Craig Lowndes has shut down speculation he could make a shock full-time Supercars comeback in the near future, insisting his retirement from regular competition will be permanent.
The 44-year-old made his final start as a Supercars full-timer in Newcastle late last month, ahead of a new career dovetailing an enduro drive with Triple Eight with TV commitments and plans to race in marquee overseas events.
But there were suggestions Lowndes might not be done as a Supercars regular and could make a shock full-time return after a break, which were fuelled by a recent column from former Holden Racing Team boss John Crennan for the Automotive Dealer Magazine.
Crennan, who was at the helm at Holden when it first signed Lowndes in 1994, said he believes Lowndes is “burnt out”, but said he would be back in the series in either ’20 or ’21.
“My theory starts with a basic assumption that Craig would undoubtedly have mega sports star fatigue after 24 years of racing, travel, sponsors, media and the politics of sport,” Crennan wrote.
“Burnout with top sport stars is best treated with a well thought out long break when your performances are still very competitive, as Craig’s are.
“My money is on Craig returning to a full-time Supercar seat in either 2020 or ’21 for these reasons;
“A) I don’t see Craig suited to a top media role nor a team management or ownership position,
“B) the Sean Seamers of Supercars know Craig puts volume bums on seats and turns on television sets and a comeback would reignite massive interest for the sport,
“C) about this time next year Craig will start getting itchy feet for full-time racing and be missing all the trapping deserving of a superstar in the sport… we will see!”
But Lowndes has hosed down Crennan’s theory, confirming once and for all that Newcastle was his final start as a Supercars full-timer.
“I’m burnt out apparently,” he said. “I don’t think I’m burnt out, I just need a change.
“I read those reports, and basically I’m not going to make a return full-time. Especially not in Supercars.
“We’ll see what else is out there, and I want to do some sportscar stuff and other things.
“Supercars will always be here, I’ll still always be a co-driver in some form for a number of years to come. I’ll get my fix through that.”
Pressed on whether a break could lead to a change of heart, Lowndes was adamant it would not happen.
“No. I’m still comfortable with the decision we’ve made,” he said.
“In 12 months time, if I’m itching to get back in a car, I don’t think it will be a Supercar.”
Lowndes has won 107 races in his Supercars career, with his future outings set to be limited to the three long-distance events at Bathurst, Sandown, and the Gold Coast.
He is widely-tipped to be paired with Jamie Whincup for those races in 2019.