- Australia's top series in Perth this weekend
- Whincup holds edge heading into weekend
- Barbagallo Raceway action could change points lead
Leader Whincup under siege from V8 Supercar field
I was really surprised to come away (from Hamilton) still leading.
Multiple race winners and the closest season on record have threatened Jamie Whincup's tenuous hold on the V8 Supercar Championship, so much so even he is surprised he still retains the lead.
TeamVodafone's Whincup has kicked himself and dusted off the demons of the ITM400 Hamilton of a fortnight ago, attempting to put right in this weekend's crucial Trading Post Perth Challenge in Western Australia.
Five different drivers have won the first six races of the season, Whincup being the only multiple winner, and going back through the stats 10 different drivers have won in the last 12 races since the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 last year.
Whincup is ever-alert that the field is closing in arguably the closest Championship season on record, setting the fastest practice time in his Holden Commodore at the Trading Post Perth Challenge today from Team BOCs Jason Bright (Ford Falcon) and team-mate Craig Lowndes (TeamVodafone Holden Commodore).
"I was really surprised to come away (from Hamilton) still leading after finishing two laps down in both races. We dropped the ball, its' complacency, simple as that," Whincup said.
"We went as hard as we could. You learn from those things. It's just so close. Without doubt having five out of six winners is the big stat. We haven't had a strong starter, we've had five guys winning different races.
"We always say it's tougher each year but this year is the closest by far which is ultimately great for the sport. The cars are as close as they have been and it's going to be a real dogfight to the end. That's great for everyone and how they want to engineer it."
Whincup's challenge this weekend will be dealing with a single hard tyre race tomorrow and then two races on soft tyres on Sunday. Adding to the pressure is Sunday qualifying where the fastest two times determine the grid for each race.
"For the engineers to get a good car on hard tyres and then switch to soft tyres is a huge challenge," he said.
Bright has had a great record in Perth during his career and is optimistic about becoming the sixth different winner in 2010.
"I had a shocker of an event in New Zealand but it proves you can turn around and do well the next week. I was elated to be where we are in the Championship after Hamilton which couldn't have been any worse. So to hold our position was satisfying.
"It's great to get back to a circuit like this. I've had some great runs here and some bad ones. It's the type of track that if you are having a good weekend it's easy but if you are having a bad one it's impossible."
Lowndes discounted leading the Championship after Perth but suggested a team goal might be for a 1-2 in the Championship, all things going well.
"It's nice to be back in Perth, we missed coming here last year. We came over recently and ran a ride car and had heaps of public support which was an indication of why we should be back here.
"Leading (after this weekend) I'm not sure. Hopefully I can move up a spot but to come away from here 1-2 would be sensational. Tomorrow's race is quite straight forward but it will get interesting on Sunday.
"We are delighted with where the car is today, you need a good balanced car and that's where we are at."
Hamilton Saturday winner Rick Kelly (Jack Daniel's Racing Commodore) was fourth in practice from Will Davison (Trading Post FPR Falcon), Fabian Coulthard (Bundaberg Racing Commodore), Mark Winterbottom (Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon), James Moffat (Jim Beam Racing Falcon) and Alex Davison (IRWIN Tools Falcon).
The session was marred by a couple of red flag periods, including a visit to the sand trap by Michael Caruso (Fujitsu GRM) and Todd Kelly (Jack Daniel's Racing).
Tomorrow's qualifying session will be held at 10.50am tomorrow.
In the Fujitsu Series Triple Eight Race Engineering pilot Andrew Thompson rolled onto the Barbagallo circuit ready to introduce Perth to the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series.
His matte black Commodore warmed to the 2.42km circuit, setting the fastest overall lap time of 0:57.3614, which will now sit as the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series practice lap record to beat at the Barbagallo track.