Supercars legend Craig Lowndes has some bucket-list races he wants to tick off and won’t take umbrage at being designated a rookie if he gets a start in the famous Le Mans 24-hour event.
The 44-year-old, three-time Supercars champion and seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner finished as a full-time Supercars driver at the end of last year, but will still do the enduro events in 2019.
He’s got the Bathurst 12-hour race in February and will be involved in media coverage of Supercars.
His enduring popularity was underlined in December when he was named ABC Sports Personality of the Year.
Great night at the #AIS Sports Performance Awards. Big thank you to everyone that voted. I’m very humbled to be awarded the ABC Sports Personality of the Year. What a way for @laralowndes and I to celebrate our anniversary #VASC #ASPAs 👍😄 pic.twitter.com/FyHJYcUcZR
— Craig Lowndes (@craiglowndes888) December 14, 2018
Lowndes has made no secret of his desire to do the Le Mans race, something he has pondered for close to a quarter of a century.
“There’s been opportunities in the past, but unfortunately it’s either clashed with Supercar rounds here in Australia, or we’ve been away and done other things, so it has been on the agenda since probably almost 1996,” Lowndes said.
‘It’s just getting the contacts with race teams.
‘We already know the 2019 race weekend of Le Mans clashes with the Darwin race in Supercars, so thankfully I’ve been allowed to, if I can procure a drive, to be able to be released and be able to go and do that if I can.
“Now it’s just putting out the feelers and seeing what’s out there.
“It’s a massive race. Growing up watching Bathurst, is what I’ve always wanted to do, lucky enough to now win it seven times, but to do a Le Mans is probably another level again.
“When I did Formula 3000 I raced against Tom Kristensen and he’s been a multiple (record nine-time) Le Mans winner.”
Lowndes hopes the fact he raced for factory teams and won international races like Bathurst would get him classified as a platinum rookie, the highest of the four rookie levels for Le Mans.
Among the 2018 Le Mans rookies were Formula One world champions, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Asked about potentially being labelled a rookie, Lowndes quipped “I’m looking forward to that”.
Lowndes has accumulated plenty of overseas experience, driving in Formula 3000 in 1997 while being based in Austria and finished eighth in the Spa 24 hour race in 2014.
While Kiwis Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen filled the top two places on the 2018 Supercars table, Lowndes was confident emerging Australians Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters and Todd Hazelwood would perform well this year.