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Stunt driver up to challenge

"His stunt work shows he has good car control and his ability to adapt to different cars is extraordinary."

Luff will have one of the highest pressure jobs this weekend in the Sandown 500 when he partners the most successful modern-day endurance driver in V8 Supercars, Craig Lowndes.

"Racing with Craig and TeamVodafone does and doesn't put pressure on me," Luff said yesterday after one of his stunt driving stints at the theme park. "Craig is the modern-day Peter Brock in every way; in is personality, attracting the fans and his driving. You don't get much bigger in the sport than Craig.

"But in reality it is so good to go to a race meeting knowing you have a fantastic partner, car and race team; it makes the job a little bit easier. "I've been to Bathurst and Sandown before in cars that aren't competitive and you tend to over-compensate and drive too hard."

Luff's best endurance results have been a third at Sandown in 2004 with Steve Johnson and a fifth at Bathurst in 2010 with James Courtney. "This is the biggest chance I've had to go all the way," Luff said. "Craig is driving the best he's ever driven and the team is doing a fantastic job."

Lowndes, who has five Bathurst 1000 and seven 500km titles, says the endurance events place a lot of emphasis on the co-driver. "You need to have a co-driver equally as quick as you," he said. "It's more important to have two fast drivers rather than a tortoise and hare situation."

Over the past few years Lowndes has been partnered by TeamVodafone colleague Jamie Whincup with whom he won three Bathurst titles in a row and touring car legend Mark Skaife, scoring a Bathurst first and second. "Luffy's not quite as quick as the regular drivers who are in the cars all year, but if you look at the co-drivers, I classify him as one of the top two," Lowndes said.

"The other one I rate is Paul Dumbrell (Whincup's partner for the endurance rounds). "We've got the two best co-drivers in the field because both recently drove in the main game. "Warren lost his drive at the end of last year and Paul retired last year so both are really current drivers and they understand what is needed of them. "At the last test day Luffy did the majority of the running and he got all the seat time he needed."

Lowndes also partnered Luff in an Audi R8 race car in the past two Bathurst 12-hour events but says he has never seen him perform in the Movieworld stunt show. "He keeps bugging me to see the show and to have a crack myself," he said. "One day I'll see it; just as long as he keeps four wheels on the deck at Sandown and Bathurst I'll be happy.

"His stunt work shows he has good car control and his ability to adapt to different cars is extraordinary. "I've been lucky that I was able to partner up with him at the 12-hour with Audi where he had to adapt to paddle shift and left-hand drive. "Through that process I got to known him a lot better so we'll have a better understanding on race day."

Lowndes says he is quietly confident going into the endurance rounds in a competitive fourth position in the championship. "We know what we have to do and we are happy with the car," he said. "We have all our ducks in a row. Now we just have to stay out of trouble."

 

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