Craig Lowndes will get his first laps in a Porsche 911 GT3 R in practice for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, having not been able to undertake any pre-event testing with Earl Bamber Motorsport.
The seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner was announced as part of EBM’s all-pro lineup for this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season opener, sharing the Porsche with reigning IMSA GT Le Mans champions Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.
While EBM tested at Sepang last month, Lowndes was not able to attend the test, leaving the Virgin Australia Supercars legend without any experience of the rear-engined GT3 car heading into the event.
“Porsche I’ve never raced before so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Lowndes told Sportscar365.
“I know the circuit really well, it’s just a matter of getting my head around the dynamics of the car, especially the new 911 GT3 R.
“From what I can read it’s a step up from last year, so yeah, really excited to understand the car, to feel the balance of the car. People are saying it’s a nice car and an easy car to drive, which I’m excited to be a part of.”
The Supercars endurance co-driver is no stranger to tackling the Bathurst 12 Hour in new machinery, having completed the race in a Ferrari 458 GT3, Ferrari 488 GT3, McLaren 650s GT3 and a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the past.
He’s won the race in both generations of Ferrari machinery, in 2014 and 2017, respectively.
“It is [a challenge but] I’ve done many GT3 races in different cars and managed to adapt to the cars pretty quickly,” Lowndes said.
“The circuit itself, I don’t really need to know too much more about it, but [the new car] for me is going to be the challenge. I’ve spoken to Earl just to get my head around where they’re at, what they’re doing and he’s giving me a lot of feedback of what to expect with the car.
“My main focus when I get to the 12 Hour is to do miles; I’ll leave it up to Laurens and Earl to do more of the set up unless we get to a point where we can contribute to that side of it.
“For me it’s exciting knowing they’re the reigning winners of the 12 Hour but [also] heading back there in a Porsche.”
Lowndes Still Eyeing Sports Car Opportunities
The 45-year old has made no secret of a desire to compete in international sports car racing, with his retirement from full-time Supercars racing in 2018 allowing for more opportunities and Lowndes particularly eyeing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
While he is yet to confirm any additional appearances, Lowndes says he would only be lured by events that fit in with his schedule given his broadcast commitments with Fox Sports Australia for Supercars and his endurance co-drive with Triple Eight.
Notably, neither this year’s Le Mans test day and Le Mans 24 Hours clash with any Supercars events.
“If there are more opportunities to do more racing this year I’d definitely jump at it. [I’m] just [going to] focus on the 12 Hour, do my part, try and create a relationship with Porsche and see where it takes me,” Lowndes said.
“The biggest sort of hurdle I have is the commentating side of it. I’ve always had Supercars rounds regardless because of the Fox connection.
“Le Mans has definitely been on my hit list since back in the [Holden Racing Team] days, so if an opportunity arose, yes the dates don’t clash again which is fantastic, so if something was to come up we’d definitely look at it that’s for sure.
“I’m going to be realistic and not going to go and try and do the outright win to start with but you definitely want to work your way towards that end of the field.”