Driving in the bush is hard work
I DIDN’T realise how tough the Australasian Safari would be. It’s physically and mentally challenging and at times I’ve asked my co-driver, Kees Weel, when will it all end.
But I’ve also enjoyed it and would like to do more of this sort of driving. You’re racing for a lot longer, but it’s exciting.
I’m writing this a few days before you read it because the areas we are in are quite remote and this is a rare opportunity to communicate with the outside world.
At this stage I don’t know where we’ll finish, but we’re up at the pointy end and not pushing too hard as anything can happen.
I’ve seen people such as Tony Quinn, an accomplished circuit racer, sidelined by something as simple as a ruptured fuel tank.
You can’t go hard all the time. You have to pace yourself and drive wisely and hope the luck falls your way. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s like fronting up for a Bathurst race every day. Speaking of Bathurst, even though I’m out in the bush of Western Australia focusing on the dirt road ahead, I’m also focusing on Mount Panorama in a few weeks.
People have been asking me if Skaifey will start like he did at Phillip Island. That’s yet to be decided. Skaifey bravely took on the starting duties at the island even though he wasn’t used to our clutch set-up and had a bad start in his sprint race.
But most teams ran with their B driver first so they could be assured of getting their minimum laps completed and because there was only one driver change. That won’t be the case at Bathurst.
We’ll have several driver changes, so Skaifey won’t necessarily start. At the moment the plan is for me to start, but who knows what will be on the day? There are a lot of things to consider.
If Mark is doing better lap times than me, then I’m happy to give him the responsibility. He did a fantastic job at Phillip Island, attacking right from the start.
In fact, Skaifey has been dead serious all year about these endur- ance races and is 110 per cent focused on Bathurst.
He’d love to get his sixth victory and I’d love my fifth. He’s really pumped and he’s been working extremely hard on his fitness.
As he’s become more familiar with the car, the team and our mentality, he has really fitted in.
His hunger and keenness to do well have also really grown.
Next year our team gets a boost with Williams Formula One engineer John Russell joining us as the director of engineering and production.
His role will be to improve the reliability of our race cars. I’ve worked with him with FPR and he’s a fantastic man with great strength and talent.
A lot of people might criticise him from his FPR days, but the position he was in was not the correct one. Our team principal, Roland Dane, is an astute person who will make sure John’s new role brings a great deal of depth and strength to our team.
Before I started on the safari, I became involved with Suncorp Insurance to promote road safety over the school holidays.
It’s something that I’m really interested and enthusiastic about, just like Brocky was.
The idea is to tell people holiday road safety is about more than not speeding and having plenty of rest. It’s also about things such as packing your car correctly and knowing how to tow. We tow our caravan to race events and we’re really into camping, but you have to know what you are doing or it can be a recipe for disaster.
Bathurst every day: Craig Lowndes says the Safari is as demanding as Mt Panorama.Picture: Emma Weel