Features 10 Aug 2012

Crossover: Craig Lowndes

MotoOnline.com.au chats to the V8 Supercars star about his association with Suzuki.

Keen motorsport fans at select rounds of Australian Motocross in recent years may have recognised V8 Supercars legend and Suzuki ambassador Craig Lowndes on hand to check out the best of the best in the Monster Energy MX Nationals.

Lowndes is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and rides himself on a fleet of dirt and road bikes supplied by Suzuki, maintaining great respect for the likes of team Motul Pirelli Suzuki factory racers Todd Waters and Cody Cooper.

For Lowndes, he has a history in motorcycling, and still uses them to train for his V8 career to this day.

“I actually rode dirt bikes before I started go karts, so it’s always been in the back of my mind and I’ve always held an interest in it,” Lowndes explained to MotoOnline.com.au. “Now, many years later, I still use dirt bikes for training and have a great association and connection through Suzuki.

Craig Lowndes is an ambassador for Suzuki Australia and has been since 2010.

“I feel more at home on bitumen, but of course I admire these guys in the dirt and what they go through. Watching the guys run around at Hervey Bay, how the sandy soil quickly rutted up, the good riders had to work hard for the victory.”

“My dirt bike’s an RM-Z450, which I use mainly for motocross tracks, and I don’t do any bush riding or anything like that. It’s more similar to a circuit that I do in a V8 Supercar. I have a GSX-R1000 road bike and also one of Shawn Giles’ old K8 GSX-R1000 training bikes.

“We use that for track days, normally at Broadford, Morgan Park or Queensland Raceway, and as I said, it’s a little bit more comfortable for me on bitumen. Dirt obviously gives your arms a good workout though, gets the heart pumping.”

While it’s a surprise for some that Lowndes spends so much time on two-wheels, the fact that Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane shares the same interest in motorcycle racing and riding himself. Since he uses it for training purposes, Dane is more than happy to see one of Australia’s favourite motorsport identities on the bike.

“Luckily our boss is right into motorbikes himself, so it’s a great thing,” Lowndes added. “I’ve been using bikes for training and have been for about five years now, so touch wood I haven’t had an accident with any broken bones. Roland understands that it’s a training base and as long as I don’t hurt myself, he’s more than happy.”

Lowndes is a big fan of Motul Pirelli Suzuki's MX1 title contender Todd Waters. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Of course during his time on the bike, Lowndes has to be careful and ride within his limits, but the good old nature of a racer does tend to come out when he’s got company.

“I’ve got a neighbour who still races in the vets, so it’s always good when you have somebody who rides competitively to push you to your limits and doing everything else,” he laughed.

Lowndes’ most recent round of the outdoors that he attended was at Hervey Bay, and he came away impressed with Waters as Suzuki’s latest signing. Right in contention for the title, Lowndes has his full support behind both Waters and the entire Motul Pirelli Suzuki team.

“I think the bike’s extremely quick and Todd’s doing a fantastic job for the team,” he said. “It’s of course always difficult in any motorsport and motorbikes are very different compared to what I’m used to in V8 Supercars, Jay Foreman does an awesome job preparing the bikes and it’s a great field.”