- Surprise Porsche seat for two-time B12 winner
- Bumped from Triple Eight Mercedes AMG program
- Joins 2019 defending race winners Bamber Motorsport
The 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour field has taken a dramatic turn two weeks out from the event, with two-time race winner Craig Lowndes ‘defecting’ to defending champs Bamber Racing for this year’s event.
Lowndes, a seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner and a co-driver in the Triple Eight/Holden Red Bull Racing squad, was reportedly asked to step aside from a gig with his long-standing team, which will field a pair of new-generation Mercedes-AMG GT GT3 cars for the event.
It’s understood his seat in the #888 car will be filled by a factory Mercedes-AMG driver, along with Holden Red Bull Racing regulars Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.
Lowndes will instead team up with New Zealand factory Porsche racer and former Le Mans winner Earl Bamber and former factory Audi driver, Begian-born Laurens Vanthoor, in a brand new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Lowndes has won the 12-hour event twice driving Ferraris and has also raced a McLaren at the mountain and was part of Triple Eight’s team in 2019 driving an older-spec Mercedes (below).
However, Triple Eight – who runs a GT3 program in Asia as a customer program – has entered two cars this year, with the #888 car running in the top-ranked Pro class and its 777 car contesting the Pro-Am category, where a non-full time racing driver is recruited to join two professional racers in a team.
The move will see Lowndes join long-time friend Bamber and one-time teammate Vanthoor in a car that has every chance of going back-to-back at the 12 Hour.
“I’m really excited to be joining the Porsche family for the Bathurst 12 Hour, teaming up with factory drivers Earl and Laurens,” Lowndes said in a statement.
“Earl Bamber Motorsport is the reigning race-winning team so it’s exciting to help them defend their title. Earl and I have been teammates in the past and get on extremely well, so with a Belgian in the mix, it should also be a bit of fun too.
“It’s my first time racing in a Porsche and the new evolution 911 GT3 R looks like a weapon, I can’t wait.”
“As a team we really very excited to go to the event,” added Bamber. “Obviously last year was amazing to win the race so to be able to return as defending champions for Porsche will be something special.
“As a driver, it will be awesome to team up with Laurens as we had a lot of success in America last year and follow each other all around the world racing.
“We are both really excited to have a legend in Craig Lowndes join the team and drive our car. He is the most successful Bathurst driver on the grid, so hopefully, he can bring us some of that Lowndesy magic during the Bathurst 12 Hour weekend.”