Lowndes wants Commodore to exit in style
HOLDEN hero Craig Lowndes says it will be a sad moment when the Commodore is retired but has vowed to help send the iconic car out on a high at Bathurst before its racing days are done.
After Holden's announcement it was axing the Commodore due to declining sales, Lowndes said he was intent on making sure the famous model got the send-off it deserved at Mount Panorama before it followed the Ford Falcon out the door.
Spelling the end of an Australian automotive icon, Holden confirmed last month it was withdrawing the Commodore and the Astra from the market this year to focus on SUVs and light commercial vehicles.
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But the Commodore has a two-year stay of execution in Supercars after Holden reconfirmed its commitment to the category until the end of 2021 - with the ZB Commodore as its model.
Holden's plans beyond then remain unclear.
Lowndes, who has won four of his seven Bathurst crowns in a Commodore, is now a co-driver for Holden's only factory-backed team, Triple Eight Race Engineering, alongside Jamie Whincup.
The three-time Supercars champion said it would be a sad moment when the Commodore's days were over.
"It's obviously going to be a sad day when that does come about," Lowndes said.
"It's going to be a shame when it comes to that point, but it has been a great car to be able to campaign as a race car.
"My contract with the team is for the next couple of years and the same for the team with Holden. So the next couple of years we will be very focused on trying to finish off on a high as much as we can moving onto the next phase of motor racing and Holden."
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team has run as Holden's sole factory team in Supercars since 2017 when it ended a 26-year partnership with Walkinshaw Racing (now Walkinshaw Andretti United).
Six other teams - Erebus Motorsport, WAU, Team 18, Brad Jones Racing, Tekno Autosports and Matt Stone Racing - also run Commodores in the series.
Holden confirmed in July it would continue its factory support until the end of the 2021 championship after renewing its deal with Triple Eight for two years.
After this week's announcement, Holden said it would "assess" its options for 2022 when Supercars' new Gen3 regulations are introduced.
"Holden recently recommitted to racing in Supercars through until the end of 2021, and that will happen with the currently homologated ZB Commodore race car," Holden said in a statement.
"Racing is a strong part of Holden's brand identity and we will assess our options as Supercars continues to evolve its rules for the next generation of cars currently due to be introduced in 2022."
Lowndes hoped Holden would retain a presence in the series - no matter what the model.
"The good thing about it is it has always been the Ford and Holden rivalry. You go to the top of the mountain and it's always been red or blue and it doesn't matter what the name of the car is, it has always been that factor," Lowndes said.
"As long as we can continue that, I think the fans will embrace that. And whatever we race, we'll just get on with it and hopefully use the brand of Holden as much as we can and support it as strong as we can."
Holden's plans for the Commodore come after Supercars bid farewell to another Australian car icon, the Ford Falcon, at the end of last year's championship before the introduction of the Mustang in a record-breaking year in 2019.