Bathurst 1000 rookie Declan Fraser has vowed to “not be a hero” and work himself into the weekend as he prepares to make his Great Race debut.
Fraser will drive with Supercars legend Craig Lowndes in a Supercheap Auto-backed wildcard entry being run by Triple Eight racing.
Speaking to Wide World of Sports, Fraser said he is working with his seven-time Bathurst champion teammate as well as team boss Roland Dane to keep his expectations in check.
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“I guess I don’t want to go out there and be the hero in practice one – we’re just going to build up to it as much as possible,” the 22-year-old said.
“We want to make sure we get to Sunday afternoon with a nice, clean, straight car.”
Fraser is highly regarded in the Supercars paddock. He leads the Super2 championship with two race meetings to go, and will be pulling double duties on the 1000 weekend.
He made his car racing debut in the Toyota 86 series in 2017, before graduating to Super3 in 2020, and Super2 last season.
Lowndes – who will become the first driver to ever start 300 rounds when the lights go out at the start of the race – said his young teammate was like a “sponge”.
“He’s come to every Supercars event this year and it’s really a credit because he wants to learn, he wants to understand,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“He’s been sitting in all the pre-briefs and debriefs with Shane (van Gisbergen) and Broc (Feeney) … he’s just desperate to learn and understand, and he’s doing it the right way.”
Having retired from fulltime racing at the end of 2018, Lowndes has spent the past three seasons as Jamie Whincup’s co-driver.
A year after his retirement, Whincup will compete at Bathurst as co-driver to Broc Feeney, leaving Lowndes to partner Fraser.
Shane van Gisbergen will once again partner Garth Tander in the team’s lead car.
Having a rookie as a co-driver is also a new experience for Lowndes. Even when he was coming through the ranks in the mid-90s, all his co-drivers had some kind of Bathurst 1000 experience. He said the adjustment had so far been smooth.
“Declan and I talk the same language, and the car setup and the way we like the car is similar,” he said.
He said the fact both he and Fraser were of a similar build, and so there is no compromise required ergonomically, was crucial in a 1000km race.
Lowndes said he was confident of a strong result.
“His attitude is really good, he’s down to earth and he really takes things on board,” he said.
“If we can stay out of trouble and a bit of luck goes our way, we can have a really strong finish to the race.”
Fraser said he understood how his esteemed co-driver would have felt in the early days when Lowndes was teammates with Peter Brock.
Lowndes was very much seen as Brock’s protégé, and took over the role as fan favourite when Brock retired at the end of the 1997 season.
“Yeah it’s pretty cool – it’s my first Bathurst start and I’m basically driving with Supercars racing royalty in Lowndesy,” Fraser said.
The wildcard entry is being run by Roland Dane, who was Triple Eight boss until the end of last season when he stepped back and handed the reins to Whincup.
In Fraser’s last visit to Bathurst in a Supercar, he suffered a right-rear wheel nut failure at Reid Park, which caused him to spin rear-first into the concrete wall.
The car was destroyed and his weekend was done.
His return to the mountain came earlier this year in the Bathurst 12-hour at the wheel of a MARC Ford Mustang.
He said the countless number of laps he completed over that weekend means his 2021 shunt is out of his mind.
Fraser’s last day in the car before the 1000 came at a test day at Queensland Raceway on Wednesday.
The livery for the car will be launched on Tuesday, before practice starts on Thursday.
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