BATHURST BECKONS AS LOWNDES AND WHINCUP UNITE FOR TEAM BETTA Ten years after he last took victory at the legendary Mount Panorama, Team Betta Electrical's Craig Lowndes will line up for his best chance yet at returning to the top...
BATHURST BECKONS AS LOWNDES AND WHINCUP UNITE FOR TEAM BETTA
Ten years after he last took victory at the legendary Mount Panorama, Team Betta Electrical's Craig Lowndes will line up for his best chance yet at returning to the top step of the podium, assisted by his talented and capable teammate Jamie Whincup.
The team's Super Cheap Auto 1000 Bathurst campaign is just days away from beginning, and spirits are high within the Brisbane-based outfit, with a recent test session proving extremely beneficial for the drivers and pit crew ahead of the 9th round of the national series.
Lowndes is the current V8 Supercar Series points leader, and knows the outcome of the 1000km race will be crucial in determining the eventual champion -- he will pull out all stops next Sunday to ensure the #888 Ford Falcon is well in contention as the race nears the final stages.
"It has been 10 years since I won at Bathurst and personally I have never felt better prepared for this event," said Lowndes.
"Without a doubt this is the best driver pairing of my career, Jamie is doing a tremendous job this year and knows what is required to get on the podium at Bathurst having finished second there last year."
"The whole team is really looking forward to getting to Bathurst after the five week break and we are all a lot more confident going into this year's event."
"We had a successful shakedown yesterday and given the car speed we had at Mt Panorama last year we will run a very similar setup."
"Last year we had nothing to lose, this year we are in a totally different position and will need to race smart and be mindful of the championship."
"Once again weather will play a big role in the outcome of this event and tyre choice on the circuit can also be critical. It is a long lap around Mount Panorama -- it can literally be raining on one side and sunny on the other."
"Last year's result was pretty disappointing, we were the quickest around Mt Panorama and had a reliable car but it just wasn't to be, hopefully all our hard work and preparation will pay off and this will be our year."
Paired with Lowndes is the 23-year-old distance-race expert Jamie Whincup, who has finished on the podium in his last three endurance event attempts, an achievement shared by just one other driver in the field.
As teammates in the regular season rounds, the duo has worked exceptionally well together, and combine to form an even stronger endurance pairing with both drivers enjoying similar car setups.
Whincup experienced a meteoric rise to recognition in 2005 following his string of podium results, and is determined to 'go one better' at Bathurst this year with Lowndes and Team Betta Electrical.
"This has been our biggest break of the year with a five week gap from Sandown to Bathurst," said Whincup.
"The break has been excellent for me personally, I have really done a lot of training and while the team has worked on car development I have worked on my own driver development for the important run home to the end of the season," he explained.
"I am very excited to be driving with Craig at Bathurst, it's been 10 years since he last won there and I would love to be the one to help him to secure his next win at the 'Mountain."
"I know what's required of me as a co-driver and I'm determined to get in and give it my all."
"Bathurst is my favourite event so no matter what I am just looking forward to getting up there and driving around the track."
Triple Eight Race Engineering has a proven reliability record, with both cars demonstrating consistent performances across the course of the season.
Team Principal Roland Dane is pleased with the progress that the team has made since Sandown, where the lead pairing of Lowndes and Whincup achieved a stunning third place finish after coming back from a lap down.
"At Sandown the team demonstrated that they are very capable of working in the high pressure situation of an endurance race, and Craig, Jamie and the crew were able to adapt the race strategy and work on bringing home a really good result," said Dane.
"We have been given a long break to prepare for Bathurst and everyone has contributed their all to ensure both cars will be perfect next week."
"The team has showed round after round why it is both leading the championship and the top Ford team in the paddock, there is a very positive vibe at the workshop and I look forward to the Bathurst weekend."
Providing strong backup as the team's second entry will be the pairing of Alan Simonsen and Richard Lyons, campaigning Jamie Whincup's regular season car #88.
Simonsen will make his 4th start in the Bathurst 1000 race, and has finished as high as 10th place in the past. It will be Lyons' first ever experience at the world-renowned circuit, and he will look to provide strong support to Simonsen and bring home the Team Betta Electrical Falcon in sight of the top 10.
Proceedings for the event kick off on Thursday October 5, with an open practice session beginning at 10.40am.
Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup will take on the guest role as Domino's delivery drivers on Thursday from 2.00-3.00pm, delivering free pizzas to campers at McPhillamy Park on the mountain.
The drivers will contest a further two practice sessions on Friday ahead of a 45 minute qualifying session.
The spectacle of the Top 10 Shootout can be seen from 3.40pm on Saturday afternoon, and drivers will contest an early morning Sunday warmup from 7.10am before the green flag is waved at 10.00am.
The Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will take place over 161 laps of the 6.213km circuit.