Craig Lowndes
Craig Lowndes Robert Cianflone

"Paperclip's" bumps rise again: Lowndes

WHILE he won't be doing any laps of Queensland Raceway when he visits Ipswich next week, Craig Lowndes is in a better position than most to rate the state of the Ipswich track.

Lowndes is visiting as part of a tour of regional Queensland, promoting road safety in conjunction with the Suncorp Insurance Must-Have Safer Queensland Roads team.

But Queensland Raceway is Lowndes' Red Bull team's test track, so he is in a good position to comment on the state of the "the paperclip".

It was feared the resurface at the end of 2011 would take away some of the intricacies of the track, which is one of the shortest on the Australian V8 Supercar calendar.

Even Queensland Raceway CEO John Tetley lamented the loss of the track's distinctive bumps.

But time has assuaged those fears.

"You always get those comments after a resurface," Lowndes said.

"It takes some of the challenges out. It was the same thing at Phillip Island.

"But as the resurface gets a bit older the bumps start to return.

"There are some bumps back at turn one so we've got some challenges in front of us as drivers."

It means Lowndes will have a small advantage over his rivals when the Supercars return to Ipswich for round nine in July.

By that stage Lowndes expects his Red Bull stable mate, two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner, to be up to speed in the second tier V8 Development series.

This is Stoner's first year racing a V8 and his opening round in Adelaide was a mixed result.

He crashed out of race one, but made up huge ground after starting last in race two to finish 14th.

"The only circuit he knows is Phillip Island," Lowndes said of Stoner, who won six straight Australian Grand Prix's at the island course.

"All the others are brand new.

"It's just a matter of getting that track and car knowledge.

"He's used to being on two wheels and being on four is a completely different scenario."

Much more used to being on four wheels is Ipswich racer Ash Walsh, who currently sits second in the development series standings.

Lowndes knows Walsh well and rates him highly.

"I think he has a bright future," Lowndes said.

"For him it is a matter of getting the right opportunity and breaks and getting as much knowledge of the tracks and category as he can.

"He could be a star of the future.

"He just has to get the right teams and backing to get the results he needs."

Lowndes is off to New Zealand this week for round five of the V8 Supercar series, where he needs just one more race win to surpass Mark Skaife's all-time record of 90 wins.

He will be at the Ipswich City Mall, Ipswich on Thursday, April 18.

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