Eastern Creek II: Season finale preview

WPS want to reign on Ambrose' V8 Supercar party at BigPond Grand Emergent V8 Supercar Championship Series team WPS Racing has set itself the goal of spoiling Marcos Ambrose' party in the BigPond Grand Finale at Eastern Creek this weekend and the...

WPS want to reign on Ambrose' V8 Supercar party at BigPond Grand

Emergent V8 Supercar Championship Series team WPS Racing has set itself the goal of spoiling Marcos Ambrose' party in the BigPond Grand Finale at Eastern Creek this weekend and the ultimate goal of challenging the powerful Stone Brothers Racing team throughout 2005.

David Besnard's breakthrough in posting the team's first race win of the year at the Tasmanian Triple Challenge earlier this month has given the outfit a massive confidence jolt to complete their debut season in V8 Supercar racing.

As it stands WPS, with their Tasmanian breakthrough is the only other Ford team apart from SBR to win a race this year. All year Ambrose has been virtually playing a lone hand for the Blue Oval clan and has been stalked almost constantly by Holdens.

With 2004 planned as a 'testing the waters' year, it is now considered achievable the team may be a potent force in the series ahead of time. The goal is to be a consistent top 10 finisher and the second best performed team behind SBR in 2005.

Plans have already been put in place with the retention of Besnard and recruitment of established and experienced New Zealand driver Craig Baird who has switched from Team Kiwi Racing to WPS for next year. Paul Radisich has taken his place at TKR.

"We are just getting stronger and stronger as a team and a unit," Besnard said.

"Winning a race was probably always going to happen because of the progress we knew we were making but it may have come a little earlier than we might have expected. We rolled the dice on a safety car period in Tasmania and it worked out perfectly.

"Now there is no reason we can't now expect ourselves to be consistently in the top 10, consolidate on the big gains we've made this year and continue taking the steps we have, even if they are still only baby steps.

"The goal is to be like Stone Brothers Racing is now -- always at the pointy end of the field."

And Besnard has big plans for his new partner and great mate Baird.

"It's all positives about Craig joining us, without knocking the guys who were with us this year," Besnard said.

"He's been around a long time, he's experienced, he's level headed and going to be a great asset in the second car for a number of reasons.

"We can win Bathurst together as a driver combination."

WPS team manager Keith Evers agrees with Besnard that the team confidence, Baird's inclusion and the learning curve of 2004 have the team well on track.

"It's all about consolidating WPS as an identity and a legitimate race team," Evers says.

"This year has just been a massive learning curve for all of us from (team owner) Craig Gore down to the tyre fitter and it's awesome that we have won a race.

"I totally agree with David. With his (Besnard's) pace and Craig's consistency they will be a perfect combination. We can't wait until the enduros next year.

"Our aim next year is to become a team people look up to and aspire to be a part of. Our aim is to run in the top 10 for the year -- with both cars."

The BigPond Grand Finale is the likely place where Ambrose will capture his second successive title barring any major disasters. His challengers will be Holden duo Jason Bright and Greg Murphy who are still within reach of an upset.

Race one of the BigPond Grand Finale will be broadcast live by Network Ten in prime time on Saturday evening from 6.00pm while races two and three will be live on Sunday. The action is also broadcast live on BigPond Broadband.

Tickets are available from any Ticketmaster7 outlet, online at www.ticketmaster7.com, via telephone 1300 136 122 or at the gate.

<pre> BigPond Grand Finale V8 Supercar Championship Series schedule:

Friday December 3 10.30am-11.15am Practice 1.15pm-1.50pm Practice

Saturday December 4 11.40am-Noon Practice 1.40pm-2pm Bottom 50% qualifying 2.05pm-2.25pm Top 50% qualifying 4.05pm-4.35pm Top 10 Shootout 6.30pm 26 Laps (Race 1)

Sunday December 5 10am-10.20am Warm-up 12.30pm 39 Laps (Race 2) 3.40pm 39 Laps (Race 3)

Television times -- Network Ten

Saturday, December 4: 4.00pm - 5.00pm Top Ten Shootout 6.00pm - 7.30pm Race 1

Sunday, December 5: 1.00pm - 5.00pm Race 2 & 3

Track Facts -- Eastern Creek

Venue: Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney, NSW

2004 Race format: Top 10 Shootout 1 x 26 lap race 2 x 39 races with compulsory tyre stops

Circuit Length:         3.43km
Circuit Direction:      Anti-clockwise
Average Speed:          154.2kph
Maximum Speed:          260-270kph
Qualifying Record:      Mark Skaife     Holden Commodore, 1999          1:30.6550
Lap Record:             Mark Skaife     Holden Commodore, 1999          1:31.7301

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers David Besnard , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Mark Skaife , Craig Baird