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Lowndes wraps up 2013 with a fourth Barry Sheene Medal

The week just keeps getting for Red Bull Racing Australia with Craig Lowndes last night being awarded his fourth Barry Sheene Medal for most popular driver at the V8 Supercars end-of-season Gala Dinner.

Still basking in the after glow of the driver and teams’ championship wins, Red Bull Racing Australia suited up James Bond-style to hit Sydney’s Star City last night and collect the coveted awards, in the process adding another to the collection when Lowndesy was announced as the year’s most popular personality. Any surprises there, folks?

It’s the ultimate trifecta for Red Bull Racing Australia in its debut season and another coup for Lowndesy who helped Red Bull to a one-two season finish and has now won the Barry Sheene medal twice as many times as any other driver.

We caught up with the guys beforehand to see just how they were coping with next to no sleep and how they felt about the season, now they’d had a little time to reflect.

And with 11 race wins, a further 10 podiums and 13 pole positions  – Jamie Whincup’s claims on the 2013 V8 Supercars title are undeniable.

He’s a champion through and through, now having earned himself a place alongside V8 greats such as Mark Skaife and Dick Johnson with a whopping five titles. And at age 30, he’s also the youngest ever driver to do. No big deal…

Yesterday afternoon after we paid a visit to J-Dub, Lowndesy and RD in their hotel rooms as they prepped for the Gala Dinner to get the wash-up of Red Bull Racing Australia’s debut 1-2 championship finish and teams’ championship victory – because hey, there’s no “I” in driver. Actually, there is, but don’t tell J-Dub that. Lacking sleep and still enjoying the spoils of victory, he was getting all metaphorical and adamant he’d unearthed the secret to team morale – and the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices…

“To be honest, it’s somewhat embarrassing being up on the podium by myself – it’s a huge team effort to get there,” J-Dub said.

“We’re all equal and without everyone’s contributions, my job wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. But I am thankful I get one of the fun jobs. Haha.

“But honestly, what means even more is that we’ve finished one-two three years in a row, which for one team is massive. A lot of people say it’s boring but they’re just trying to steal our soul at the end of the day. We’ll keep going and doing what we do and love the sport as much as we can. I couldn’t be any happier right now.”

And as for joining the five-time club now you’ve had time to reflect?

“I’m a huge fan of Skaifey and what he did, so to join him on that number of championships, it’s just massive for me,” J-Dub continues.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year behind the scenes with this new car. We’ve had to refine it from scratch and that just makes it all the more rewarding.

“It’s just been a grind this year and it’s such a relief and so enjoyable. Woohoo!”

J-Dub can be forgiven for a sleepless night. As can the rest of the RBRA team, who spent the night celebrating the greatest feat possible in Australian motorsport – a driver championship, teams’ championship and a one-two championship finish for both its cars.

It assures that Red Bull will keep the No.1 number and garage in 2014 and is arguably Triple Eight’s most significant result in its 10-year history – celebrated this year. For the 2013 championships came under the all-new Car of the Future regulations, which saw each and every car on the grid share almost identical componentry – from chassis, to gearbox, tyres and more.

“I’m very, very proud of everyone’s achievement at getting our third one-two in a row and being able to deliver for Red Bull in their first season and continuing to be the top Holden team,” an almost emotional RD added.

“For us, everything we set out to do we’ve achieved. We would have liked to have won Bathurst as well but we got close and overall the team’s done an outstanding job at the end of the day.”

And as for Lowndesy, he finished just short of his team-mate for the third straight year but that trademark smile is never far from the three-time champion’s face – hence the Barry Sheene Medal.

“We take the positives out of the year and we’ve reached some great milestones,” Lowndesy said.

“We took over Skaife’s all-time race wins record in Perth which was fantastic and we’ve had a very successful year to put ourselves in championship contention.

“We’ve some great results and great wins and we’ll take a lot of confidence into next year. We’re the only car to have finished every race this year and the team’s been great.

“And as for Jamie, he’s a legend. He has had a great year and there’s no doubt about that.  He qualifies extremely well and has had the most poles. And from there, you can go on to great results rather than fighting back from bad results.

“Qualifying is what hurts me but I’ll work on it for next year. And as a team, as a whole, you couldn’t ask for a better finish for Red Bull – 1-2 in the championship and the teams’ championship.”

V8 Supercars is a team sport and without the support of each and every Lowndes, Whincup, Triple Eight and Red Bull fan, Red Bull Racing Australia wouldn’t be basking in the glow of championship glory today.

So, thank you one and all for all your support, barracking, well wishes, attendance and affection in 2013 – we couldn’t have done it with you!

Until next time, Gadget….