CHAMPION racing driver Craig Lowndes will get behind the wheel of a restored FX Holden this month in the lead-up to a south-west challenge at the famed Monte Carlo Historic Rally.
The vehicle, owned by motoring enthusiast Gary Poole of Derrinallum, has been built to tackle the 2013 rally next January.
It will re-enact the 60th anniversary of the first Holden used in international motor sport — the only time to date that an Australian vehicle participated in the Monte Carlo Rally.
That will all change when Poole teams up with Lowndes and Richard Davison, who is the son of original team member Lex Davison, for next year’s challenge.
Poole said in the past two months the replica car had been tested at three locations in preparation for the race.
“Winter snow testing was conducted at Lake Mountain alpine resort and (the car) passed the cold tests, with the new heater Craig working well,” Poole said. The heater was named after Lowndes, who was concerned when he discovered the lack of heating at the car’s launch during the Australian Grand Prix in March.
Further road testing took place in Warrnambool after Callaghan Motors announced it would join the project as a major sponsor.
The final and major test for the Holden was a visit to the 2012 Targa Adelaide, with Davison and Poole sharing the driving and navigating duties.
Poole said there would have been more than $10 million worth of vehicles at Adelaide, but it was the 1953 replica car that proved to be a hit with locals and fellow entrants.
“Clearly the oldest, slowest, yet the most historic car in the 105-car field, it surprised many with its ability to keep up to its 80km/h average speed requirement as part of the regularity class we had entered. The youngest car (a 2012 Toyota 86 sports car) was also in the same class.”
Poole said tarmac rallies such as the Targa Adelaide were considered one of the most dangerous forms of motor sport and, unlike F1 or V8 Supercars, there were no sand traps or barriers.
“Make an error in a Targa event and you are off the road into trees. The 2012 Targa Adelaide had a fatality, with Adam Plate killed after rolling his 2011 Mitsubishi.
“Over 28 gruelling Targa stages, and covering over 800km around the twisting Adelaide hills, the 1953 replica car performed well, with only some minor areas needing repairs,” he said.