Drivers prepare for Konica Minolta finale In less than two weeks the Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series will have new champion - but who this year's eventual winner will be is anyone's call. The 2004 Series has turned out to be one of the ...
Drivers prepare for Konica Minolta finale
In less than two weeks the Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series will have new champion - but who this year's eventual winner will be is anyone's call.
The 2004 Series has turned out to be one of the closest and most dramatic in its history with the top seven drivers all in with a chance of being crowned the Series Champion. Several other drivers are also in with an outside mathematical chance.
A mere 15 points separate the top three drivers of Luke Youlden, Andrew Jones and Owen Kelly and only another 70 points separate Matthew White in fifth position and current Series leader Youlden. There will be 192 points on offer over the event weekend with 64 points available in each of the three races, emphasising the importance of a top three finish for the leading drivers.
All drivers will be going into the sixth and final round of the Series at Mallala Motorsport Park in South Australia on August 21-22 with the expectation that they have a chance to finish the final round on the podium.
Some drivers will be more confident than others having had previous success at the track, in particular second place sitter Jones who had one of his best qualifying performances at the same round last year.
"Mallala was a turning point for me last year and I recorded one of my best qualifying performances of 2003 because I worked well with the team to get the most out of the Team BOC Falcon," Jones said.
"This year that fantastic mix has continued and we will go even faster again at Mallala. I will be racing in the same car as last year, which was faster than a lot of the guys who were at the top of the championship last year."
Current Series leader Luke Youlden will be looking to put his disruptive round at Queensland Raceway behind him and capitalise on the lead he has held on to for the past three rounds. He finished the Queensland round thirteenth overall due to an over heating problem with the Super Cheap Auto Racing's Falcons brakes, and will be looking to secure the top spot despite the fact that Mallala has not been one of his most successful hunting grounds.
"In what can be described as a good omen, I won the 2000 Formula Ford Championship at Mallala after a shocking previous round of the championship, which is quite scary when you consider the bad luck we experienced at Queensland," Youlden said.
"The last two times I raced the Konica Minolta Series at Mallala haven't been so successful unfortunately. I was punted off every single race in the first year and last year we had clutch problems which made the whole weekend extremely difficult."
The Dick Johnson Racing backed Team Fujitsu outfit has shown to be the benchmark team for the majority of the season with impressive performances by experienced V8 Supercar driver Owen Kelly and new recruite Jose Fernandez.
Kelly has managed to finish on the podium on three of the last five occasions and will be looking to capitalise on the momentum which landed him with the round win at the last round at Queensland Raceway although he has encountered mixed results at the South Australian circuit.
"I've only competed at Mallala twice," Kelly said. "In 2001 I finished second and my car wasn't able to finish in 2003. But I don't mind the track, there's plenty of opportunity for overtaking which makes the racing very interesting.
"The best thing about Mallala being the final round is that none of the teams test there so the advantage to one driver over another is reduced. We'll all have to get on top of things early and whoever achieves this will most likely take the round and the Series."