McCONVILLE FINALLY RETURNS TO WINT AS DEFENDING CHAMPION SUPERCHEAP Auto Racing's Cameron McConville had had to wait two years, but this weekend he finally gets to return to Winton Motor Raceway as the defending V8 Supercar round ...
McCONVILLE FINALLY RETURNS TO WINT AS DEFENDING CHAMPION
SUPERCHEAP Auto Racing's Cameron McConville had had to wait two years, but this weekend he finally gets to return to Winton Motor Raceway as the defending V8 Supercar round victor.
Following the cancellation of China's round in Shanghai and the return of the V8 Supercar Championship Series to the rural Victorian venue, McConville gets to defend his crown, won thanks to a penultimate corner pass on Rick Kelly in 2004.
The victory remains McConville's only V8 Supercar win, though considering that Winton is his Supercheap Auto Racing outfit's test circuit, the 32yearold feels his expectations of a strong result are higher than when he made his breakthrough two seasons ago.
"If there was a track to go back to as defending round champion -- other than Bathurst, of course -- for me it could not be more fitting than Winton," McConville said.
"Not only did I win my first V8 Supercar round there, it is also the track where my career began, racing Formula Vees in the late 1980s and I have also been a member of the Benalla Auto Club since I was 15.
"A lot has changed in the two years since we last raced at Winton and it's just not possible to predict with any confidence that you're going to win, the bar has been raised and the competition has become too tough.
"It's not going to be easy and I certainly don't expect anyone to leave the door wide open for me with just two corners to go again -- that sort of opportunity rarely comes along, if at all in one's life!"
On the other hand, Kelly looks back at the loss of a race win with a laugh, although he certainly didn't see the funny side of losing the race on the penultimate corner at the time.
"We had the car to win it last time, but I let Cameron through a few corners from the end, which is probably a silly way to lose the race," said Kelly, who had started 25 th on the grid that day.
"But you learn from these things. And the fact that both our cars ran in the top three just shows how strong we are at Winton.
"Our test session at Winton was great -- we learned a lot of good things and changed a few things.
"Even though the track grip wasn't there at some stages of the day, we still had a reasonable package and did some good times."
Holden's teams were all busy testing at Winton last week, with Holden Racing Team and Toll HSV Dealer Team joined on the Monday by Tasman Motorsport and Garry Rogers Motorsport.
GRM stayed on for Tuesday to conduct a rookie day with Lee Holdsworth, where the 23yearold was joined on track by Supercheap Auto Racing and Jack Daniel's Racing.
HOLDEN MOTORSPORT QUOTEBOOK
Garth Tander (#16 Toll HSV Dealer Team Commodore VZ -- 2 nd in points) "Winton should be incredibly competitive -- and cold. Most of the Victorianbased teams test there, including us, so it is going to be a tough weekend. Having said that, we had a solid test there last week. The car was not too bad; we were pretty speedy compared with some others who were there, so we are fairly confident that we can continue the pace that we have had all year. I think I have led a race at Winton nearly every year that I have been there, but for one reason or another, haven't got a result. Maybe this year."
Steven Richards (#7 Jack Daniel's Racing Commodore VZ -- 3 rd in points) "Make no bones about it; I see this as the toughest round of the year. Being our test circuit, it's a place the team knows well and we would all naturally enough expect to perform well. That said, it is also the test circuit for another 16 cars. We tested at Winton last week along with a number of other teams, so we'll hopefully be able to translate our data and experience from our test track into a solid result."
Mark Skaife (#2 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ -- 10 th in points) "I'm really enjoying racing this year; I've had some great battles already at each of the rounds so I'm looking forward to Winton. We have made some tangible improvements, both in powerdown and handling, that are starting to produce real benefits in terms of consistency. I've probably done more laps of that track than just about anywhere else so I'm hoping that stands us in good stead. We know we will roll a good car out of the truck, so we just have to make sure we manage the weekend well and stay on top of variables such as the weather and Safety Cars."
Jason Richards (#3 Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ -- 15 th in points) "The test day speed we had last Monday, where we were fastest overall, was a nice change from Perth. It's the first time we've tested at Winton specifically to go fast at Winton, rather than use it as the basis for coming up with a good setup for another track that we obviously don't test on. The other good news was that the car was good all day, and not just for one single lap. But you just don't know how that will work out for the race weekend."