Hidden Valley: TeamVodafone preview

Lowndes and Whincup sport new helmet designs to support Red Dust at Darwin TeamVodafone drivers Craig Lowndes & Jamie Whincup will be sporting a different look this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. The duo will don one-off helmets ...

Lowndes and Whincup sport new helmet designs to support Red Dust at Darwin

TeamVodafone drivers Craig Lowndes & Jamie Whincup will be sporting a different look this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. The duo will don one-off helmets hand painted by renowned Aboriginal artist Raymond Walters Japanangka which will be auctioned on teamvodafone.com following the event to raise money for the indigenous charity Red Dust Role Models. Bids will open at 12pm on Thursday 18 June and the auction will close at 12pm on Saturday 27 June.

Japanangka, a Red Dust Role Model himself, was responsible for the indigenous-themed livery the TeamVodafone V8 Supercars displayed at last year's event.

Reigning Bathurst Champion Lowndes, who will celebrate his 35th birthday at the event this Saturday, was certain that the 'incredible' helmet artwork would help to spread the message of Red Dust Role Models.

"As a team we do something to support the Vodafone Australia Foundation's involvement with Red Dust Role Models every year when we race in Darwin. This year we came up with the concept of changing our helmet design and the final product is amazing," said Lowndes.

"Jamie and myself will be very hard to miss in pit lane or in the car!"

The helmets will be unveiled today at a trackside gathering that includes students from Darwin's Kormilda College, who will be on hand to help Red Dust ambassador and former World Champion swimmer Linley Frame mark the occasion.

The Northern Territory circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Lowndes in the past, and he said he was looking forward to keeping up the momentum of a solid start to the year.

"Darwin is a place we all love and I thoroughly enjoy the Hidden Valley event, it has a great atmosphere and the whole city gets involved," said Lowndes.

"We've done well here in the past and having won seven of the past eight races as a team also gives us great confidence.

"The soft tyres could pose a problem as their lifespan will be incredibly short -- strategy will once again play a big part in results."

Teammate and championship points leader, Jamie Whincup agreed with Lowndes' views on the soft tyre and said the nature of the circuit plus the notorious top-end heat would make for some unpredictable results.

"We're heading into round three of the six for soft tyres and it is going to be massively different to what we experienced in Tassie," said Whincup.

"These tyres do not like a lot of heat, which is unavoidable at Darwin with a number of high-load corners and the ambient track temperature.

"The point at which you choose to pit for tyres and the duration for which they're fitted will be race-changing.

"As an event I love heading to Darwin, it has its own feel and it is always a lot of fun but I have never actually been on the podium here. It is the only track that has totally eluded me."

Whincup currently sits atop the championship standings after four rounds of competition, with 1044 points to his name. Lowndes is fighting strongly in sixth, and is less than 80 points shy of the top 3.

While Lowndes and Whincup are raising awareness for Red Dust Role Models in the Southern Hemisphere, Vodafone ambassador and friend of the team, dual World Supercross Champion Chad Reed will be sporting a similar design in the Northern Hemisphere when he takes to the track next weekend for the fifth round of the AMA Motocross Championship under lights in Colorado.

"Even though I am thousands of kilometres away in America, I am proud to be able to help Red Dust by campaigning my own aboriginal inspired helmet design when we take to the track next weekend," Reed said.

"Red Dust do some great work in isolated communities and it is great to be able to team up with Craig [Lowndes] and Jamie [Whincup] for this joint activity which will help the charity with their program which encourages healthy lifestyle decisions." Red Dust Role Models uses the profile and influence of positive role models to deliver education and healthy lifestyle messages through tours of schools, youth clubs and health clinics in outback Australian communities.

The Vodafone Australia Foundation's partnership with Red Dust Role Models has helped mobilise over 65 sport, music and entertainment role models and connect them to over 2,000 young people in remote indigenous communities since 2003. There have also been over 150 Vodafone employees volunteer their time and skills as role models on tours.

-credit: tv

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Series Supercars
Drivers Chad Reed , Jamie Whincup