HOLDEN veteran Craig Lowndes is out to turn back time, adamant he can once again become a championship contender.
On the eve of the Supercars’ season-opening race in Adelaide, Lowndes, 43, revealed he was aiming for a top-three finish in this year’s championship in his new ZB Commodore that “suits my style’’.
Still the biggest name in the sport, Lowndes slumped his way to a career-worst championship finish last year when a final-race crash with Scott McLaughlin pushed him back to 10th.
“My goal is to be back up the front,’’ Lowndes said.
“Obviously I want to be back in the top three again. Last year was very disappointing. I was fighting for sixth in the championship until that crash put us back to 10th. I need to be consistent this year.’’
The Triple Eight driver claimed the all-new Commodore ZB would help him in his mission to challenge Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and McLaughlin to become a championship contender.
“This one (car) suits my style,’’ Lowndes said.
“It lacks a bit in the front but it has great stability in the rear. That is how I like it and what I need is what this car has got. We just have to get the balance right and maximise the tyre. I just have to qualify near the front to be in the race.’’
Lowndes is looking forward to hitting the track in Adelaide tomorrow (Friday) and begin the rescue mission to continue his proud V8 legacy.
“I am looking forward to the season,’’ Lowndes said.
“We had a good hitout at Sydney Motorsport Park with the new Commodore and we started unlocking its secrets. But now it becomes important with the season starting and a big race in Adelaide.
“This is the start of the championship and the team or driver that has a good round here generally has a good championship. You need to get the momentum started early.’’
And for Lowndes, that all comes down to being comfortable with his new car on the unforgiving Adelaide circuit.
“You need confidence coming here,’’ Lowndes said.
“Ninety per cent of the corners are blind so you need that confidence in your car. You need to have good stability under brakes and you need the car to respond to what you do.’’
Lowndes believes this year’s championship will again go down to the wire, predicting
Nissan Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing to rise and join Triple Eight and DJR/Team Penske as contenders for the crown.
“You can’t discount the Nissans this season,’’ Lowndes said.
“They had some good races and good performances last year and they will only be better this year.
“They have got the speed when they unlock it. I think SMP also showed the Brad Jones cars will be quick this year. They are generally good at street circuits so it may suit them this weekend. I think you have plenty of teams that will be in the mix this year.’’
The Adelaide 500 begins with Friday practice then 500km of racing over the weekend.