V8SDS: Decina Racing Bathurst preview

DECINA RACING READIES ITSELF FOR MOUNTAIN ASSAULT Decina Racing is heading to Bathurst for the penultimate round of the HPDC V8 Supercar Series and is leaving no stone unturned as it prepares to complete some unfinished business at Mount ...

DECINA RACING READIES ITSELF FOR MOUNTAIN ASSAULT

Decina Racing is heading to Bathurst for the penultimate round of the HPDC V8 Supercar Series and is leaving no stone unturned as it prepares to complete some unfinished business at Mount Panorama.

Entering the round just 18 points behind the Championship leader, Warren Luff completed a productive test session at Queensland Raceway where he completed 80 laps as the team focussed on the Decina Falcon's setup, a vital requirement for success at Bathurst.

"After spending the entire day testing I believe we are definitely on track to finding better balance in the car, which is a major advantage at Bathurst due to the high speed of the circuit," said Luff.

"What these changes will help ensure during the races is the ability to carry more corner speed. So the progress we have made during this latest test session has certainly taken us a further step in the direction we want to go."

"The car felt particularly good by the end of the day and with this final hit out under our belts I'm feeling confident going into the event."

Team Principal Paul Cruickshank was also enthusiastic about the progress made during Decina Racing's final test and upon returning to Bathurst for the 16th time, although he admitted there are some significant differences this time round.

"I think because we only have to do a sprint format for the HPDC Series, I'm not reading too much into it in terms of past experiences. Because preparing for an endurance event at Bathurst is obviously very different," said Cruickshank.

"Car set up is still critical however, as there are plenty of corners and it is a big circuit and if the car is not right you can be off the pace quickly.

"As such you still have to treat the mountain with respect as it can be hard. Typically it can be a cruel place and really the best way to attack it, be it for an enduro or a sprint race, is to do as much preparation both in the workshop and through testing.

"Our final test at Queensland Raceway before Bathurst was very positive as we made some gains in the general overall performance and balance of the car, which heading to the Mountain is important.

Whilst also very positive about this year's preparation for Bathurst, Decina Racing's Team Owner Jim Morton recalled the disappointment of last's year's race when the Decina Falcon driven by Greg Ritter had a failure at Caltex Chase whilst leading the race.

"This is Decina's second Bathurst, our first was in the V8's last year," Morton said.

"Greg Ritter was driving for us and he had just come off securing the team's first V8 win at Mallala.

"He qualified second, but off the line fell back to fourth. As the race progressed he worked his way through and eventually took the lead. From there he built a significant lead, but has fate would have it with two corners and one lap to go the car blew a tyre at the Chase and that was that.

"So we have some unfinished business at Bathurst that we are hoping to rectify this year."

While Morton has already experienced the cruelty that can be associated with Mount Panorama, he did acknowledged the importance the Great Race holds for all the teams in the HPDC V8 Supercar Series, particularly for the sponsors.

"This year at Bathurst in the HPDC series there are two races and there is no doubt that there is every chance they will be the most exciting races of the year. With that fact in mind everyone in the team is looking forward to the challenge that now awaits us at the Mountain.

"And having both races televised live on the Ten Network provides a fantastic opportunity for the team's to offer sponsors prime television coverage during what is one of Australia's great sporting events.

"Bathurst is the only round of the year that the category gets a live telecast and last year I believe there was over 320,000 viewers tuned for the development series race.

"It is a round of the V8 Supercar championship that is a bit different to most racing during the year as there are a lot of non-motorsport people who tune and have an interest as it is more like an NRL or AFL Grand Final, a sporting spectacle.

"They tune into Bathurst because it is an event in its own right and it is a big opportunity for sponsors to be seen and that is good for business.

Morton said after the coverage received last year at Bathurst with Ritter commanding a lot of the telecast as he led the race, he was surprised at the amount of customers that contacted the company to say the had seen the Decina Falcon on television.

"We received a lot of phone calls after last year's race from customers who wanted to let us know that they had seen the car and the race, which just shows how important a live telecast can be."

Luff made his debut at Bathurst in 2002 when he partnered Cameron McConville to 15th overall. Since then he has become a regular fixture at the Great Race partnering Steve Johnson in 2003 and 2004 where the pair finished 13th and then 7th respectively.

In 2005 it will be double the work for the Queensland based driver who is not only pushing for his own championship victory in the HPDC Series, but joining Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose as he aims for a third successive Supercar title.

The HPDC Championship fight is poised to go down to the wire with Luff just 18 points behind championship leader and fellow Ford driver Dean Canto and two rounds remaining.

It is a fact not lost on the 2004 V8 Supercar Rookie of the Year and with every point precious, Luff knows winning this round is paramount.

"For Decina this is an incredibly important race because of the high profile of the event and there is some unfinished business there that we hope to rectify this year.

"It is an event that I love and a track that I really enjoy and I am going to Bathurst very focused and very determined to get the win.

"And as a team we have worked very hard to prepare the car and we are now looking forward to getting there and moving one step closer to the championship."

Round Six of the HPDC Supercar Championship will take place at Mount Panorama, Bathurst from October 6 to 9.

-dr-

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Series CAMS
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Cameron McConville , Dean Canto , Greg Ritter , Warren Luff , Steve Johnson , Paul Cruickshank