High and low of victory
STANDING on top of the Bathurst podium having scored a one-two victory and also recording the fastest lap was a high point in my career.
But I also felt a little empty not having my wife Nat and my kids, Levi and Chilli, there.
The kids came along the previous three or four years and it’s been a long time since Nat hasn’t been trackside at Bathurst.
She couldn’t make it this year because she’s still convalescing after her spleen problems. So it was sort of an empty feeling.
It would have been nice to celebrate with the family, but I spoke to them straight afterwards. Nat was very proud and the kids were happy that I said hello to them on the podium.
With media commitments on the Monday and then floods cutting me off from the farm on the Tuesday, it was a long time before I got to share the moment with the whole family in person.
I don’t know if Mark (Skaife) and I will be back together for the enduros next year.
I’d love to be able to have the opportunity to have him back, but I’ll sit down with our team principal Roland (Dane) this week and we’ll analyse the event and see where we’re positioned.
Mark was happy with the team atmosphere, how we work and our chemistry driving together, so I’m sure he would like to come back.
Of course I’ll never catch up to his Bathurst win record as long as we’re driving together so he’d be quite happy with that scenario, too.
Mark was pretty sore after the race with his popped rib.
I didn’t know I’d be driving all the way to the checkered flag when I got into the car for what was ultimately the final stint.
My race engineer, Jeromy (Moore), asked me whether I was still comfortable and I said I was.
We had talked about it as a possibility and I was happy to do a long stint, but I didn’t realise the full reasoning.
Meanwhile, Mark was getting his back worked on by our team physio, Chris Brady.
Mark said it happened as he was going through the Dipper and it was like someone had stabbed him in the back. Fortunately it was at the end of his stint and he was able to hang on.
His ribs are still a little sore, but he’ll be fine.
I felt great in the car right up to the end and it was only later when I was sitting in the press conference and the adrenalin was starting to drain away that the aches and pains came out. But I pulled up better than I expected for having done 79 laps straight.
We were worried all race about fuel consumption but Jeromy calculated it spot on. There was only enough petrol left in the tank at the end for about another half a lap.
On the podium I dropped the winner’s champagne to Jason Briggs in the crew for everyone to share around.
But we didn’t do much celebrating at the track. We usually save that until dinner that night with all the team from catering to merchandising.
I’ve very rarely seen Roland so choked up as he was at the dinner. People were only then starting to realise what we had achieved as a team.
I’ve since heard about the complaints on Twitter over Seven’s delayed coverage, and I must say I agree.
People need to remember there is always a slight delay, but 20-odd minutes was excessive.
In these days of instant communication with Twitter, Facebook and mobile phones it is more evident to the fans if there is a delay.
Seven could easily have made up the time in safety car periods.
The other important thing for me about Bathurst was that the result jumped me up from sixth to third in the standings.
Drivers always talk about being in or out of the championship after Bathurst and I can declare we are back in the hunt with less than 300 points separating the top four.
Now my attention is turning to the Gold Coast 600 where Mark returns to the commentary box and I share a drive with touring car legend Andy Priaulx.
We have a rookie day next Wednesday at Queensland Raceway, but Andy is hardly a rookie having been a three-time world touring car champion and having driven at Bathurst before.
One-two victory: Team Vodafone’s formation finish at Bathurst last weekend and (below) Lowndes and Skaife celebrating their win.
V8 Supercar champion