”
Lowndes narrowly missed taking home the Driver’s Championship last year, coming in a close second behind Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom. Proving that age is just a number, Lowndes welcomes the new season, ready to dive in head first, having fully recovered from an injury to his collarbone sustained earlier this year in a recreational motorcycle accident.
“I’m feeling confident going into Clipsal. After a successful test day I feel much better, as does my body. Knowing that Clipsal is a street circuit, they always tend to be a little more demanding on you physically.”
The V8 Supercars hit the track on Friday for two practice sessions and two qualifying sessions ahead of Saturday’s two 125km races, finishing with a taxing 250km mini-marathon on Sunday.