Eastern Creek: Paragon Motorsport pre-qualifying preview

McLean faces do-or-die pre-qualifying today. BEFORE even the first race in round three of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, Cameron McLean and the Paragon Motorsports team Falcon XR8 will face their biggest challenge today when they contest...

McLean faces do-or-die pre-qualifying today.

BEFORE even the first race in round three of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, Cameron McLean and the Paragon Motorsports team Falcon XR8 will face their biggest challenge today when they contest a sudden-death pre-qualifying session at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway.

"If we get through today I'm confident we can carry through with a good weekend, but we'll have to be at our best virtually straight out of the box for pre-qualifying against some pretty strong competitors," McLean, from Brisbane, said.

"Our record at Eastern Creek is good. We scored two ninth place finishes last year after qualifying 17th, so it holds no fears for us as long as we make the cut today."

This weekend's format features three races, including a twilight 13-lapper tomorrow. That will give McLean plenty of opportunity to build his championship pointscore.

The V.I.P. Pet Foods-sponsored Falcon has undergone significant front suspension changes after the team discovered a problem that caused McLean to miss the cut in pre-qualifying at Phillip Island two weeks ago. The team also has recruited a new number one mechanic, Garry Bailey, formerly with Briggs Motorsport and Lansvale Racing.

But McLean will have only a 20-minute practice session at 1.00 pm to prove those changes, followed by 45 minutes for any further adjustments, before the pre-qualifying of just 15 minutes at 2.05 pm.

The competition will be intense, with not only McLean, but also Glenn Seton, Mark Larkham, Paul Morris, Neil Crompton, Greg Ritter and Cameron McConville among the 13 drivers competing for the last seven spots on the grid.

Paragon Motorsport team manager Ross Dillon says the system for determining starters must be changed to preserve the interests of teams with million-dollar investments.

"The organisers say the grid limit is 32 because of pit lane safety concerns and therefore we must have pre-qualifying, but I think that's over-stated and certainly can be overcome," he said.

"There are 36 cars committed to the V8 Supercar series, including ours, and having made that comittment all should be able to start.

"No sponsor can be expected to put $1 million into a team only to see it sent home on Friday afternoon after contesting just 15 minutes of qualifying. That will end up harming not only the teams, but also the commercial value of the series.

"At the moment, the interests of the members of TEGA, the teams organisation to which we all belong, are not being looked after. That needs to change."

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.

TRACK FACTS:
Length - 3.93 km.
Lap record - 1 min. 31.73 sec. / 154 kmh
(Qualifying - 1:331.39).

THE 2001 STORY:
Qualifying - McLean 17th, 1:32.42 (Murphy 1st 1:31.39).
Race 1 - McLean 9th (Murphy 1st).
Race 2 - McLean 9th (Skaife 1st).

TIMETABLE:

Friday
1.00 Pre-qualifying practice (20 min.)
2.05 Pre-qualifying (15 min.).

Saturday
10.15 Practice (20 min.)
12.05 Practice (20 min.)
2.00 Qualifying Top 50% (25 min.)
2.30 Qualifying Bottom 50% (25 min.)
3.35 Qualifying Top 10 (30 min.)
5.05 Race 1 (13 laps).

Sunday
10.00 Warm-up (15 min.)
11.15 Race 2 (39 laps, pit stop for 4 tyres)
2.45 Race 2 (39 laps, pit stop for 4 tyres).

TV - Network Ten, Sunday 1.00 - 5.00.

-pm-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Neil Crompton , Mark Larkham , Paul Morris , Cameron McLean , Greg Ritter , Phillip Island