CAMERON McLean and the Paragon Motorsport team have set their sights on their biggest year yet in V8 Supercar racing, today unveiling a new Ford Falcon XR8 and a commitment to contest the full season with a new major sponsor. V.I.P. Pet Foods...
CAMERON McLean and the Paragon Motorsport team have set their sights on their biggest year yet in V8 Supercar racing, today unveiling a new Ford Falcon XR8 and a commitment to contest the full season with a new major sponsor.
V.I.P. Pet Foods will back the champion Brisbane driver for his fourth season in Australia's premier motorsport series.
The Falcon, acquired by Paragon Motorsport just before Christmas, will race for the first time in new black and yellow "paw print" V.I.P. Pet Foods livery at the Australian Grand Prix meeting in Melbourne on 1-3 March.
The non-championship appearance will be followed by the 12-round V8 Supercar series, starting with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on 15-17 March.
The program includes the V.I.P. Pet Foods Queensland 500 in September and October's V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst, for which McLean will be joined by the highly experienced Tony Scott as co-driver.
"Having V.I.P. Pet Foods on board as the principal sponsor, a new car and the budget for a full season gives me my strongest shot yet at the championship," McLean said at the team's pre-season launch at Sanctuary Cove.
"The V8 Supercar series is incredibly tough and competitive, but we'll be starting it in the best possible shape.
"Also, having Tony Scott signed up by Paragon Motorsport right from the beginning of the year is ideal. He'll have plenty of time during testing to get to know the car and the team, although we're old friends and have raced together before."
McLean, 34, won the 1999 Privateer Championship in his inaugural V8 Supercar season, but did not contest the full series in 2000 and 2001.
His Bathurst record is impressive, including fourth outright with Dick Johnson Racing in 2001 and 2000 and, sharing with Tony Scott, fourth outright and first non-factory entry aboard a two-litre BMW in the Super Touring Bathurst 1000 of 1998.
Scott, 44, also from Brisbane, has raced touring cars for 14 years. His best V8 Bathurst result was sixth outright in 1995, sharing a Holden Commodore with British Touring Car Champion John Cleland.
Gold Coast-based V.I.P. Pet Foods was an associate sponsor of the McLean Falcon at several Shell Championship Series rounds last year, but the company's Managing Director Tony Quinn says he jumped at the chance to be principal sponsor in 2002.
"We were very happy with our various motor racing sponsorships last year, but having the V.I.P. Pet Foods Falcon V8 Supercar is going to be huge," Mr Quinn said.
The Falcon is being prepared by Paragon Motorsport at its workshop in Brendale, on Brisbane's northside.
Team Manager Ross Dillon says the car will be ready soon for testing at Queensland Raceway and expects it will be very quick with McLean at the wheel.
"We were very pleased to acquire this Falcon, which is virtually brand new with only a start at Bathurst under its wheels," Dillon said.
"It's got a Beehag body shell, two engines and a substantial quantity of spares. Last year we raced our previous Falcon without a second engine and we had to be cautious.
"As well as a top car, we've put together our strongest-ever team of experienced people. Chief Engineer Steve Hines will be ably supported by the return of Bruce Partington and Donald Kingdon.
"After today's launch, the Falcon will be stripped and rebuilt to Steve's specifications. We plan a few, mostly minor, changes but basically we're very happy and keen to see what it can achieve in combination with Cameron's talents."
While the Falcon is heading to the workshop, McLean began his own preparation this week with a fitness program designed to build his strength and staying power for the physical rigors of V8 Supercar racing.
In addition to V.I.P. Pet Foods, the Paragon Motorsport Ford Falcon V8 Supercar is sponsored by All Power Steering, Eibach Springs, Freightliner Trucks, Jade Engineering, PPG Paints, Revolution Racegear, Screen Offset Printing, Snap-on Tools, Spandex, Street Smart Designs and Wurth.