Not ready for scrap heap yet

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JAMES PHELPS

CRAIG Lown­des has de­clared he is not “too old” to be a Su­per­cars force, re­veal­ing if he thought his ca­reer was on the slide he “would have walked away”.

Out to defy his crit­ics by break­ing through to win his first race of the sea­son at this week’s Townsville Su­per Sprint, Lown­des said he would have quit as a full- time driver and taken up a lu­cra­tive deal to race en­durance events if he thought he could not win an­other cham­pi­onship.

Lown­des, 43, re­cently signed a new deal with Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing to race for at least an­other two years.

“I would have walked away,’’ Lown­des said.

“I had a frank con­ver­sa­tion with the boss about what I could do and we both thought I wasn’t stay­ing around too long. I am not go­ing to work my way back­wards through the field and the goal is to fin­ish my main- game ca­reer on a high.

“I think I can win races and if that wasn’t the case then I wouldn’t be here.’’

Head­ing to Townsville fol­low­ing a poor sea­son start, Lown­des ad­mit­ted he could not win this year’s ti­tle. But the three- time se­ries cham­pion is still tar­get­ing a top- three fin­ish.

“My main aim is to get in the top five,’’ Lown­des said.

“And then push into the top three. It is a long shot but that is the goal. We just haven’t had the con­sis­tency so far and I can hon­estly say we are not go­ing to win the cham­pi­onship this year.’’

De­spite not greet­ing the che­quered flag first this year, the Holden star has won more races than any other driver in his­tory with 105 vic­to­ries to his name.

“I don’t feel the pres­sure,’’ Lown­des said. “Peo­ple are go­ing to ask the ques­tion about age but for me it is not an is­sue. The rea­son I am rac­ing is be­cause I am fit, healthy and mo­ti­vated. My re­sults are im­por­tant but I am ex­pect­ing those re­sults to come in the sec­ond half of the year.”

Lown­des said he needed to find con­sis­tency and qual­i­fy­ing speed af­ter hav­ing a new chief engi­neer parachuted into his team this year.

“We needed a test day and we got that,’’ Lown­des said.

“That came be­fore Dar­win and I think peo­ple saw the im­prove­ment we had there. Qual­i­fy­ing has been be­low par and we haven’t given our­selves a chance. But the race pace has been en­cour­ag­ing and there is no doubt we have been able to come back through speed and strat­egy. The mis­sion now is to start at the front and not the back.

“Get­ting in the top- ten shootout at Dar­win was a start and now we will see how far we came at our test day in Townsville. That will tell us how much we achieved in that test.’’

DE­TER­MINED: Su­per­cars le­gend Craig Lown­des has no plans to walk away from the sport.

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