Three-time V8 Supercar Champion Craig Lowndes will remain a Ford driver but with a new home, today announcing that he will drive for Queensland based Triple Eight Race Engineering. The decision will become effective from the start of the 2005...
Three-time V8 Supercar Champion Craig Lowndes will remain a Ford driver but with a new home, today announcing that he will drive for Queensland based Triple Eight Race Engineering. The decision will become effective from the start of the 2005 racing season.
Lowndes will complete the 2004 season with the Ford Performance Racing team before linking with Triple Eight Race Engineering in January 2005.
"I'm pleased to stay in the Ford family, that was first and foremost in the decision," said Lowndes.
"Nat and I have always felt at home with the Ford family since joining in 2001. We are committed to Ford and to winning for Ford.
"The decision to change Ford teams was by no means an easy one, but I felt it was necessary to be closer to the everyday running of the team. With Brisbane being the home of Triple Eight Race Engineering and our family being based in South East Queensland, I can look forward to forging a strong working relationship with everyone on the team.
"My desire is to be able to make more of a contribution to the team and the best way to do that without compromising our family life was to be racing out of Queensland.
"The people at Ford Performance Racing have been outstanding and my decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication that they have put into the program. I know that they will be a very strong race team and I look forward to battling with them on the track from the 2005 season.
"This announcement does clear the air for everyone. For the remainder of 2004 our goal of being competitive, especially at Bathurst, remains an absolute priority".
President of Ford Australia Tom Gorman praised Lowndes for his commitment to Ford and welcomed Lowndes' ongoing involvement in the Ford Racing program.
"He's a key component of the plan," said Mr Gorman.
"There's no doubt it's somewhat disappointing that he's leaving Ford Performance Racing, but everyone at the Ford Motor Company respects his decision.
"Importantly the Ford Motor Company's partnership with Ford Performance Racing and its parent company Prodrive remains extremely strong. Together we are working towards success on the track and I know that everyone is dedicated to making this happen.
"Overall the Ford Racing program and the V8 Supercar Championship Series are in a very strong position. The fact that there are eight fulltime and very professional Ford V8 teams in this country is testimony to that.
"Ford Racing will remain on the priority list at Ford Australia for many years to come."
Director of Ford Performance Racing David Flint expressed nothing but praise for Lowndes and briefly outlined the direction for the team.
"Craig Lowndes is without doubt a class act and he'll remain a good friend of Ford Performance Racing," said Mr Flint.
"We will all be sad to see him leave the team, but I believe you will see the true character of our team over the second half of this year and Craig will be very much part of that.
"We have a very good group of major partners including Ford, Caterpillar, Castrol, Ford Credit, Dunlop and Delphi. Our commitment to giving them a great return on their investments has not changed.
"Just last week we announced Dave Ward as our new Team Manager and our Race Engine Team Leader will be Rob Benson. They will work with Chief Engineer John Russell and our first class group of people. These appointments, as well as some other changes within the team, are going to put us in the right direction.
Triple Eight Race Engineering Managing Director Roland Dane welcomed Craig Lowndes to his team and underlined his commitment to continuing Ford's resurgence in the V8 Supercar Series.
"I simply can't wait for the first time Craig Lowndes gets aboard our Falcon," said Dane.
"We are in this game to win and that's what I know Craig is all about.
"Simply plugging a driver into a car does not automatically make you a winner, but I can tell you there will be a spring in everyone's step at our home base right now. This will only add to the momentum we have developed during the year and everyone is very enthused about the direction of the team and our prospects of success.
Manager - Motorsport Operations for the Ford Motor Company Stephen Kruk said the decision by Lowndes had lifted the whole game of V8 Supercars.
"For those who watch the sport, especially Ford fans, it will only get better," said Mr Kruk.
"We are serious about racing and serious about winning. A true spirit of competition amongst Ford teams will result in race wins and championships for the Blue Oval. The increase in popularity of V8 Supercars over the past 12 months can only be put down to one thing - the comeback and Championship win by Ford".
"Our desire is to develop a series of race teams that are all capable of winning the championship. It can't be left to current champion Marcos Ambrose and the Stone Brothers Racing team on their own," said Kruk.
"It has to be a fight that includes all the Ford race teams. We want a level playing field and our partners in racing who carry the Ford badge understand our desire and our mission - to deliver success".
Round 8 of the 13 round V8 Supercar Championship Series visits Sydney's Oran Park on August 13-15.