Philip Island: Stone Brothers Racing preview

SBR drivers look forward to 'the unknown' at the Island Round 9, L&H 500, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC Stone Brothers Racing drivers are looking forward to 'the unknown' at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit this weekend, ...

SBR drivers look forward to 'the unknown' at the Island Round 9, L&H 500, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC

Stone Brothers Racing drivers are looking forward to 'the unknown' at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit this weekend, the introduction of a new format at the 2008 L&H 500 certain to provide a challenge for teams and a great spectacle for V8 Supercar fans.

The 500km endurance race takes up residence at Phillip Island this year and the JELD-WEN Motorsport and SP Tools Racing boys believe the addition of separate driver and co-driver qualifying sessions and races prior to the feature race will mix things up.

Add to that a compulsory pit stop in one of Saturday's races and the unknown quantity of tyre wear at the fast and flowing 4.4km circuit, it is clear that strategy will be the key this weekend.

The JELD-WEN Motorsport combination of James Courtney and David Besnard are right behind the changes, both in agreement that punters will be the winners at the L&H 500.

Pitted against some strong driver combinations, the pair is confident that their experience together last year will stand them in good stead for a shot at the podium.

In contrast, SP Tools Racing's Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb are considered underdogs and they are more than happy to play to this tune.

The L&H 500 will mark their first time paired together in an endurance event how ever their similar height and driving style should work to their advantage.

In another positive, Webb is more than comfortable with the SBR crew, his knowledge of the team through his Fujitsu drive making the transition to the number-nine SP Tools Racing Falcon smooth.

The SBR team had its first of two endurance test days last Monday at Queensland Raceway, the JELD-WEN Motorsport and SP Tools Racing Falcons hitting the track in endurance race specifications.

The Gold Coast-based team had a full shakedown of pit stops at the Willowbank circuit including pad changes and fuel stops while the drivers teamed up to run through driver changes.

The SP Tools Racing and JELD-WEN Motorsport Falcons will have their first run on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on Friday with practice at 12:45pm. A full Saturday schedule includes separate driver and co-driver practice and qualifying sessions followed by driver and co-driver races in the afternoon. The 500 km race will take place on Sunday.

James Courtney, JELD-WEN Motorsport

"One of the biggest challenges at Phillip Island is going to be making the tyres last over the distance on such a fast and flowing circuit.

"The L&H 500 is really a step into the unknown; there are a lot of new elements with the separate driver and co-driver qualifying and races and other things such as the restrictors with the fuel stops. It's going to really mix it up which is a good thing for V8 Supercars and for the fans.

"There are some really good driver combinations in the enduros with a lot of teams pairing their two main drivers together. I suppose that could be seen as an advantage but David and I are a great combination; we can mix it with the best."

David Besnard, JELD-WEN Motorsport

"The new format at Phillip Island is a great idea; the co-driver qualifying and race is a good mix up. It will certainly give the punters plenty of v alue for their money and that is what the sport should be all about.

"I believe that James and I are in with a shot. If both of us can do our job with no mistakes and the SBR crew are on it then we can definitely come away with a good result; we proved that last year at Bathurst."

Shane van Gisbergen, SP Tools Racing

"At the endurance races last year I only had one round under my belt so I was really thrown in the deep end.

"I have a full season behind me now so I feel better prepared; I know what to expect and I'm ready to have a go.

"The sprint races that I have done at Phillip Island have been tough on tyres so a long distance race is going to be extremely hard on them. It's going to be all about who has the best strategy and who saves their tyres.

"I'm driving with Jonathon; I've got great confidence in him and I think that the two of us can do a good job; a top five finish would be great.

Jonatho n Webb. SP Tools Racing

"Shane and I are similar in height and our driving styles are pretty close too so we are a very good pairing, neither of us has to compromise ourselves.

"Phillip Island as a long distance race is going to be a little interesting. No one has done big miles around there and the weather can always play a part down there too.

"It's great to be driving in a team that I already know well. I've worked with all the engineers through my Fujitsu drive and the championship cars are very similar to mine so I can jump in and be comfortable right from the start."

-credit: sbr

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , David Besnard , Jonathon Webb , Shane van Gisbergen , Phillip Island