Richards and Lowndes: We’re strongest at GC600
STEVEN Richards believes he and Craig Lowndes' strongest track as a combination is the Gold Coast in an ominous sign for their Supercars rivals.
The veteran pairing teamed up to win the Bathurst 1000 on Sunday for the second time together - overall Lowndes' seventh triumph in the Great Race and Richards' fifth.
Following their podium finish at Sandown last month, they lead the Enduro Cup by 60 points from Shane van Gisbergen/Earl Bamber and Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat heading into the third and final endurance event of the season, the GC600.
In his fifth year as Lowndes' co-driver, Richards said he has never felt more comfortable and expects the No.888 Commodore to be a contender at Surfers Paradise on October 19-21.
"In the past few years our best runs have been at the Gold Coast," said the 46-year-old.
"When we have gone to the Gold Coast we have always traditionally gone very well together, we have always been in the top five there.
"It's a great event to finish that (endurance) part of the campaign, at an event that is alive, there is a bit of buzz around town, the weather is great."
The GC600 is set to be their last event together; Lowndes will retire as a full-timer at the end of the season and will co-drive with either van Gisbergen or Jamie Whincup next year, while Richards has conceded he'll be on the phone later this month to secure a 2019 co-drive.
Richards paid tribute to Lowndes' dedication to the fans that has made him the face of the sport for two decades.
"The reality is that from inside and outside the car, what Craig has brought to this whole paddock, he's not a person that Supercars can afford to just walk away and disappear," Richards said.
"The standout with Craig is that he can get in the car and do what he needs to do after having dedicated so much of his time during a race meeting outside of the car with fans.
"It takes a special kind of character to be able to manage all of that and still get in the car and perform."
Richards is now the second most successful Kiwi driver at Bathurst, only behind his father Jim (seven wins).