"We're Here to Race" says Stone Brothers Racing Drivers The V8 Supercar races at this weekend's Foster's Formula One Grand Prix may be non-championship events, but don't tell that to Stone Brothers Racing's David Besnard and Marcos...
"We're Here to Race" says Stone Brothers Racing Drivers
The V8 Supercar races at this weekend's Foster's Formula One Grand Prix may be non-championship events, but don't tell that to Stone Brothers Racing's David Besnard and Marcos Ambrose.
Both Gold Coast-based drivers have made no secret of the fact the 2002 season starts at Melbourne's Albert Park this weekend and that they want trophies packed for the return flight home on Sunday night.
Besnard, driver of the #9 Caltex Havoline Ford, says SBR is confident after a pleasing tyre test on new Dunlop rubber at Queensland Raceway last week and that he and Ambrose will both be "on the limit" from tomorrow's opening practice session.
"Other teams have a talked about nothing being up for grabs this weekend, but we don't see it like that," said Besnard. "We are going to Albert Park to win races this weekend and to create momentum that will carry us through to the opening round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Adelaide in a fortnight and beyond. "Sure we want to learn more about the Dunlop control tyre this weekend, but the only way you do that is by racing as hard as you can. "We have three races this weekend and we intend to do just that race."
Besnard had a couple of top-10 results at the AGP last year in what was his first appearance in the V8 Supercar "big league".
He is no stranger to the Albert Park layout having driven Formula Ford races at the inaugural 1996 event. On that weekend he was put into a barrier in race one by an opponent who was consequently given a large fine.
His team worked overnight to fix the car and he rewarded it with a fantastic drive into third place from the back of the grid claiming the lap record on the way.
Besnard went on to win the national Formula Ford title that season against a field that included fellow Aussie Mark Webber, who will make his Formula One debut for Minardi this weekend.
Ambrose will have a little less pressure on him this weekend than he did last year when he put his #4 Pirtek Falcon on pole for the opening race in a sensational debut performance.
"I managed to grab pole last year after a miracle qualifying session and then I sat on the front row of the grid for the first race beside (Mark) Skaife," said Ambrose.
"I was on new tyres for the very first time and all around me were so many drivers I had looked up to during the early days of my career.
"At the same time, I did not know the driving style of anyone in the field and how they would react in different circumstances.
"12 months on I am so much better prepared for the GP and the rest of the season."
While Besnard will be working hard in his Falcon this weekend, his new teammate will be just as frantic behind a microphone.
Wayne Gardner, who will drive the #36 Caltex Havoline Falcon in selected races this season before joining Besnard for the endurance rounds, will be part of the on-course GPTV commentary team.
Gardner will provide Albert Park fans with some insight on what it is like to drive a V8 Supercar at Albert Park at speeds of up to 250kph.
Gardner is set to make his 2002 debut for Stone Brothers Racing in the opening round of the season at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 15-17.
"There will be a bit of pressure on this weekend, but a different type of pressure," admitted Gardner, who won the 1987 World 500cc Championship.
"Something like GPTV is always fun to do and I guess it will allow me the chance to have a look at some of my opposition from the other side of the fence before we start to race for championship points.
"I was happy with my test in the Caltex Havoline Ford at Queensland Raceway last week and while I am looking forward to this weekend, I am itching for the first championship race to come around."
FACTS & FIGURES AGP V8 SUPERCAR SUPPORT RACES
Race One (10 laps - 53 km) Friday 1 March 3.10pm
Race Two (12 laps -- 463.6 km) Saturday 2 March 2.25pm
Race Three (10 laps - 53 km) Sunday 3 March 10.35am
Circuit: Albert Park - Melbourne
Estimated top speed: 250 km/h - Pit Straight
Estimated average speed: 158 km/h
Channel 9 will be showing V8 Supercar races live as part of their Formula 1 coverage throughout Australia at the weekend.
Saturday: 13.30pm-3.30pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)
Sunday: 10.30am-4.30pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)
* An hour earlier in Queensland Please check your local guides
Network Ten will be providing a thorough coverage of the V8 Supercars and F1 each night in their regular news and Sports Tonight programs Please check your local guides
For all your latest Caltex Havoline Racing news please log on to caltex.com.au or to stonebrothersracing.com.au