Sandown: TeamVodafone preview

Lowndes and Whincup look to share in Sandown success once more.For Immediate Release: 27 July 2009While the mercury may be set to drop around 15 degrees in the transition from Townsville to Melbourne, TeamVodafone are confident of keeping their ...

Lowndes and Whincup look to share in Sandown success once more.For Immediate Release: 27 July 2009While the mercury may be set to drop around 15 degrees in the transition from Townsville to Melbourne, TeamVodafone are confident of keeping their scorching form ablaze at the weekend's Norton 360 Sandown Challenge.

The Brisbane-based team dominated the event in 2008, with drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup sharing all of the three available race wins.

The introduction of the option sprint tyre, combined with longer races, will render last year's strategy for success almost obsolete. Data obtained at Winton, Symmons Plains and Hidden Valley has been valuable in constructing a number of different scenarios to determine when best to bolt on the grippier compound.

A further telling factor will be Melbourne's changeable weather. Showers, storms and sunshine within the space of a few hours are not uncommon, and the team that best manages car setup in these conditions is sure to come to the fore.

The TeamVodafone duo, who were last week locked in as teammates until 2012, sit first and second on the list of current drivers to experience Sandown success.

Lowndes has won 8 races at the 3.1km circuit, the most of any current or past touring car star.

Whincup's 3 wins place him equal with Marcos Ambrose, and second on the list of today's competitors.

Lowndes, the only driver to have won both races at an event using the option sprint tyre, said the complexion of a typical Sandown weekend was set to change dramatically.

"I've enjoyed success on the circuit through both the 500km and sprint race formats," said Lowndes. "The circuit itself is quite bumpy, with a fast back straight which leads into a series of difficult corners.

"This year the start line will move to the front of the main grandstand, which will help us a bit as we won't be carrying as much speed into the first corner.

"We also see the return of the sprint tyre which always throws up a curve ball -- hopefully it will perform as it did in Tasmania in terms of longevity, but that is something we won't know until we get onto the track."

Lowndes is currently placed fourth in the V8 Supercar Championship Series standings, on 1110 points.

Teammate Whincup is looking to add to his exemplary run of results this weekend.

The winner of seven races in 2009 currently enjoys a 174-point buffer over second-placed Will Davison.

He said he was looking forward to the return to Sandown, a track he has raced on many times in his earlier years, and one that he had enjoyed much success on.

"Sandown has been a happy hunting-ground for me in the past, I feel very lucky to have been able to see the chequered flag first in both the 500km and sprint formats," said Whincup.

"Apart from the races I have won my other most memorable Sandown moment was from the 2006 race where Craig and I came from a lap down to finish third."

"This is an important event and one that can build solid momentum heading towards the endurance season."

"My aim is to work on the car on Friday and try to find a nice balance, we don't need to re-invent the wheel here. I feel very confident, we've had great pace in the past and are looking to carry over our fantastic results from Townsville a few weeks ago," he added.

The Norton 360 Sandown Challenge format features a race apiece on Saturday and Sunday.

Race 13 will be run over 32 laps, with Race 14 set to be run over 65 laps. 150 points apiece is on offer to race winners.

-credit: tv

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Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Will Davison , Jamie Whincup