BARGWANNA AND TAGLIANI LOOK TO REPEAT PAST SURFERS SUCCESS
Rock Racing drivers Jason Bargwanna and Alex Tagliani are keen to revisit the podium at the Surfers Paradise street circuit at this weekend's Armor All Gold Coast 600.
Bargwanna was the overall winner of the Gold Coast event in 2002, also winning the final race of that event. He then scored another surfboard trophy with third place overall in 2004.
While this is only the third V8 Supercar start for Tagliani, he also has two podium finishes at Surfers Paradise, both in Champ Car, with third place in 2001 and 2004. At his last start on the Gold Coast in the IndyCar event in 2008, Tagliani was fourth.
Bargwanna sees the #11 Rock Commodore as an entry to watch this weekend at the shortened 2.984 kilometres circuit, with Tagliani one of only a handful of the international drivers present this weekend to have previous V8 Supercar starts. Tagliani partnered Marcus Marshall in the V8 endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst in 2005.
Dale Wood will partner Tony Ricciardello in the #16 Stratco Commodore on the Gold Coast this weekend.
It will be the third endurance event of the season for Wood, who paired with Todd Kelly in the #7 Jack Daniel's Commodore at Phillip Island and Bathurst.
The Armor All Gold Coast 600 will be the first start for both Ricciardello and Wood at the Surfers Paradise street circuit.
KELLY RACING QUOTEBOARD:
JASON BARGWANNA - #11 Rock Holden Commodore
"This has always been an event that I love," said Jason Bargwanna.
"I have had two podiums here and I won pole here last year on the Sunday, so this place definitely been good to me.
"Looking at Tags's stats on the Gold Coast he has had his fair share of success here in Champ Car and IndyCar, so I think our Rock Commodore could be a good bet for this weekend.
"I'm really happy to have Alex in the car with me. It really helps that I've got one of the few internationals with V8 experience alongside me.
"He knows the track well, knows what to expect from these cars and is of course a world-class driver.
"We're getting on well and he's really keen to get going and do well. I'm very pleased to see him so keen and excited about the weekend."
ALEX TAGLIANI - #11 Rock Holden Commodore
QUESTION: You had the chance to visit the Kelly Racing facility for a seat fitting over the weekend. How does it compare to team workshops you have seen all around the world?
"I think it is very impressive to see how organised this team is," said Alex Tagliani.
"Obviously we know about V8 Supercars because we have been racing with them for the last eight or nine years at least at Surfers.
"So to actually visit the race team and spend some time with everyone is quite nice. Just to have the opportunity to do it with two guys that are running their own team and are also drivers is very unique, because that's the position I was in this year with FAZZT.
"It's a humungous opportunity to be able to do it right with the right people and a strong team at Surfers, which is always a track where I've done really well and means a lot to me because obviously I met my wife here in 2001. So I'm very excited about the whole event."
QUESTION: You have raced a V8 Supercar before, so did all those memories flood back when you climbed aboard the Rock Commodore for a seat fitting?
"It felt different. It's going to be interesting to drive the car with the new sequential gearbox. I think it's going to make the adaptation a lot easier for open-wheel guys.
"I'm sure that over the years the cars have changed. I'm sure that the technology always continues to improve and the teams are working really hard to make them better.
"I'm excited and looking forward to trying the car on Wednesday and from that point of view I'll see how much they have changed from what I remember since last time I was over here."
QUESTION: Last time you raced a V8 Supercar it was at two brand new tracks. But the Gold Coast is a track where you have done hundreds of laps. Does it help racing at a track you know well?
"I think it's still going to be difficult but it is not going to be as difficult to get used to the car with very limited track time and on top of that learning the tricks of the track.
"Knowing the track in Surfers puts all my focus on getting used to the car and pushing the car to its limit. You know the track, you know where the bumps are, you know the racing line and everything, so that's going to be the part that is going to be nice. When I drove in V8s last time I was just dropped in the middle of the race weekend learning the track, the car, everything, so it was a lot to take on.
"For open-wheel drivers to jump into a sedan car is not easy. Having a test on Wednesday prior to the race is going to be another nice thing. Hopefully we can do a good job."
QUESTION: Most of the races you do are single drivers races in IndyCar. Have you done much endurance racing before where you share the car with other drivers?
"I have done the 24 Hours of Daytona in a GT car and the driver changes become kind of a race in itself, because getting in and out of the pits is important.
"Because you have a driver change in the middle of the pit stop you want to do it as fast as you can. We apply a lot of attention and a lot of time into making sure that your in laps and out laps are important to gain half a second or a second, but you could lose that on a poor driver change.
"So it is going to be important to practice all of that but it's just another addition to the Gold Coast event that will be really good for all the fans."
QUESTION: The Gold Coast event is special for you for a number of reasons. You met your wife Bronte there in 2001, you have been on the podium there before in Champ Car and you were even an adopted Aussie for a few years racing in the green and gold of the local team. When IndyCar left the event at the end of 2008 did you ever think you would be back?
"I'm very excited to be back. We all loved to come to this track. It was very unique, first of all from a technical point of view because the track is really nice to drive. It has very fast chicane on the back straight and in an IndyCar it was absolutely amazing. It had good 90-degree corners with good braking zones for passing.
"So it was always a good track to drive and it was always an event that was very well organised and very popular.
"I'm very glad that they came up with this format, which is interesting to bring some IndyCar drivers back here and into V8 Supercars. It gives us a chance to drive V8s and a chance to be back here in Australia.
"For me it's always a pleasure to be back so I'm going to try to enjoy my time back here with Bronte."
TONY RICCIARDELLO - #16 Stratco Holden Commodore:
"This is another new circuit for me and I'm really excited about this event," said Tony Ricciardello.
"Surfers is a track everyone knows well from watching the IndyCar and V8 races here over the years. Racing so close to the beach is unique and it's a great event.
"I'm happy to have 'Woody' in the Stratco Commodore for this weekend. We will make a good combination and we're keen to fly under the radar and put together two solid races.
"You've got to be very accurate with the car around this track because there are walls either side for practically the entire lap.
"The fastest way around is to skim right against the walls through many of the corners so it's a hairy lap and you can't afford to push over the limit."
DALE WOOD - #16 Stratco Holden Commodore:
"I think it's going to be a really great event and I'm happy to be a part of it," said Dale Wood.
"To run in all three endurance events gives me some good seat time in these cars, which is something young drivers always suffer with.
"I think the organisers have done a great job with this new event and building it up so I'm hoping we can do a solid job in the Stratco Commodore in front of the big crowd.
"I think the attrition rate will be big at this event, something similar to what we see at Clipsal, but I think it will be a great challenge and a big event.
"For Phillip Island and Bathurst we didn't get the attrition that we expected and that just shows the high level that the drivers and teams are at these days.
"But for the Gold Coast it will be a different story because we have guys coming out that are all world-class drivers but are driving these cars is something completely different.
"Not only that but the Gold Coast circuit is something else again because all that concrete is so unforgiving. Even for the regular drivers out there it will be tough and you will see plenty of drama and safety cars.
"So for Tony and I in the Stratco Commodore we will be treating this race a little like Adelaide, in that if you finish the Clipsal 500 you generally know you are going to have a half-reasonable result.
"There will be some guys out there that will still race really hard and then there will be those entries who decide to take a more conservative approach. It comes down to where you are in the championship and how much you want to put the car on the line."
-source: kelly racing