Who in their right mind would go testing without their driver? Well, we would.
No need to worry, we didn’t handcuff Lowndesy up in the basement of Red Bull Racing Australia HQ while we took his car out for a play at Queensland Raceway. He’s actually gallivanting through the Austrian hills, re-enacting The Sound of Music (he makes a wonderful Maria) before heading to Belgium to drive in the Spa 24 Hours.
Thankfully his partner in crime was waiting in the wings to step in, although it was a bit of a last minute reshuffle for Steve “Richo” Richards, who was supposed to be en route to Europe as we speak.
“I was originally booked to go over to Spa and join Craig over there, but when this opportunity came up it was too good to sit out,” he said. His new itinerary sees him flying to Europe tonight where he will drive the Lago Racing Lamborghini.
“Test days are usually the realm of the main drivers and Craig has kindly let me take over his car for the day, which is very rare and doesn’t normally happen, so when you get this sort of opportunity it’s good to try and make the most of it.”
This test has actually been a last minute change of plans, taking the place of our usual pre-Bathurst outing, as Team Manager Dutto explained in a chat with v8supercars.com.au: “We weren’t intending to do this one before – it’s purely to rectify our weakness that we feel we have on softs … the previous test we focused on hard tyres and saw the benefits from the hard work everyone put in at that test, as we improved our performance on the hard tyre at the Darwin round and also backed that up at Townsville. So that will be the main focus.”
Although Richo’s time in the car today will be more geared towards finding the key to the soft tyre for Craig over the coming Super Sprint rounds, getting this rare seat time in the #888 Holden is a win-win for the three-time Bathurst champ.
“There’s an element of me just coming to terms with the car and to be honest it already feels like home,” he said.
“Now it’s just running through the programme of things. (Car No.888 engineer) JJ has been giving me a few little different things in terms of when we do this to the car, this is what it feels like and then I can put that into the memory bank so that when we come to the races and practice, if something occurs I can give some valuable feedback when I’m in the car.”
We’re back here at QR just next week for the Ipswich 500, 1-3 August.