TeamVodafone finalise preparations for Bathurst challenge Defending Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 champions, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have predicted an intense top-of-the-table battle for victory at this year's event. Winners in 2006,...
TeamVodafone finalise preparations for Bathurst challenge
Defending Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 champions, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have predicted an intense top-of-the-table battle for victory at this year's event.
Winners in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the TeamVodafone pairing are on the verge of becoming the most successful drivers ever to conquer the mountain in a consecutive streak.
Both drivers are focused on the final stages of preparation and acknowledge achieving the feat will be a challenge given the quality of rival line-ups.
Championship points leader Whincup said the competition would be tougher than it has ever been.
"I'm expecting a really intense battle with the factory teams once more," said Whincup in reference to the race-long stoush with the Holden Racing Team at Phillip Island.
"We are probably still a little wounded (from Phillip Island) given what happened to us on the last lap. We've left very little to chance in the lead-up and could not be better prepared."
"The cars were easily quick enough at Phillip Island and we are confident that last week's test has allowed us to further refine setup ahead of Bathurst."
"This is the most special race on the calendar. It stands alone as the one everyone wants to win and I'm confident we have what it takes to win," he continued.
In the driver's seat for the final heart-stopping stages of the 500km event last month, Lowndes said he had put the disappointment of defeat behind him and was looking forward to hitting the track at Mount Panorama.
"This is the biggest race of the year for us," Lowndes explained. "I am excited, confident and can't wait to get to Bathurst."
"Our final test was good last week and we learnt a lot more about the car."
"In my eyes Bathurst is always like a grand final. We are heading there as the reigning champions and we are hoping to re-write history," he said.
The lead pairing will campaign car #888 for this year's great race.
Allan Simonsen and James Thompson are looking to build upon a solid performance at Phillip Island when they team up again in car #88.
The drivers worked closely at the team test day, further refining driver changes and making small adjustments to the cockpit setup to suit.
Simonsen heads to Mount Panorama fresh from a successful outing at the final round of the British GT Championship where he claimed race finishes of 1st and 3rd.
"I have had a great lead-up to the event," said Simonsen. "It will be nice to get back to Bathurst after missing last year."
"We had a good race in 2007 and I'm excited to be back and racing with James this time around."
Thompson has also taken the opportunity to get in seat time in another world-class touring car championship since his debut V8 Supercar drive at Phillip Island.
"I recently returned from Imola where I raced in the World Touring Car race for Lada, scoring two 6th placings and the team's first ever points," said Thompson. "It was a good result considering it is their first year as an official manufacturer and they only introduced the new car three races ago."
"It was good preparation for Bathurst and helped me keep my reflexes sharp. It is unfortunate I am missing the final round of the Danish Touring Car Championship which I am leading but I wouldn't give up the chance to race at Bathurst."
"Last Monday's test day with TeamVodafone was the most comfortable I have felt in the car yet -- it was good to be back with the team and get in some more miles," Thompson added.
The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 begins on Thursday October 8 with three practice sessions. Practice and qualifying follows on Friday, before the Top Ten Shootout on Saturday.
The 161-lap showdown, race 18 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, begins at 10.30am on Sunday.