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Thursday, May 30, 2024


ROLAND Dane has recalled the pivotal efforts which brought superstar Craig Lowndes to what was still a fledgling Triple Eight Race Engineering organisation in Australia.

In a bumper Part 1 of Dane’s V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco episode released today, Dane discussed how he convinced the three-time champion to take a punt on a team which had yet to taste victory.

A powerhouse in the United Kingdom, Triple Eight took over Briggs Motor Sport in September 2003.

Its first full Supercars season was headlined by Paul Radisich scoring third at Pukekohe and second at Eastern Creek, but its two cars ultimately placed 19th and 28th in the championship.

Lowndes though endured an equally painful 2004 campaign with Ford Performance Racing, finishing 20th overall.

Enter Dane.

“As far as the local scene was concerned, there was Marcos Ambrose and there was Craig Lowndes, and Craig hadn’t been able to show his true pace really since he walked away from the HRT scene,” Dane told podcast host Aaron Noonan.

Lowndes (right) with Marcos Ambrose. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“He was frustrated by that, he was looking for a solution to that, and one thing that I think I’ve always been is a good salesman.

“Campbell Little helped me at the time as well with Craig but I sold him the dream at a time when he was ready to be sold the dream because he wasn’t happy where he was.

“Garth Tander will tell you I spoke to him as well, I spoke to Murph (Greg Murphy), but the aim, if I could get Craig, was to get Craig.

“Marcos wasn’t about to leave Stones at that time – I spoke to him, but only to know what his contractual arrangements were – but Craig was the one who could give on-track and off-track credibility.”

Of the talks, Dane elaborated: “I went and sat with him, Campbell and I, at his house in Kilcoy at that time.

“We sat with him and said ‘look, despite what it sometimes looked like in 2004, we do know what we’re doing, plus I had done a deal with Stones to use their engines in 2005, and every race that goes by now we’re learning more and more. We know how to do it, we know how to win races.’

“At that stage between Ludo (Lacroix) and I, we had won an awful lot of races, not in Australia but elsewhere.

“Craig wanted to be convinced, that was the great thing, he wanted an excuse to leave where he was.

Lowndes’ 2005 #888 Betta Electrical BA Falcon. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“The only real opposition really was the guy who ran Ford at the time, Tom Gorman – ‘why are you going up there? We formed this super team down here, Ford Performance Racing with Prodrive; why do you want to go up there?’

“But Craig wanted to be in Queensland as well, so luckily for us, he bought the dream.”

Dane, who is still chairman at Triple Eight, touches on many other topics in the episode including his family background, his lessons from working at niche car company Panther Westwinds, and how he turned down the chance to buy the K-Mart Racing Team.

He also reveals how Peter Brock came to drive for his then British-based Vauxhall squad in the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000.

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