V8 Supercar star Craig Lowndes may be forced out of the Panoz Le Mans Series team for the season-closing Race of Thousand Years on the streets of Adelaide. Lowndes was confirmed in August to co-drive a Panoz LMP-1 with Mark Noske in the New...
V8 Supercar star Craig Lowndes may be forced out of the Panoz Le Mans Series team for the season-closing Race of Thousand Years on the streets of Adelaide.
Lowndes was confirmed in August to co-drive a Panoz LMP-1 with Mark Noske in the New Year's Eve event.
However, following the announcement last week that Lowndes will leave the V8 Supercar Holden Racing Team after the FAI 1000 at Bathurst on November 19, the Queensland-based three-time V8 champion is in dispute with his former team over the Adelaide event.
"I was given permission at the time to do the Adelaide race, but that has now changed," Lowndes said.
"My contract actually runs out on December 31, and at present the team will not give me permission to do the event, despite the fact I am leaving anyway.
"I am really disappointed because I was really looking forward to this race. It has always been a dream of mine to one day race in the Le Mans 24 Hour and this race was a great stepping stone to try to achieve that dream.
"I am also upset for all my fans in Adelaide who were looking forward to seeing me race a Le Mans car."
Lowndes' place with the Panoz team will now be taken by fellow ex-HRT driver and 1996 Bathurst winning co-driver, Greg Murphy.
Murphy has previously raced in the Le Mans 24 Hour aboard a GT class Porsche in 1996 where he finished 2nd in his class. The Melbourne-based kiwi is also a reigning Bathurst winner, having won last year with Steven Richards.
"To drive the Panoz is a fantastic opportunity, but it is a real pity that Craig can't join us," Murphy said.
"Having raced at Le Mans before, I am very excited at this opportunity. It will be brilliant to drive an outright prototype car as well.
"Mark and I are hoping to test the car after Bathurst and I can't wait to race the car on New Year's Eve."
Le Mans Adelaide Managing Director, Dean Rainsford, expressed disappointment for Lowndes.
"This event was going to be a fantastic chance to Craig to show his talents on the world stage," Rainsford said.
"The situation is very disappointing and I fail to see how anybody actually gains from this - especially Craig.
"Mark and Greg will do a fantastic job but it would be great to see all three guys in the car.
"I hope we may eventually see a positive outcome from this situation."
Both Murphy and Noske will race at Bathurst next week - Murphy with the K-Mart V8 Supercar team in the FAI 1000 and Noske with the Prancing Horse Ferrari squad in the final round of the Nation's Cup Championship.