For the first time in 11 years, Craig Lowndes has savoured a Supercars victory with Jamie Whincup.
Now Lowndes is hungry to make up for lost time in the Gold Coast 600’s finale on Sunday.
Seven-time Bathurst champion Lowndes celebrated his first win since announcing his retirement from full-time driving at the end of 2018 after combining with Whincup to claim line honours in the opening 300km race on the tourist strip on Saturday.
Now solely on co-driver duty in 2019’s three endurance rounds, three-time series champion Lowndes stepped up when it counted by expertly jumping pole sitter Scott McLaughlin’s teammate Alex Premat at the start to pave the way for his stirring victory with Whincup.
Remarkably, it marked the first time Lowndes had enjoyed success in an endurance event with Whincup since 2008 – the year the pair capped a stunning run of three straight Bathurst triumphs together.
Lowndes may have finished the race in the uncharacteristic position of watching Whincup steer their Holden home from the garage.
But the 45-year-old reckoned it felt as sweet of any of his wins during his stellar full-time career.
“We always talk abut this weekend being one of the toughest because of the concrete walls but wins are always exciting,” Lowndes said.
“And for me supporting Jamie is very important.
“This is the very first year I have been at the Gold Coast as a co-driver so for me it is quite exciting sitting in the garage and watching what Jamie does – it’s quite interesting being on the other side.
“But on Sunday we hit the reset button and do it all again.”
Whincup moved from fifth to third in the championship standings with just his second win of 2019.
But it is still Ford driver Scott McLaughlin’s championship to lose despite having his series lead whittled down from 622 to 613 on Saturday.
McLaughlin can secure back-to-back championships if he finishes Sunday’s 102-lap event 600 points clear of nearest rival and Whincup’s Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen.
In the meantime, Whincup appeared content to savour his long-awaited victory with good mate Lowndes on the tourist strip.
“We can now compare photos of our 2008 win and 2019 and tell our grandkids how good we were,” Whincup laughed.
Qualifying will be held before Sunday’s 300km race which starts at 1500 AEST.