Re-signed Richards leads Dodo Racing to Tasmanian round With the ink on his new contract with Tasman Motorsport for 2006 still drying, Kiwi ace Jason Richards is returning his focus to stepping into the cockpit of his Dodo Commodore...
Re-signed Richards leads Dodo Racing to Tasmanian round
With the ink on his new contract with Tasman Motorsport for 2006 still drying, Kiwi ace Jason Richards is returning his focus to stepping into the cockpit of his Dodo Commodore in this weekend's Ferodo Triple Challenge at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.
The Bathurst 1000 runner-up has stayed loyal to the Holden-supported team and is heading back to Tasmania for just his second-ever start on the 2.4- kilometre layout outside Launceston.
"The building blocks that have been put in place bode for great things in the future for Tasman Motorsport and the results at this year's endurance races show that we are well on target with what we want to achieve," said Richards this week.
"Stability is important in our sport and that's one of the driving reasons why I wanted to stay with the team. I have a great relationship with the crew and they have all worked very hard to move us up the grid.
"I'm pleased to enter my third season with Tasman Motorsport and continue to build on what we've already achieved in such a short space of time.
"In terms of this weekend, I've only been to Symmons Plains once for last year's return to Tasmania of the V8 Supercars.
"The hairpin is pretty cool - you can be a NASCAR driver for about two seconds of the lap! All year we have been flat out developing the cars and the engines, which are being done in-house this year.
"Symmons Plains and its long straights give us a good opportunity to compare performance, particularly in the engine department."
Teammate Jamie Whincup is fresh from a ninth-place on the streets of the Gold Coast and continues on his charge towards finishing in the top 10 in the championship.
"I've never seen Symmons Plains in my life but at least there's not many corners to learn!" said Whincup, who sits 13th in the championship.
"From the information I've got it shouldn't take me too long to find the groove. I've been studying a few videos from last year's event to get a general idea of it all.
"That's enough to give me a pretty good idea of what to expect. Of course we also have Jason's data from last year as well to look back on. "Finishing in the top 10 in the series is definitely a realistic goal. I need to have good runs this weekend and at Phillip Island to keep up there and in contention. If I could end the year in the top 10 it would round off a fantastic year for the team."
Dodo Racing's Chief Engineer Wally Storey is highly experienced in the art of making a V8 Supercar fast. He views drivability and braking as the two crucial areas of performance for this weekend's round.
"You have to keep the right rear tyre alive at Symmons Plains and that's where the compromise of your setup comes in," said Storey this week from the team's workshop in Melbourne.
"To look after the tyre the driver needs to be careful with their throttle application. We sprung the car a bit stiff in its setup last year to accommodate what I expected to be increased grip in the areas of the circuit that had been re-surfaced.
"I think the trick to the whole place is getting into and out of the hairpin quickly - we've done a bit of work in that area.
"We have more power than we had last year too. Every track we've been to this year we've had a substantial increase in speeds on the straights over last year. At Indy, for example, we were 5km/h faster at the end of each straight than last year."
Richards qualified a lowly 24th last year and struggled to make much of an impression over the course of the three races. However this year, with improved engines and chassis, the team is confident it can again penetrate the Top 10 and earn another Shootout berth.
The Symmons Plains event will begin with a two-hour practice session on Friday before qualifying, the Top 10 Shootout and a 42-lap race (100- kilometres) are run on Saturday. Sunday will see two further 42-lap races held to complete the round.
Network Ten will telecast the Ferodo Triple Challenge on Saturday November 12 from 3.30 to 5.00pm and on Sunday November 13 from 2.30 to 5.00pm.