Craig Lowndes hopes his retirement from full-time Virgin Australia Supercars competition will open the door for him to make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut.
The three-time Supercars champion announced he will no longer race in the series on a full-season basis but will continue to represent Triple Eight Race Engineering in a co-driver capacity.
Lowndes, 44, has developed a keen sports car interest in recent years and has made several appearances at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
He won Australia’s flagship GT race overall in 2014 and 2017 with the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari squad, and has also competed in the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
“Although next year I’m retiring from driving Supercars, I’m not retiring full-time from driving,” confirmed Lowndes.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the co-driver lineup for Triple Eight. I’m looking forward to doing other things outside of Supercars.
“Le Mans is definitely on the bucket list and hopefully this will enable me to go and do that, which Roland [Dane, Triple Eight managing director] and the team will be supportive of.”
Lowndes believes that stepping back from the Supercars schedule, which covers 14 events from March to November, would free up time for him to contest races he has not yet ticked off his bucket list.
Lowndes, who has the most starts in Supercars history and the second-highest number of wins, is currently ranked platinum in the FIA driver rating system.
“It gives myself an opportunity to be able to do that and look into a world that at times has crossed over some of our events and rounds,” he said.
“I know damn well that [team-mate] Shane [van Gisbergen] and I, and a few others, look at the calendar as soon as it appears to see what we can do overseas.
“Roland has thankfully been very open and allowed Shane and I and Jamie [Whincup] to be able to do that. There’s definitely that opportunity.”
Lowndes added that any sports car racing involvement would be relevant to his new role with Triple Eight as a co-driver for the handful of endurance events.
“There’s no doubt that being a co-driver, you have to be sharp, you have to be race fit,” he said.
“Yes, I’ll be looking for other things throughout the year to be able to continue that side of it, and there’s no doubt I will be involved as an ambassador for the team.
“Test days, co-driving days… all that. There’s no doubt I’ll still be inside a race car at some point, but beyond the Supercars side I’ll be looking to keep race fit.”