IRWIN RACING - V8 SUPERCAR RACE PREVIEW - MOUNT PANORAMA BATHURST - SUPERCHEAP AUTO 1000 IRWIN/SP TOOLS RACING READY FOR THE 'GREAT RACE' IRWIN Racing's Alex Davison is confident of challenging for victory in Australia's premier motor sports...
IRWIN RACING - V8 SUPERCAR RACE PREVIEW - MOUNT PANORAMA BATHURST - SUPERCHEAP AUTO 1000
IRWIN/SP TOOLS RACING READY FOR THE 'GREAT RACE'
IRWIN Racing's Alex Davison is confident of challenging for victory in Australia's premier motor sports event, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on 11 October at Mount Panorama. Davison will join Stone Brothers Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen in the #9 IRWIN/SP Tools entry for what is one of the highlights on the Australian sporting calendar.
The 'Great Race' at Bathurst dates back to 1963 with the winners list featuring many heroes of Australasian motor sport. 161 laps around the 6.213km circuit is regarded as the greatest challenge in racing and remains the centrepiece of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Davison and van Gisbergen showed last month at Phillip Island that they are on the pace. Davison was sitting third during the opening 18-laps before a loose wheel punctured the right-front tyre. He came back from a lap down and combined with van Gisbergen jumped from 28th to 10th at the end of the 500km race.
Davison has a very strong record at Mount Panorama with four top-10 finishes from five starts. He has one of the fastest drivers in the series sharing the car in Gisbergen. Plus there is the experience of Stone Brothers Racing; which took victory at Bathurst in 1998 and podium finishes over the last three years as well as three V8 Supercar championships.
Preparation and strong team work in and out of the car will be critical for success at Bathurst. One of the key changes for the race in 2009 is the addition of the E85 Ethanol blended race fuel. The new fuel has a higher consumption rate and extra pit stops, including double stints at the wheel for the drivers, could be on the cards this year at Mount Panorama.
As well as the leading #9 entry for Davison and van Gisbergen, there will be the #4 IRWIN/SP Tools Racing Ford Falcon for talented youngster Daniel Gaunt and two-time New Zealand V8 Supercar Champion John McIntyre. Gaunt will be doing double-duty at Mount Panorama with extra time on the track for practice, qualifying and two 14-lap races in the Fujitsu V8 Series over the race weekend.
WHAT ALEX DAVISON HAS TO SAY:
"Bathurst means a lot to people who don't even follow motor racing. To actually be in the race is truly exciting and something I look forward to every year. The day, and indeed the entire week, including the atmosphere is like no other. As soon as you hit the track at Mount Panorama you know you are racing at a very special place. I have had some very good results over the years at Bathurst, but I have to say this year I'm really looking forward to challenging for a victory. Our pace as a team has been on the up and I believe our car will suit Mount Panorama. Plus the team has scored podium finishes over the last three years; so all up we are feeling confident ahead of the race. There might be others who show glimpses of speed throughout practice, qualifying and at some stage during the race, but we feel that Shane and I in our IRWIN/SP Tools Racing Ford will be one of the stronger line-ups to do it all day on Sunday. It will be different this year in terms of the higher fuel consumption, and we will just need to treat each stint as a sprint, with the only change to that being determined by the safety car. It is different in terms of jumping in and out of the car throughout the day, but it will be balls out all the way. Ensuring we are near the front for the fight to the chequered flag is what we are aiming to do."
WHAT DANIEL GAUNT HAS TO SAY:
"It really is a great race and to make my debut at Bathurst as part of the IRWIN/SP Tools team is a dream come true. I have been watching the race since I was five years of age and I went to see the event for the first time last year. I attended the races at Easter and did as many laps as possible in a road car. The great thing is that I will also be competing in the Fujitsu Series, so by the time the race starts on Sunday I will be well and truly up to speed for the 1000km classic. John is a very experienced driver and will do the majority of the practice and qualifying. So that combined with my time in the Fujitsu Series car will see us go into the race very well prepared. At Phillip Island I did the entire second half of the race without a break. That proved to be as long as I have ever driven a racecar and it proved beneficial heading to Bathurst. I'm excited about getting up there, but once the race is underway it is very much down to business and making sure we do a great job for all concerned. For us a finish well inside the top-10 is like a victory, anything above that would be a massive bonus."
WHAT TEAM DIRECTOR ROSS STONE HAS TO SAY:
"Bathurst stands alone as what is without doubt the best race track in the country and one of the greatest in the world. The whole event is so special and the atmosphere just adds to that. You would have to go a long way in Australia or New Zealand to find a person who had never heard of Bathurst and certainly everyone appreciates what winning at Mount Panorama means. Bathurst is clearly important to our team, the win in 1998 really set things up for us. It got us the support and backing from business to go onto win championships and a lot of races; without that first win at Bathurst it could have been a different story. We have had great days up there and other times when it has slipped through our fingers. However, having finished on the podium over the last three years we really feel that 2009 could be one of our best years at Mount Panorama. The important thing is that we have our two regular drivers in Alex and Shane in the lead IRWIN/SP Tools Racing entry. That gives us the ability to be flexible on strategy, especially with the higher fuel consumption this year and if the weather turns. In the second cars I'd like to see John McIntyre and Daniel Gaunt get inside the top-12. After their strong showing at Phillip Island I'm sure that is an achievable goal. These guys have very good race experience and I'm sure that will show on the Mountain."