Phillip Island: GM Holden Motorsport preview

Holden sets sights on Manufacturers' Award in Phillip Island finale Garth Tander's victory in the penultimate round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Symmons Plains has brought GM Holden one win away from clinching yet another ...

Holden sets sights on Manufacturers' Award in Phillip Island finale

Garth Tander's victory in the penultimate round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Symmons Plains has brought GM Holden one win away from clinching yet another Champion Manufacturers Award in the top touring car category in the world.

The Manufacturers Award is determined by the most number of round wins by a manufacturer in the championship. It was first awarded by AVESCO in 1999 and Holden has clean-swept it ever since, save for 2003.

If the same method were applied to the early years of the V8 Supercar category from 1993 onwards, Holden was been the Champion Manufacturer nine out of 12 times.

In a further confidence boost to Holden, the final round of the series will be run at Phillip Island, which is the test track of Tander's HSV Dealer Team, the Holden Racing Team and Super Cheap Auto Racing.

All three teams have plenty of recent experience of the flowing 4.45- kilometre layout, a circuit that hasn't hosted a V8 Supercar race since early in 2003.

It's another venue that has truly been Holden country. From 1996 to 2002 Holden drivers won every time at Phillip Island, the seven-year streak only broken by changeable weather in 2003 that helped Craig Lowndes steal a win for Ford.

Tander and HSV DT teammate Rick Kelly head to the final round with plenty of confidence following their double-podium result at Symmons Plains as well as wanting to wrap up the crown for Holden on their home track.

The HSV team tested at Phillip Island last Thursday along with the Holden Racing Team and are confident that their track knowledge, particularly on the current generation Dunlop control tyre, will put them in a strong position.

"The Manufacturers Award is pretty important to Holden and if we could win two wins in a row to clinch it, particularly when Ford basically came out and announced they had it wrapped up pre-Tasmania, would be great," said Tander.

"Naturally enough, we expect to be right up the front at our home track. It's great to be back racing at Phillip Island. We've missed having a fast circuit like it on the calendar. It rewards you if you're brave but punishes you if you do something out of control."

HRT drivers Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife, fourth and fifth in points, are still mathematically in the title race at the final round but it would take an incredible turn of events for either of the 'Team Red' drivers to step onto the top step of the 2005 podium.

Of more concern for them is Castrol Team Perkins Racing's Steven Richards. The sixth-placed driver in the series, Richards is only 21 points behind Skaife and 31 points behind Kelly in addition to coming off a second-place result at Symmons Plains.

Richards finished fifth in last year's championship and sixth for the two years prior but is not heading to his team's test track, as is the case with HRT. The Perkins team tests at Winton along with Dodo Racing and Garry Rogers Motorsport

Practice begins at Phillip Island on Friday at 1.00pm with a two-hour session. Qualifying, the Top 10 Shootout and a 100-kilometre race will be held on Saturday before two 140-kilometre races complete the 2005 season on Sunday.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Todd Kelly (#22 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ - 4th in championship) "My best result at Phillip Island is second (in 2002) so I'm pretty keen to get a win under my belt after all the testing miles we've done around here. I don't think anyone should look at the Tasmanian round and say 'they can't win' because we qualified strongly there and just went the wrong way on brake set-up, as did a few others."

Mark Skaife (#2 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ - 5th in championship) "Holden and Ford have each won six rounds this year, and the Holden Racing Team has contributed three of those wins for Holden. It would be appropriate and fitting for us to be the team that brings the trophy home for Holden. This is our home track, and no one likes to get beaten at home. It's a point of pride for us that we do well this weekend, given that we have spent so much time here over so many years."

Steven Richards (#24 Castrol Perkins Commodore VZ - 6th in championship) "Mathematically we're in with a chance, but in all honesty the reality is that if the Castrol Perkins team has a great weekend and some of those ahead of us experience some misfortune then we're going to finish the year third or so. The focus is to qualify at the front and do the best we can, like we did in Tasmania. We are coming off a strong result and our car is fast, but Phillip Island is also not our test track. So on the same token, the goal is to move forward and not backwards."

Rick Kelly (#15 HSV Dealer Team Commodore VZ - 9th in championship) "Apart from Bathurst, Phillip Island is the track I enjoy most. It is a track like no other in Australia - fast, flowing and has some great corners. We tested there this week and tried a few things for this weekend. We think we have a pretty good chance, but a lot of cars will be fast there, so it won't be a pushover. But it will be fun."

Cameron McConville (#33 Valvoline Commodore VZ - 10th in championship) "Finishing in the top 10 in the championship is our focus for the weekend. We've clawed our way back into the top 10 in the last few rounds and we want to stay in it. The boys at GRM deserve a good result to round out 2005 but it's going to be a hard weekend given that three of the Holden teams use Phillip Island as their test circuit during the year."

Greg Murphy (#51 Super Cheap Auto Commodore VZ - 12th championship) "Finishing the year off strongly is important; after all the troubles we've had the Super Cheap Auto team deserves a good result. We started the year off really good, but then stumbled badly. A positive has been that our team has never given up and everyone has worked hard to make improvements. The speed we've shown in the latter part of the season has shown we're heading in the right direction. There'll be a fight going on around us, but Phillip Island is our test track and I'd like to think we'll be at the pointy end of the field and everyone else will have to sort the championship out for themselves."

Jason RIchards (#3 Tasman/Dodo Commodore VZ - 18th in championship) "It's not a circuit we've run on as a team so we'll be working hard to get up to speed as soon as possible. The two-hour practice session on Friday is important. I'm excited to race again at Phillip Island. It's been a shame it hasn't been on the calendar but I'm glad it's back."

THE RACING LINE - PHILLIP ISLAND, ROUND 13

* V8 Supercars are returning to Phillip Island for the first time since April 2003.

* The BigPond Grand Finale is the 15th time Phillip Island has hosted a round of the Australian Touring Car/ V8 Supercar Championship Series. It first ran a series round in 1976 when an endurance event won by Colin Bond in a Holden Dealer Team Torana L34 was part of the championship.

* While Holden's current streak of seven consecutive wins at Bathurst is impressive, the General also has an impressive record at Phillip Island. Holden won seven consecutive Island rounds from 1996 to 2002, only broken by Craig Lowndes' win in a rain-marred round in 2003.

* Phillip Island is a familiar venue for many of the Holden teams. The Holden Racing Team, HSV Dealer Team and Super Cheap Auto Racing all call the flowing 4.45-kilometre circuit their official test track.

* Holden owns the V8 Supercar qualifying and lap record at Phillip Island. Craig Lowndes' 1m32.0713s time from 2000 remains the qualifying mark while the race lap record stands at 1m33.4389s set a year earlier. The outright record is held by Simon Wills in a Formula Holden at 1m24.2215s.

* With drivers on full throttle for 38 % of a lap of Phillip Island, the fuel burn rate will be approximately 2.8-litres per lap. Teams will use 110 litres of their 120 litre tank capacity in the 140-kilometre race.

* Speeds are high at Phillip Island, with the V8 Supercars clocking 280 km/h on the front straight prior to turn one.

* Mark Skaife is equal with long-time friend and rival Glenn Seton as the most winning driver in ATCC/V8SCS rounds at Phillip Island. Both have won three rounds at the 'Island.

* Phillip Island will also host the final round of the HPDC V8 Supercar Series. Holden has dominated the three previous development series rounds held at the 'Island, taking pole position and the round win every time from 2000 to 2002. Holden Commodore driver Tony D'Alberto sits fifth in the series.

* Network Ten will telecast all of the BigPond Grand Finale, beginning on Saturday November 26 from 3pm to 5pm. Its coverage on Sunday November 27 will run from 1pm to 5pm.

-Holden Motorsport

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Simon Wills , Tony D'Alberto , Steven Richards , Phillip Island
Teams Holden Racing Team