THE COUNTDOWN TO BATHURST BEGINS
With only 22 days until the on track action for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 commences at the famous Mount Panorama circuit it is all systems go in the WPS Racing workshop at Gaven in Queensland.
Given the five week gap between rounds the majority of the crew took a break last week to prepare themselves for the hectic schedule they are faced with following next month's round at Bathurst.
This week however it is a different story in the workshop with all hands back on deck and the pair of WPS Racing Falcons being disassembled and stripped back to almost a bare shell. Within two weeks the cars will have a comprehensive check over and all components assessed and tested before being refitted or replaced during the reassembly stage.
With the 1000km journey being the toughest on the car's components in the championship a good preparation is vital if the team is going to be successful at Mount Panorama next month.
"With a very hectic schedule following Bathurst it doesn't allow for much time for the guys working on the cars to have a day off, so they had last week off and are now flat out making sure everything is perfect for the run to the end of the year," said Director of WPS Motorsport Shane Gore.
"Reliability is certainly the key to being successful in the long distance races. It is the preparation by the guys in the workshop which can be the difference between a good result or finishing 10 laps down.
"Right now the guys are in the process of making sure everything is ship shape before starting to bolt the cars back together next week and we will head to a test day the following week."
Team driver Jason Bargwanna has stood on the podium at Bathurst on two occasions. In 1998 he finished third with Jim Richards before going on to win the race in 2000 with Garth Tander.
"After a disappointing end to my first Bathurst campaign in a V8 Supercar in 1997 it was great to come back 12 months later and finish on the podium. It was certainly one of the highlights of my career at that point in time. I'd won my class in 1992 but to be able to get on the podium as an outright contender was pretty amazing," said Bargwanna.
"The dream of any young Australian motor racing driver is to stand on top of the podium at Bathurst. To win the race and stand of top of the podium is something very, very special and something I'll remember for a long, long time to come.
"While one victory is good, I'd dearly love to get another win at Mount Panorama."
While Bargwanna is the only driver in the team to have won a Bathurst crown, two of his counterparts, Craig Baird and David Besnard, both have had victories stolen from them in the past. Baird crossed the line first in 1997 before later being excluded due to a technicality, while Besnard was leading the race when paired with Tony Longhurst before the latter crashed out with 10 laps remaining in 2000.
Baird is currently leading the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Championship by virtue of winning three of the five rounds contested so far in 2006, while Besnard recently sealed a deal to contest the upcoming New Zealand V8 Championship.
Brazilian-born Wilson is currently in the midst of enjoying his best championship position since landing on Australian shores in 2002 and is confident the continual improvement by the team will ensure WPS is one of the dark horse outfits in this year's endurance races.
"We proved at Sandown that we have got some good speed on board both our cars by qualifying fourth and fifth on the grid before running strongly during the race," said Wilson.
"I believe we are serious contenders to be well inside the top six or seven, who knows if things fall our way a podium is certainly not out of the question."
The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is the ninth round of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship at Mount Panorama on October 5-8.
-credit: WPS Racing