Holden Commodore pilot Jamie Whincup saw his advantage in the V8 Supercar championship shaved to just 29 points after a pair of powerful Perth performances by Will Davison but if previous results are any indication, this weekend’s trip to Phillip Island could provide just the tonic that Whincup needs to earn some breathing room.
The sixth of 16 2012 V8 Supercar events will see the 28-car field head to the tricky 12-turn layout for a pair of weekend races. The two-race format is a change for the Phillip Island event, which has been a 500-kilometer endurance event since 2008. But no matter how many races the sedans have run on the 4.445-km circuit, the Holden drivers have dominated competition, winning won nine of the last 12 V8 Supercar races hosted there, including all four long-distance wars held between 2008 and 2011.
Team Vodafone’s Whincup has been especially prolific at Phillip Island, having finished in the top three in eight of the last nine races and has qualified fourth or better in each of those starts as well. The reigning series champion is also expecting to compete in his 250th series start with Sunday’s event, which is the longer of the weekend’s two races.
Saturday’s event will cover 32 laps of the track which first hosted the series in 1993 while Sunday’s race will feature 45 laps of battle, making it the longest single-driver V8 Supercar event at Phillip Island since 2003.
Coming off a pair of wins last week, Trading Post FPR Ford driver Davison has also tasted victory at Phillip Island in his young career, ironically partnering with Garth Tander in a Holden to beat then-Ford pilots Whincup and Craig Lowndes by a scant 2.6 seconds in 2009.
Lowndes, who sits fourth in the 2012 standings, is a force to be reckoned with at Phillip Island any time the engines fire. The three-time series champion owns both the qualifying and race-lap records and has scored four poles and eight wins in his fabled career at the circuit.
The event weekend gets underway Friday with four separate practice sessions – although the first of the four outings are for drivers that will be competing in series endurance events later in the year.