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CRAIG LOWNDES: SIMULATOR, RETURNED TO SENDER ASAP

CRAIG Lowndes could not part with his simulator quick enough.

WORDS: Mark Walker IMAGES: Mark Walker, Mark Horsburgh/Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup

Featuring on this week’s edition of the On the Grid podcast, the seven time Bathurst 1000 champ recounted the story of when the chequered flag dropped after his two wildcard starts in the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries, as well as an appearance in the celebrity race, the screwdrivers immediately came out of the toolbox.

“I did a Rick Kelly – as soon as that last race was done, I dismantled the sim,” said Lowndes.

“As soon as that Zoom lap top went down, Discord got disconnected, the sim got unplugged and pulled apart, and I’ve taken it straight to the race team… and I even had Roland Dane look at me, as I’ve walked it straight onto the second floor and into the board room where it’s now housed.

“’Oh, you’re over it?’

“’Yes, I was over it a little while ago…”

For Lowndes, his late start in the series and lack of previous simulator experience, meant that he was starting well behind the eight ball, especially when compared to the aces at the front of the field.

“When you take away an element from a race driver, that tactile feel of what the car is doing underneath you, it really does upset you completely,” continued Lowndes.

”It’s then all hand-eye coordination, you’ve really got to sense what the car is doing by your hands, by the feel of the vibration of the pedals, the steering wheel, you don’t get that seat of your pants feel underneath you.”

The COVID-19 induced break came after a Porsche flavoured start to the season for Lowndes, where initially he teamed up with Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthor at the Bathurst 12 Hour, before making his Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup debut at the Australian Grand Prix, above.

Lowndes explained to On the Grid that the drives were a part of possible bigger things with the German marque moving forward, although those plans now appear to be on hold.

“No doubt, the whole aim in doing the Carrera Cup race was to get some seat time, and hopefully look at doing something later in the year, like a Le Mans or a Spa or something else, but of course with all this lock down, that all stopped,” said Lowndes.

“There is talk that maybe Le Mans gets pushed back to later this year, whether that is the reality, I don’t know.

“The whole plan was just to keep getting seat time, do some driving, do some different stuff, work within the Porsche family, which has been fantastic, and really for me, we’ll see what the rest of the season looks like.”

The enforced break for Lowndes proved to be a massive change of pace, with his busy schedule grinding to a complete halt.

“Straight out of the Melbourne Grand Prix and we came out of that meeting and isolated, obviously because there were some people who turned out to be positive from that weekend, so we isolated for 14 days” said Lowndes.

“So we went from being very busy in the sense of hotels, airports, race tracks, to absolutely not doing anything.

“To be honest it was a really strange position for me to be in, because we are always busy all of the time.

“I actually got to the point where I woke up and asked Lara ‘what day is it?’, I lost track of what was going on!

“In the flip side of it, it was actually great – I was able to complete a lot of the projects that I had started… Lara always called me a half job Harry, but now I can say that’s not the case!”

One the projects that received attention was the restoration of his original Formula Ford, as previously documented on The Race Torque.

Lowndes however will be back on the road next weekend as a part of the TV crew on the ground at Sydney Motorsport Park.

His thoughts on that event, the latest goings on from within the Red Bull Holden Racing Team bunker, and much more, can be played or downloaded below, or via your favourite podcasting app.