Supercars great Lowndes to retire

Ed Jackson
Supercars legend Craig Lowndes has announced he'll retire from full-time racing at the end of 2018

Six-time Bathurst 1000 champion Craig Lowndes will call time on his 21-year Supercars career at the end of the 2018 championship.

An emotional Lowndes announced in Townsville on Friday that this year will be his final full-time season in the category.

The 44-year-old said he'd been discussing retirement with Triple Eight Race Engineering team boss Roland Dane for months but only came to a decision two weeks ago.

"Although my current contract with Triple Eight finishes in another 18 months time, both Roland and I have come to the decision that this will be my last full-time drive in a Supercar," Lowndes said.

"I've always said that Bathurst 2006 was the most emotional and toughest race I've ever done in my career but I can say with a heavy heart that this has been the hardest decision that myself and my team have had to make."

Lowndes claimed his 106th career race win earlier this year in Tasmania and heads into this weekend's Townsville 400 fourth on the championship standings.

He said he hadn't given up hope of going out on top, with a fourth career championship.

"I want to make sure I finish my last full-time season with some strong results in the bag," he said.

Lowndes retires from full-time driving as one of the most popular and successful drivers in the championship history.

He debuted for the Holden Racing Team as an endurance driver in 1994 before making his full-time debut in 1996, winning the first of his three championships that year.

After an unsuccessful stint in Europe in 1997, Lowndes returned to HRT winning the 1998 and 1999 championships before a controversial switch to Ford in 2000.

He joined Triple Eight in 2005, claiming five Bathurst titles while with the team including a win in 2006 just weeks after mentor Peter Brock died.

Teammate Jamie Whincup attended Friday's press conference along with Lowndes' wife Lara and former teammate Greg Murphy.

Lowndes will remain with Triple Eight as an endurance driver from 2019 onwards as well as joining Supercars' television broadcast team.

"We don't know yet who Craig's going to be co-driving with for the enduros - that depends on the structure of the team - but he's undoubtedly got a few more Bathurst wins in him," Dane said.