Townsville, North Queensland, Australia
TeamVodafone roll into Townsville with mission to defend lead
TeamVodafone signaled its intentions to crush the competition at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 this weekend by opening its campaign with the Vodafone Titanic Tank race.
Drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes took on Townsville local David French in a heavyweight match, with each tank completing four laps of the city’s Showgrounds.
A large crowd turned out to watch Lowndes and Whincup get the nod over French, who took to the task solo. The TeamVodafone pairing made a quick driver swap mid-race, and despite the vast differences to their regular ride, a TeamVodafone Holden Commodore V8 Supercar, they were able to hold on for victory.
The same camouflage livery that adorned today’s battling tanks will feature on both TeamVodafone racecars this weekend as the driver’s race for results at the fan-favourite event.
Following the weekend, a selection of racecar panels along with both drivers racing suits will be auctioned off in support of GECKOS, the Defence families centre at the local Lavarack Barracks.
Staffed by uniformed personnel, GECKOS provides a valuable and vital service to families of soldiers deployed on operations, on exercise or course or spending long hours away from home.
Lowndes said it was important to support the families of those serving Australia and hoped the auction proceeds would deliver a boost to GECKOS and its hard-working staff.
“While we can’t do anything directly for our deployed soldiers we are able to ensure their families are receiving the support and care that they need,” said Lowndes.
“Townsville and North Queensland in general is an area where many of our service men and women and their families are based so we have chosen to run this limited edition camouflage livery in recognition of their dedication to protecting our country.
“This morning’s tank race was a lot of fun and we’re looking for a great weekend of results up here. Hopefully most of the panels we’re auctioning off will stay straight!” Lowndes continued.
Lowndes looks forward to finishing off the first half of the 2011 V8 Supercar Championship Series on a high note, hoping this year Townsville will yield positive results.
“As this is the last round before our five week break, it’s really important to finish the first half as strongly as we can to give us a fighting chance for the final half of the series.”
“I haven’t always had the best results in Townsville but I’m hoping to turn my luck around this weekend and tighten the gap between Jamie (Whincup) and myself,” he said.
Jamie Whincup is determined to make up for a run of mixed results here last year where he secured both pole positions but could only convert one to a race win.
The car #88 pilot has worked hard to ensure his fitness is at the optimum level ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s 200km races around the tricky street circuit.
“I feel good and I believe I’m physically and mentally prepared, Townsville is one the most physical races of the year so hopefully my Brissie to the Bay 100km slog will help put me in good stead,” Whincup said.
“TeamVodafone went pink at the end of 2009 for the McGrath foundation, we also had the ‘Red Dust’ livery in Darwin of ‘09 and we didn’t boast the best results, but this weekend is an opportunity to turn that around.
“I personally think the cars look amazing and quite intimidating so I’m looking forward to testing the livery out on the track,” the points leader added.
The Sucrogen Townsville 400 will see teams use the hard compound Dunlop tyres for the 200km races with one set of soft tyres allocated to each car for both Saturday and Sunday’s 72-lap races.
TeamVodafone endurance drivers Make Skaife and Andrew Thompson will again be on hand for the weekend, gaining valuable seat time in the Friday practice sessions in preparation for the L&H Phillip Island 500 and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The V8 Supercars kick-off their on-track adventures on Friday July 8 with practice. Saturday will include qualifying, the top ten shootout and Race 14, with qualifying and Race 15 to conclude the event on Sunday.
TeamVodafone’s live race day blog will run from the pit garage during both races with coverage to kick off at 3.30pm (AEST) on Saturday July 9th and from 3.30pm (ACST) on Sunday July 10th.