BAIRD STEADY AHEAD OF WPS BATHURST 12 HOUR With all of the speculation currently surrounding his future, you could forgive motor racing stalwart Craig Baird for being on edge as he heads towards his 2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour performance next ...
BAIRD STEADY AHEAD OF WPS BATHURST 12 HOUR
With all of the speculation currently surrounding his future, you could forgive motor racing stalwart Craig Baird for being on edge as he heads towards his 2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour performance next weekend at Mount Panorama.
Baird, who will drive one of three Subaru WRX Sti machines for the Wilson Brothers Racing outfit on February 20-22, has been at the centre of much talk about his racing career over the past days following the sudden withdrawal of the Carrera Cup series in which he is a two-time and reigning champion.
Following the withdrawal, reports of a possible deal with Kiwi V8 Supercar team TKR Racing -- who he has driven for in the past -- have featured prominently in the media, with Baird himself quoted saying talks have been entered into.
However, no such forgiveness is required for the Gold Coast based Kiwi, who could not be more calm and collected despite the growing conjecture.
"No, not really," said Baird when asked if he would be out to prove a point.
"At the end of the day I have won 22 championships, I have won the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour in the past and was third in 2008 -- I have the results."
While Baird may not be out to prove himself, he still has pretty clear ideas on what he wants to get out of his latest Mount Panorama trip.
"In the 2007 Event we took the win but seriously I would have as much fun at the WPS Bathurst 12 Hour coming tenth as winning -- it is just one of those Events," said Baird.
"It is an endurance event and there is a lot of luck involved, if you have a good team and package you have as good a chance as any of standing on the podium -- you just need to go easy on the equipment and get in to a rhythm and most of all just enjoy it.
"That is why I am going there, it is one of those Events where -- well any time you get to drive around Bathurst is great -- but also all the drivers really enjoy it as you get there, you enjoy the racing and the Event, there are no championship pressures -- all the lads are there and they just have a chat and a cold beer at the end of the day.
"With motorsport I find that we sometimes forget about the fact that we are supposed to enjoy it and with this Event you will find yourself one minute having a chat to someone like Neil Crompton and the next you find yourself talking to Steve Johnson and Paul Morris."
Alongside fellow motoring identity Rodney Forbes -- who he shared his Spa campaign with last year -- and Lee Castle -- who drove and dominated in the Production Car series for the Wilson Brothers in 2008 -- Baird will take to the track in a Subaru WRX Sti, the same vehicle piloted by Castle over the past year.
"I have a huge amount of experience in the Subaru -- about three laps!" laughed Baird.
"Experience wise they are production cars and the hardest part I find in that kind of car is listening out for the engine as we are so used to screaming race cars and these ones are so quiet.
"What I am looking forward to is being at the wheel of a four wheel drive car -- with the BMW as a two wheel drive and heavy, when it came to the early morning start of this race I always dreaded the idea of whether it would be raining and in the dark, but with a four wheel drive I will love it -- I might even be praying for a bit of it!"
The Baird entry is joined under the Wilson Brothers Racing banner by two further cars - the second entry will feature a trio of Porsche experts, New Zealander Paul Kelly with Australians Dean Grant and Max Twigg, while the third entry will feature regular Production Car racer Chris Delfsma, Queenslander David Wood, and experienced tarmac rally driver Gary Tierney. Team Principal is Cameron Wilson.
The 2009 WPS Bathurst Showroom Enduro will be held at Mount Panorama on February 20-22 with an excess of 140 drivers across 49 entries set to take to the track. In addition to the 12 Hour race the Event will also incorporate the opening round of the 2009 Shannon's Nationals which will feature the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Saloon Cars, Formula Vee, HQ Holden's and Improved Production
The 2008 WPS 12 Hour Showroom Enduro was won by the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Damien White, Graham Alexander and Rod Salmon.