LOWNDES WINS PRESTIGIOUS BARRY SHEENE MEDAL AT V8 SUPERCAR AWARDS BANQUET
Caltex Ambassador and Triple Eight Race Engineering driver Craig Lowndes has scored a unique double by winning the prestigious Barry Sheene Medal for the second consecutive year at the V8 Supercar Championship Series annual dinner at the Crown Casino in Melbourne last night.
The ever-popular Lowndes won the coveted Barry Sheene Medal for his outstanding leadership, personality, fan appeal and sportsmanship, putting aside the controversies of the end of the 2006 season at Phillip Island last weekend.
A team of panellists from the major metropolitan media, motorsport magazines and commentators voted at every round of the championship to award the Barry Sheene Medal that honours the former motorsport legend and V8 Supercar commentator.
Lowndes was glowing in his praise of the Caltex-backed Triple Eight squad for its stellar performance this season.
"It's an honour to receive this award two years in a row," said Lowndes.
"We've had a great year, winning Bathurst and coming so close to winning the championship. The entire Triple Eight Race Engineering team has done a sensation job all season and they should feel really proud of what we have all achieved this season.
"I also have to thank my 'whiz kid' team-mate, Jamie Whincup, for bringing us the Bahturst victory. I think he really came of age this season is an outstanding team-mate."
V8 Supercars Australia Chairman Tony Cochrane congratulated Lowndes on his great achievements across the year that personify the late Barry Sheene.
"Craig more than fits the bill for this award named after one of Australia's greatest motorsport identites," Mr Cochrane said.
"Craig, like the late Peter Brock, who was also a personal mentor of his, is a people's driver. He personifies all what this sport is about -- giving back to the fans and the people."
Lowndes battled for the Championship right to the end with Toll HSV Dealer Team's Rick Kelly.
The Courier Mail's Gordon Lomas won the V8 Supercars Australia Media Award for his outstanding coverage of the 2006 Series, including a weekly full page dedicated to the sport.
Jeld-Wen Motorsport's James Courtney won the Mike Kable Rookie of the Year Award for his outstanding season that included a third in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Racing great Jim Richards was inducted into the Hall of Fame while Ford won the manufacturer's title and the Toll HSV Dealer Team the Team's Championship.
Lowndes and his team-mate Jamie Whincup were also honoured for their Bathurst victory.
Howard Racing's Adam Macrow was duly recognised for winning the 2006 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series.
Bartercard Miss V8 Supercar Cherie Mitchell, a primary school teacher from Noosa in Queensland, was also introduced as the 2007 Face of the Series.
The Gala Dinner hosted the heavyweights of Australian motorsport, V8 Supercar drivers, team owners, the V8 Supercars Australia Board, business identities, leading media and political dignitaries.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall was part of a celebration of 10 years of V8 Supercar racing and has already turned his attention to regaining his beloved number one in season 2007.
Earlier yesterday, Triple Eight Race Engineering's protest into an incident in Race 3 of last weekend's Caterpillar Grand Finale was dismissed, confirming Rick Kelly as the 2006 V8 Supercar Champion and Lowndes as series runner-up. Lowndes and the Triple Eight team will not appeal the decision.
"We are comfortable not to proceed with an appeal," said Lowndes.
"At the end of the day we have presented our case twice and Rick was found guilty of careless driving and his drive-through penalty regarded as appropriate.
"On the day we had superior car speed and it was going to take an accident or incident for them (HSV Dealer Team) to beat us, unfortunately we had both.
"Our four round wins including Bathurst highlights that we are a champion team in 2006."