Craig Lowndes is a huge star of Australian motorsport with his seven Bathurst 1000 wins the banner head achievements of his amazing career.
Now part of the Fox Sports Supercars broadcast team in addition to his endurance race duties with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, Lowndes has conquered Mount Panorama seven times in the October classic in a range of V8-powered Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons.
However, while all seven of his Bathurst 1000-winning cars safely remain either in the hands of collectors, under restoration or in storage, his Bathurst 12 Hour-winning cars sadly get largely overlooked.
But the good news is that both have survived, albeit with a few bumps and bangs along the way for one of them.
Lowndes has two Bathurst 12 Hour wins, both times at the wheel of Maranello Motorsport Ferraris. In 2014 he teamed up with ex-F1 ace Mika Salo, John Bowe and Maranello co-owner Peter Edwards in a 458 GT3 to win and repeated the dose in a 488 GT3 model in 2017 with Jamie Whincup and factory ace Toni Vilander.
Photos of these Ferraris, plus shots of every other car to compete in the 12 Hour in the last decade (since GT3 regulations were introduced in 2011), are included in a new 320-page hardcover book ‘Bathurst: Going Global’ being put together by long-time 12 Hour commentator Richard Craill and publisher Aaron Noonan that tells the story of the race’s evolution over the last 10 years.
Lowndes held off the charging Mercedes-Benz of German Maximilian Buhk in the closing stages of the 2014 race, a result that really put the race on the map, especially given the close fight watched by a solid TV viewing audience.
“I had to give it (the brake pedal) a couple of pumps going into the Chase, (so I’m) very thankful the time ran out and we didn’t have to do another lap,” Lowndes said at the time of the win.
“I was doing my best, running on the inside lines, making the Merc go around the long way, thankfully we had enough.”
The winning 458 returned to the Mountain the following year though without Lowndes – 2015 was the year Supercars scheduled their pre-season ‘SuperTest’ on the same weekend as the 12 Hour – leaving the ‘14 race-winning Ferrari to be piloted by Salo, Tony D’Alberto and Brit Ben Collins, who had previously been ‘The Stig’ on BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ program.
But D’Alberto biffed the Italian stallion into the wall after a tangle at Forrest’s Elbow in opening practice, sidelining it from the rest of the weekend.
“The 2014 458 GT3 flew to the factory for major works post the D’Alberto shunt in practice,” recalls Maranello Motorsport boss Mark Coffey.
“It’s sitting with the 488 here in the workshop under some nice lights on display and gets worshipped by many people that come in here!
“These days both cars do track days where we use them as a bit of a carrot for the guys that buy Challenge and other GT Ferrari cars for track day purposes.
“We take a bunch of cars to Phillip Island or up to Winton or to The Bend and roar around and the 12 Hour winners add some wow factor to what they’re doing and show what we can do as a company.”
So, what would it take to secure a piece of Ferrari, Bathurst and Lowndes history?
Coffey says they’re not for sale at any price from he and his Maranello business partner Peter Edwards.
“When you consider a new 488 is 625,000 Euro, that’s over a million Australian dollars, so that makes a car with race history over one without it, albeit new, as more valuable.
“When you add in the success it all helps for the credibility of the car – but they’re not for sale.”
Coffey says the 2017-winning 488 GT3 is currently undergoing preparation for its next outing.
“The 488 has had a few GT races since the ’17 12 Hour and we’re hoping to enter a few events this year if the Australian GT Championship gets a credible package together with its television coverage and commercial arrangements that creates a showcase for sponsorship and ignites other aspects of the sport for competitors like us to get their value and come and race.”
No matter their future racing plans, the fact that these pieces of Ferrari, Bathurst and Lowndes racing history remain in the country is a huge win for Aussie motorsport fans.
Source: Fox Sports