Lowndes and Whincup set to see out Oran Park on top TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup will head to Sydney's Oran Park this weekend with vivid memories of the championship's previous visit to the circuit in 2006. Both drivers...
Lowndes and Whincup set to see out Oran Park on top
TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup will head to Sydney's Oran Park this weekend with vivid memories of the championship's previous visit to the circuit in 2006.
Both drivers went on to top sessions across the weekend, with Whincup kicking things off, taking P1 in free practice. Lowndes bookended his younger teammate's performance, rounding out the weekend with a win in the final race, and snaring the overall round win.
They will be out to capitalise on the team's knowledge of the 2.7km circuit to ensure the fantastic run of podium results is kept alive this weekend, following an encouraging Queensland Raceway outing where Whincup took his first ever pole position, and both drivers were continually on the pace, taking second and third overall for the round.
Oran Park has always been a favourite of Lowndes, who would also have won the 2005 event, had an unfortunate pit lane speeding penalty not held him back.
The Ford favourite, recently voted by his racing peers in Auto Action magazine as the series' fairest and most respected driver, heads into round 8 in 4th place in the title chase.
"Oran Park is without a doubt one of the top three or four circuits that we race on, it is a fantastic drivers track, has a great layout, a good variety of corners and the unique under and over bridge makes for a very challenging drive," explained Lowndes.
"It is track that throws up quite a few challenges," he continued. "It is a bumpy track which can make it difficult to set the car up and the pit lane is on a decline which can make it tricky to keep under the pitlane speed limit and stop on the markers. "
"As a team we feel like we are on a bit of a roll now, and Oran Park has always been kind to us so we are looking forward to continuing our present form and hopefully coming away with another dual podium."
"This is a very important race meeting as it is our last hitout before the endurance events," Lowndes continued.
Whincup is eager to carry over his good qualifying form to the weekend, and is confident that his TeamVodafone Falcon can match it with the best in race trim as well.
"I led Oran Park last year before my engine let go so you could say I am looking for retribution this year," said Whincup.
"Oran Park is a great driver's circuit that may not be around much longer, so I am looking to make the most of it and enjoying our time there."
"The track offers some of the better sections of road that we drive on and although we dominated there last year I know the Toll guys will be much more competitive and I think the fans are in for a real battle between the two teams," he added.
Whincup sits a place higher than his teammate in 3rd, and both drivers know the greatest opposition to back-to-back round wins at Oran Park will come from the drivers immediately ahead of them in the title chase.
This weekend's race format will consist of a 46 lap opener on Saturday, with two 46 lap races to follow on Sunday. With speculation rife that this could be Oran Park's last year in operation as a motorsport venue, the Team will do everything it can to ensure its drivers are in with a shot at taking home the circuit's last V8 Supercar trophy.
Prior to making the day-long journey south, TeamVodafone stopped in at Queensland Raceway yesterday to facilitate a fully-sanctioned Driver Evaluation day, featuring some iconic names in Aussie motorsport.
As well as welcoming international Supercross export Chad Reed for his first competitive stint aboard a V8 Supercar, the team was thrilled to offer opportunities to Formula Ford team-mates James Moffat and Tim Blanchard.
Team Principal Roland Dane was exceptionally impressed by the performance of all three drivers, citing their willingness to learn and take in as much information as possible as a very valuable quality.
In preparation for their return role as TeamVodafone endurance drivers, Richard Lyons and Allan Simonsen were also present, taking the opportunity to practice all-important driver changes and re-introduce themselves to the cars.