OK, so we might be more than a month away from Red Bull Racing Australia hitting the track again but that doesn’t mean we can’t start psyching ourselves up, right?
Right. So with the optimism of a New Year still inside us, we thought we’d talk about something we’ve had the holidays to mull over – the marriage of V8 Supercars royalty.
Of course, we’re talking about Steve Richards joining Red Bull Racing Australia to partner Lowndsey in the No.888 Commodore. And don’t be mistaken, this is no marriage of convenience. It’s one of purpose and meaning, and quite frankly, we’re a little surprised the coming together of these multiple Bathurst champions hasn’t happened sooner.
In racing terms, they’re perfect for each other in every way – and here’s seven reasons why.
1. They both made their full-time V8 Supercars debuts in 1996.
Yep, they were right under each other’s noses from the very beginning. And quite often, they were up in each other’s grills, too, with Richo claiming the 1999 Bathurst 1000 ahead of Lowndesy.
2. They are two of only four drivers to win Bathurst in both a Holden and a – ahem, cough – Ford.
With J-Dub, Tony Longhurst and Lowndesy, Richo is the only other driver to win The Great Race in both a Falcon and a Commodore, which surely deserves him legend status.
3. They are the most experienced driver duo in pit lane.
Well, this one’s not that hard to decipher – one look at their crows feet and it’s pretty obvious these blokes have been around the circuit more than most. Their combined aged is 80. But like Clooney, Pitt and Benjamin Button, these two just get better with age. It’s actually unfair on their rivals. Between them, they have 101 race wins and eight Bathurst 1000 titles.
4. Like ducks, they’re both renowned for being appearing calm on the surface and being furious toilers below it.
All sunshine and lollipops on the outside, don’t let their kind facades deceive you. Because, while they’re the best of blokes, they’re also the fiercest of competitors. They’re understated and patient, but history proves they’re plenty aggressive when they need to be and always know when to pounce.
5. They are two of the most endearing figures in the sport.
If it’s possible to be killed with kindness, it’s probable these are the two most likely. They don’t have an enemy between them and are almost incapable of not smiling.
6. They both have a connection to one of the greatest V8 Supercars partnerships of all time.
The Mark Skaife/Jim Richards combo is responsible for some of the most unforgettable endurance wins in touring car history – and undeniably the most controversial Bathurst win ever. Lowndes would go on to become a multiple Bathurst-winning partner of Skaife, while Richo’s ties are obvious.
7. Both have a strong connection to the late and great Peter Brock. While Lowndes was famously mentored by the nine-times Bathurst winner, Richo was quite literally brought up under the tutelage of Peter Perfect. As a child, Richo’s father, Jim, partnered Brock to three consecutive Bathurst 1000 wins – 1978, ’79 and ’80.
Well, there you have it, eight reasons why Lowndesy can go one better in 2014 – not that J-Dub and PD will be having a bar of it.
And on February 15, in a little over a month’s time, Richo will don his Red Bull Racing Australia suit for the first time and take Lowndesy’s No.888 VF Commodore for a spin at the V8 Supercars official test day at Eastern Creek.
Did we mention it was open to the public? Get involved, good people.