Less than a fortnight since its spectacular Bathurst victory and double podium, TeamVodafone has turned its attention to the challenging Surfers Paradise street circuit which will host regular drivers and their international partners for the Armor All Gold Coast 600, beginning tomorrow.
Sebastien Bourdais, partnered with Jamie Whincup, and Richard Lyons, partnered with Craig Lowndes, shared race wins last year and will look to add to the team’s impressive win tally on the Gold Coast which currently stands at 7.
The Brisbane-based team has had the best-finishing international driver for the past two years; Brit Andy Priaulx in 2010 and Frenchman Bourdais in 2011.
Retaining Bourdais and welcoming back Lyons, who debuted for the team at Sandown in 2008, maintains the team’s hallmark consistency.
Both Bourdais and Lyons were on hand at yesterday’s international driver test session at Queensland Raceway, familiarising themselves with the cars once more and practicing all-important driver changes.
Five race wins and three pole positions since 2008 have Whincup entering his home event as a front-running favourite.
The defending V8 Supercar Champion also holds the qualifying record for the challenging track and is hoping to build on the momentum from Bathurst this weekend.
“Obviously like everyone else I love the Gold Coast event, especially being my home race and having Sebastien in my corner again is a massive plus,” Whincup said.
“I can’t stress enough that although we have had a great run in the past, it doesn’t guarantee anything this weekend so we really need to use the momentum and team moral from Bathurst and put it into motion this weekend.”
Whincup teams up with Bourdais for the second straight year on the Gold Coast after claiming a win and a second in 2011 and scoring more points than any other combination for the weekend.
The Frenchman is the only driver in history to win on the Gold Coast in both a Champ/IndyCar and a V8 Supercar.
Last year saw Bourdais walk away with the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy, which was awarded for the first time to the best-placed international co-driver across the event.
“It’s great to be back with the team and knowing all the crew obviously creates less unknowns which makes it a little easier,” said Bourdais.
“Jamie is sitting in the lead of the Championship just like last year when I raced with him so there’s always pressure but the Holden is great and I’m very much looking forward to the weekend.”
Stablemate Craig Lowndes will make his 16th V8 Supercar event start on the Gold Coast this year and will be hoping to build on two race wins here, the most recent coming in 2005.
Lowndes has had only a single podium finish since then, finishing second on the Saturday of the 2010 event, and has only claimed one pole position back in 1998 when the event was a non-championship feature.
“It’s another important event for the Championship this weekend, we can either make or break the Championship with a good or a bad result so I’ll be 100% focused on getting a good result,” Lowndes said.
“I’m really looking forward to driving with Richard, he’s been a part of Triple Eight in the past and knows the cars, knows the track and won a race last year at the Gold Coast event so he is incredibly talented and I’m excited to have him on the team.”
Lyons rejoins TeamVodafone after making his V8 Supercars debut with the team at Sandown in 2008.
The Irish driver teamed with Ford’s Mark Winterbottom last year, taking a pair of podium places, including a race win.
“It’s great to be back to familiar territory,” Lyons said. “Most of the guys in the team I already know so it’s a great head start in terms of getting down to business.”
“Regarding coming back for my second GC600, this time round its a little less daunting, however the pressure remains high as TeamVodafone is the top team and partnering with Craig means I have big shoes to fill in my duties this weekend.
“I can't wait to get behind the wheel of a 888 car again.”
TeamVodafone has secured 10 consecutive race wins in the V8 Supercars Championship in a streak that began at Darwin’s Hidden Valley in June.
Defending V8 Supercars Champion Jamie Whincup remains in the lead of the V8 Supercar Championship after claiming his fourth Bathurst 1000 victory, with teammate Lowndes 161 points behind in second.
Source: Team Vodafone