YOUNG KIWI HAPPY WITH UNDERDOG STATUS Young Kiwi gun Shane van Gisbergen and his SP Tools-backed Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon V8 co-driver Jonathan Webb are definite underdogs going into this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 km race at ...
YOUNG KIWI HAPPY WITH UNDERDOG STATUS
Young Kiwi gun Shane van Gisbergen and his SP Tools-backed Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon V8 co-driver Jonathan Webb are definite underdogs going into this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 km race at Bathurst.
And that's just fine as far as the no-nonsense pair are concerned.
"There is a lot of talk this year about SBR's lead driver and co-driver combination. And in some ways it does make it a little bit harder, getting another driver familiar with the car, " agrees 18-year-old van Gisbergen.
"But with Jonathon, he is in the SBR Fujitsu car during the year and the cars are very similar.
"We also don't mind being the underdog. It takes a bit of pressure off.
"We can go into the race, do our own thing and do the best we can do and hopefully sneak away with the result at the end."
Webb, who has been competing in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar (Development) series this year agrees, saying;
"There is an advantage in having two lead drivers together; they both know the cars well and are comfortable right away.
"But we are in that situation too; I have the advantage of driving SBR's Fujitsu car all year and the cars are very similar.
The pair finished 10th in the recent L&H 500km endurance race at Phillip Island and Webb believes that all going well another top ten finish is possible this weekend.
"Our potential at Phillip Island was probably better than our end result but it was one of those races where you roll the dice and anything could have happened.
"We ran where we expected; we felt we belonged in the top ten, that's what we were aiming for and will be again at Bathurst."
Though the forecast has showers possible on Saturday but not Sunday acknowledged wet weather ace van Gisbergen wouldn't mind if that changed either.
"It would probably be good for us if the race was wet; the car handles well in the wet and I do enjoy it. But you can't hope and pray for it, you have to have the pace in the dry too."
As for his JELD-Wen-backed Stone Brothers Racing teammates James Courtney and David Besnard, they are also downplaying the conventional wisdom that the Bathurst 1000 can only be won by lead driver combinations, the pair warning fans not to write them off as they aim to take the next step to the top of the podium.
SBR is one of the few teams that approach the race with the traditional driver and co-driver combinations, with Ross and Jimmy Stone placing great importance on finding the right co-drivers to partner their lead drivers in the two SBR BF Falcons.
They've got good reason for confidence too, having claimed two podiums in two years and five top five finishes since 2004 using the strategy.
Courtney and Besnard also believe that their results speak for themselves; the pair grabbing a nail-biting second place at last year's event, with Besnard the only non-full time V8 Supercar driver on the podium.
They recently showed great speed to qualify third at the L&H 500 at Phillip Island too, the pair finishing a credible sixth despite tyre wear problems throughout the day.
"A lot of people don't really rate Bezzy (David Besnard) and I as a chance," Courtney said this week, "but we've been on the podium the last two years and as long as you are in contention on the lead lap after that last stop, you can win it.
"Good strategy can keep you in the game; safety cars, weather, there are so many variables in the day.
"The whole day is not about outright speed, it only comes into play after the last stop.
"Also, with the driver/co-driver set up we are both clear on what our role is -- there's no fighting for status within the team and we can focus on getting the job done.
"We don't listen to all the talk; we know we are a chance and we will put our heads down and go hard."
The JELD-WEN Motorsport and SP Tools Racing Falcons take to the track for practice today with Qualifying and the top-ten shootout on Friday and Saturday respectively before the 1000km race on Sunday.
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