Perth: Tasman Motorsport preview

Looking Ahead To Pukekohe Round two on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar holds special significance for Tasman Motorsport. With many of the team's directors and stakeholders hailing from New Zealand, as well as driver ...

Looking Ahead To Pukekohe

Round two on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar holds special significance for Tasman Motorsport. With many of the team's directors and stakeholders hailing from New Zealand, as well as driver Jason Richards and strong Kiwi corporate backing, Pukekohe is definitely a round the team is eagerly awaiting.

Last year the team had quick cars at Pukekohe but no luck, so, with an improved engine development program and 12 months further experience under itstheir belts, the team's Commodores are looking solid.

Tasman welcomes Auto Trader on board this weekend, and areis looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the online specialist vehicle classified magazine and website.

Part of the Trader Group, the leading publisher of specialist classified magazines and websites in New Zealand and Australia, Auto Trader is one of a portfolio of 22 market leading publications that attract close to one million readers every month.FROM one side of the Tasman Sea to to the complete opposite, Tasman Motorsport has made the long haul across the Nullarbor Plain, Tasman Motorsport this weekend heads to Barbagallo Raceway for round three of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

Barbagaello, on the outskirts of Perth, is a tight circuit where superior handling characteristics can outweigh any horsepower deficiencies. The infamous turn 7final corner - turn seven, leading in to the main straight - is the most severe braking corner for braking in the series. A tight circuit where superior handling characteristics can outweigh any horsepower deficiencies, the small circuit on the outskirts of Perth has always proven to be tricky.

Re-surfaced with new bitumen in 2004 that dramatically changed its tyre- eating characteristics, Barbagallo will be a tough round.

Sleepyhead returns to the flanks of the team's Commodores for this weekend, while reverse grid racing will again be featured.

Thankfully, Jason Richards and Andrew Jones were away from the chaos in New Zealand by virtue of being at the front of the field, but the tight nature of Barbagallo will mean that things will be tight.

A single second and a half generally covers the field in qualifying, so getting a fast lap and making the Top 10 Shootout is critical to the weekend being a success.

QUOTEBOOK

Jason Richards (#3 SleepyheadAuto Trader/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ) "We're revved up for this one! How could you not be excited? It's the best chance I've had of taking the Kiwi crown away from Murph! We've been competitive at the Clipsal 500, ultra-competitive at the Grand Prix and last year I was in the Shootout at Pukekohe. Since then, Tasman has made a significant improvement in all areas.

"We know we are more advanced than where we were this time last year but we need to be as all of the good teams take a step up on the previous year. If you look at our results from the last eight race meetings, we've been in the higher echelon of the field. At Pukekohe last year our qualifying result was perhaps a little flattering for where we were in the pecking order at the time, but this year we're up there regularly and on merit. " Last year we had a reasonable car there but my engineer, Wally Storey, didn't make the trip due to an appendix operation. This year we go into it with our engineering department at full strength and we should be better off with what we've learnt since last year with the current model car and engine package.So this year we go into it with our full engineering department strength and we should be better with what we've learnt over the last year with the current model car and engine package.

"The track in Perth - Barbagallo - is tiny at 2.4-kilometres, which means it's the tiny differences that make you places or lose them for you small differences that makes or loses you places. Attention to detail is imperative! We have to maintain our focus on moving forward. The facts are that we have a very fast car, which is proven by our lap record at Adelaide and running third at the Grand Prix meeting.

"This year was the first time in five years that the cars have been flown by airplane to New Zealand, sowhich meant the team had the cars back on the Tuesday after Pukekohe, rather than waiting a week or so for the boat to come back across the Tasman Sea.

"At least they didn't have a damaged car or two to repair, as some other teams had to deal with when they got back to Australia."

"I'll be trying to lift myself for the occasion without putting too much pressure on myself. I arrived in New Zealand on Saturday to do some promotions prior to the event. My schedule and commitments for this race are increasing each year as our performances on the track do the same - that can only be a good thing."

Andrew Jones (#23 Sleepyhead Auto Trader/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ) "As much as we didn't have a brilliant weekend in Pukekohe, it wasn't completely terrible. For Barbagallo, qualifying is again important and it's similar to Pukekohe because of the short lap distance and the tightness of the grid.

"It really means you are going to have to be spot on in terms of what things you want to work on during the two-hour practice session on Friday. With the number of laps you can do limited, you have to clearly define your goals and how you're going to play things. I understand the car a lot more than I was atdid at Adelaide or the Grand Prix. We're moving in the right direction, because . ,At times we've had good pace. But, now we need to find it consistently.

"With the wash updamage from the reverse grid race, I guess it's hard on the teams to turn-around the cars in such a short amount of time. But from my point of view, I want to get to the next round as quickly as possible and keep the ball rolling!

"You can have a strong first race, not such a good second one, and you'll still start at the front for the final race, so the need to go charging through the pack in the reverse grid race isn't as high as it may otherwise seem."

"Last year was my first time at Pukekohe. The support that the championship gets from the Kiwi fans is unbelievable. It makes for a good atmosphere. The track is small but fast - it's not often we go to a track where you are on full throttle for over over 55 percent of the lap distance. That always means that the qualifying speeds and times are very close.

"I'm heading to New Zealand with a native Kiwi as my team-mate, so I'm sure he'll enjoy the weekend even more than most of us! Right now I'm feeling very comfortable with my surroundings and things are clicking within the team.

"The team is very supportive, and that's awesome, but now we just need to get further up the grid. Towards the end of the Adelaide raceweekend we made some good inroads and our speed has been getting better as the race weekends go by. Now we just need to be getting onto it earlier each weekend to give ourselves a fighting chance.

"All drivers drive differently and have different styles and ways of doing things. I'm no different, so I've been going in some different setup directions to Jason and we've found some good success and things that work to suit my style."

-tm

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Series Supercars
Drivers Andrew Jones , Jason Richards