DUMBRELL GIVES HOLDEN ANOTHER CHALLENGER IN 2006 SERIES Jack Daniel's Racing driver Paul Dumbrell has been a regular in the V8 Supercar Series for Larry Perkins' team since late 2002 but this year has gone from showing the odd flash...
DUMBRELL GIVES HOLDEN ANOTHER CHALLENGER IN 2006 SERIES
Jack Daniel's Racing driver Paul Dumbrell has been a regular in the V8 Supercar Series for Larry Perkins' team since late 2002 but this year has gone from showing the odd flash of speed to providing consistent and regular strong results.
The improvements made by the Melbourne-based 23-year-old have helped give Holden another challenger firmly placed in the top 10 in the championship, a marked difference to previous seasons where team-mate Steven Richards has been the sole championship performer within the team.
Fresh from his first front row qualifying performance in the last round at Winton where he also led the final race in its early stages, Dumbrell is enjoying his best season so far in the category.
Top 10 results at Adelaide, Pukekohe and Winton, in addition to a strong recovery drive to finish 11th at Barbagallo, have all helped elevate Dumbrell to seventh place in points, his highest position at this time of the season in his career.
Ironically, Dumbrell puts his form turn-around down to one of the lowest points in his career - crashing out of last year's Bathurst 1000.
"The big turn around was Bathurst last year," says Dumbrell, who this weekend heads to Hidden Valley in Darwin for round five of the series.
"It was one of the most disappointing moments of my entire career and I realised that I had to make a really big, concerted effort to get it right for the later part of 2005 and prove to Larry that I was worth sticking with.
"I've worked on the mental side as well. I've sat down and figured out exactly what it is I need and want to achieve. Motorsport is a pressure- oriented field and one mistake on a race track can mean so much more than a mistake on the football field. There are lots of times you can't recover.
"The older guys have made their mark and are very strong. But the next tier of drivers, which includes me, has stepped up now and are closing the gap and fighting more and more for position."
As Dumbrell makes his claim and edges closer and closer towards his first appearance on a V8 Supercar podium, Holden Racing Team driver Todd Kelly has eyes towards a third consecutive Hidden Valley victory.
Kelly has had a shocking run in recent rounds and has elected to focus on winning races and rounds rather than racing with the championship at the forefront of his mind.
"It's enormously frustrating, we just can't seem to take a trick at the moment," said Kelly, who sits 12th in points.
"Our car speed has been good and is just getting better the more we develop the car. But since Clipsal we have had one problem or another that has been out of our control at every single round. We're just about sick of it. "Hidden Valley is a track I really enjoy, the long straight suits cars with good top-end speed and our engines are definitely working well at the moment in terms of both the quick stuff and getting power down out of the corners.
"It is so hard to win in this sport that the chance to put together a hat- trick of wins at any track is something very special. I didn't get to defend last year's victory in China so I'm pretty pumped to put in a good one in Darwin."
Whether it is current championship points or adjusted points with the worst round dropped, Holden drivers lead the way on both counts in the 2006 series.
Toll HSV Dealer Team drivers Garth Tander and Rick Kelly are 1-2 in the championship and head back to Darwin with the knowledge that their team began its 2005 turn-around at the same track last year with respective second and third podium placings.
His Toll outfit leads the Teams Championship over Jack Daniel's Racing, while Holden is equal with Ford in the Manufacturers Award with two round victories apiece.
On adjusted points, HRT's Mark Skaife leads the way in the driver's championship, though with five more rounds to be run before drivers can officially drop their worst round score - including the Sandown and Bathurst endurance events - the five-time champion is the last person getting carried away with his 'lead'.
Holden's Commodore has been a dominant force at Hidden Valley. Its drivers have taken the past six pole positions there and, considering it has already taken three from four in the 2006 championship, would be a good bet to further extend its Darwin dominance.
The V8 Supercars will take to the track to begin practice on Friday at 1.30 AEST (1.00pm Darwin local time).
HOLDEN MOTORSPORT QUOTEBOOK
Steven Richards (#7 Jack Daniels's Racing Commodore VZ - 4th in points)
"Darwin is definitely a great place to race. The fans come out in huge support of the series and, judging by the sea of red flags up there, it's very much a Holden town up north. Our cars have traditionally performed well up there in the past so we expect to go back there and be right up the front from the start.
"We were second in 2004 and slipped off on some oil in the first race last year. While that wasn't a good situation, our pace carried us back to finish fourth in the last race, so our cars are genuinely quick at Hidden Valley."
Mark Skaife (#2 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ - 9thin points)
"I tend to put a strong emphasis on qualifying well - it's a very important part of the weekend both in terms of your physical track position and the mental boost you get from knowing your car is the quickest out there. "I feel confident that we know enough about this car and the tracks we visit to get a good result on any given weekend. We scrambled all weekend at Winton and only just missed the podium, so that bodes well for us."
Cameron McConville (#50 Supercheap Auto Racing Commodore VZ - 13th in
"Having come from Winton, the heat will be a real culture shock heading up to Darwin for this round of the series. It really does take its toll on you, but hopefully it can be the weekend where we have a turn-around in luck.
"So far this year we simply haven't had any at all and our team has worked hard all year. It's about time they got some form of reward, other than another crashed car to fix repair or some other form of drama to deal with."
Jason Richards (#3 SEW-Eurodrive/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ - 14th in
"We just have to hit our potential and we will be able to win on our own merits and not having to start on the reverse grid. We certainly are thinking we're in line to meet some of our KPIs, which includes winning rounds this year. We should certainly be able to take a round win given the performance we've had. It's just about making all the moons line up so we can achieve the result."