WHAT’S HAPPENING IN CRAIG’S WORLD? - APRIL 2018
Australia is a sports obsessed country and we have the highest regard for the hundreds of professional athletes competing in their chosen sport, at an elite level.
With that regard comes enthusiasm and expectation, and as a professional sportsman, I can tell you that it adds to the pressure you feel, when competing. You don’t want to let your team, your fans and your supporters down.
All of which made 2017 immensely frustrating for me, as we struggled to find the sweet spot with our Holden Commodore in the Supercar Championship.
Sure, we won the first event of the year, the Bathurst 12 Hour race for GT cars with Ferrari, but I had a winless season otherwise in the Supercars, my first in more than 10 years.
Coming into 2018 I was determined to turn that around, and I am pleased to say from the very start of the year we have been much more competitive than last season.
It all came together beautifully in the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint, the third Supercar Championship weekend of the year, when I qualified fourth for the Saturday race and finished second, and then dominated Sunday at the Symmons Plains circuit.
We put it on pole position and ran away with the race, to score our first win of the year.
And how fantastic to do it at the annual Tyrepower naming rights event of the Supercars series!
Obviously winning is what sport is always about and when you do it at Supercar Championship level, you know you have beaten the very best in the country … in a series that is arguably the most competitive of its type in the world.
That’s a great feeling and, reflecting my earlier comments, it’s nice to give back some success to our many fans and supporters. But most of all it was terrific to be able to reward the whole Autobarn Lowndes Racing team.
Collectively my Triple Eight team has worked ridiculously hard to give me a car to win with and the opportunity to put it all together, and winning is the best way to thank them for all their hard work.
At the end of the day, like in business, it’s a team effort and it’s a great feeling to be able to share success together.
From the short and sharp Symmons Plains circuit in Tasmania we moved to the ultra-fast and open Phillip Island track in Victoria, a place best known for its penguins and the annual MotoGP.
Although the track layouts between the two are completely different, what we’d learned in Tasmania and at the two race weekends before that, all contributed to the knowledge base that allowed us to continue our competitiveness at Phillip Island.
For Saturday’s race we qualified fifth, which became fourth after a penalty for another competitor, and then in the race the same thing happened … we actually finished fifth but that became fourth after another penalty!
Irrespective, it was great to race at the front again, and despite not having the pace we needed in the first half of the race, we were strong in the second half and almost made the podium.
On Sunday at Phillip Island we just didn’t nail it in qualifying, as sometimes happens, you don’t need to be far off the perfect lap to be well down the field in such a competitive series.
In the race, though, the car was good, our stops were clean and the strategy solid, and we found ourselves seventh. A good recovery for us I think.
So overall a solid weekend for us, not quite the success of Symmons of course, but fantastic to back that result up with two races running well inside the top ten. Hopefully we can make that a habit throughout the rest of the 2018 season.
We left Phillip Island fourth in the Supercars Championship. With a lot of races and points on offer for the rest of the year, it’s a strong position to be in.