Written by TFM on 13/06/2019
LUKE HAYES, NT News
LEGENDARY Supercars driver and now Fox Sports commentator Craig Lowndes got up close and personal with our local salties at Crocosaurus Cove.
Colleague Jess Yates was another croc fan yesterday as part of the Darwin Triple Crown festivities.
Lowndes was excited to be back in the Top End, though in his new capacity as a commentator and analyst the experience feels much different this year.
“It’s great to be back, it’s a little bit different and strange for me,’’ he said.
“It’s the first year I’ve come back to Darwin as more of a spectator and commentator than driver.
“Myself and Garth Tander were the last of the two that had done all the years of the Darwin round,” he told the NT News.
“The different lead into weekends is facts and figures of the 24 cars, so it’s been an interesting transition into that world.
“Normally you’re selfish, only focused on yourself, your car and your team and trying to beat everyone. Now I’ve got to be unbiased and to call it for what it is, whether it’s Nissan, Ford or Holden.”
Yates shared Lowndes’ sentiments about Darwin, saying she’s happy to be up here in the mix and excited to watch the drivers take to Hidden Valley Raceway this weekend in a round that historically produces interesting results.
“All of us love to come up here year after year to escape the winter cold and thaw out a little bit,” she said.
“We’re almost at the halfway point in the season and Hidden Valley Raceway is one of those places that always throws up a few anomalies.
“We’ve had nine different winners in the last 11 races here, so I’m really looking forward to what unfolds on the track.”
Scott McLaughlin is undoubtedly the man to beat this weekend, holding a 244 point lead over teammate Fabian Coulthard.
That dominance did have a black spot, a collision in Melbourne with Cameron Waters that resulted in a DNF for Race 5 and he missed the podium in Race 8 in Tasmania.
Yates said McLaughlin will have a target on his back this weekend, with Hidden Valley providing an opportunity for a dark horse to take the top step on the podium.
“I think Scott will be dominant this weekend, but there’s always the potential for somebody to make the most of a situation that might be out of Scott’s control,’’ she added.
“We’ve seen that a little bit so far this year. He came together with his teammate Fabian Coulthard last round at Winton, he got away with that, he might not be so lucky the second time round.
“I think it’s all about not making mistakes, for Scott he’s got to continue to do that. While he’s the man to beat, there will plenty of drivers that will be really taking it to him.”