Canberra: Paragon Motorsports preview

Round 5 - V8 Supercar Championship Series, Canberra, ACT A tough weekend ahead for drivers on Canberra street track, McLean predicts. "You have to be right on the money from the first session and absolutely accurate and committed because the...

Round 5 - V8 Supercar Championship Series, Canberra, ACT

A tough weekend ahead for drivers on Canberra street track, McLean predicts.

"You have to be right on the money from the first session and absolutely accurate and committed because the slightest mistake will put you into a concrete wall."

V.I.P. Pet Foods Ford Falcon XR8 driver Cameron McLean knows this from hard-earned experience and is keen kiss a trophy rather than the concrete in this weekend's Stegbar Canberra 400, round five of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

At last year's event, the 34-year-old Brisbane driver was fast enough to be comfortably among the Top 15 qualifiers, but a suspension problem forced his retirement from race one and helped him into the wall - and retirement from all further activities - in race two.

"Canberra's a tough place," he recalled today.

"You have to set up your car to ride well over the bumps and kerbs and look after your back tyres. It's mentally hard work - it's narrow and rough in parts; there's nowhere to go off but if you do, it's likely to hurt."

With few places to overtake, McLean says pit stops also will play a vital part.

"We'll need a good strategy to call the stops at the most opportune time and we'll need fast but clean stops. Good pit stops will be the best opportunity to pick up places."

Two 25-lap races - the second with a reverse-grid start - and a 50-lap finale with a compulsory pit stop make up the Stegbar Canberra 400's total distance of 400 kilometres.

McLean and his Paragon Motorsport team will have some extra expertise and inspiration to help them through the weekend.

Ex-Formula Holden engineer Matt Boniface joins the team from this weekend in a new engineerng role to develop the Falcon's suspension performance.

If mind over matter is especially important at a tough event like the Stegbar Canberra 400, Cameron will be able to compare mental approaches with Olympic and Commonwealth Games butterly swimming medallist Petria Thomas, who will take a high-speed ride around the 3.9 km Canberra street circuit with him tomorrow afternoon.

"I'm really looking forward to it - it's something I've always wanted to do but usually training or other commitments have prevented it.

"I have to go to training straight after my ride and for once I think there'll be more butterflies out of the pool than in it," Petria said.

TEAM SPONSORS: In addition to V.I.P. Pet Foods, the Paragon Motorsport Ford Falcon V8 Supercar is sponsored by Cox Lawn Care Products, All Power Steering, Eibach Springs, Freightliner Trucks, PPG Paints, Revolution Racegear, Screen Offset Printing, Snap-on Tools, Spandex, Street Smart Designs and Wurth.

CAMERON'S 2001 STORY: Qualifying - McLean 13th, 1:43.27. Top 15 Qualifying - McLean 14th, 1:48.02 (Pole - Johnson, 1:43.87). Race 1 - McLean DNF, suspension (Johnson 1st). Race 2 - McLean DNF, crash (Richards 1st). Race 3 - McLean DNS (Skaife 1st).

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after Round 4): 62 points McLean (33rd overall); 1044 Skaife, 577 Murphy, 508 Ambrose.

TIMETABLE:

Friday - 9.45 Practice (30 min.), 11.55 Practice (30 min.), 2.00 Qualifying (top 50%, 25 min.), 2.30 Qualifying (bottom 50%, 25 min.).

Saturday - 9.55 Warm-up (15 min.), 11.10 Top 15 Qualifying (45 min.), 2.55 Race 1 (25 laps / 97.5 km, tyres).

Sunday - 9.10 Warm-up (15 min.), 11.00 Race 2 (25 laps / 97.5 km, reverse grid, tyres), 2.10 Race 3 (50 laps / 195 km, fuel & tyres).

TV - Network Ten, Saturday 2.00 - 5.00, Sunday 1.30 - 5.00.

-pm-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Cameron McLean