MOUN­TAIN MEN

COURT­NEY AND WHIN­CUP ARE PRIMED FOR BAT­TLE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

ABUNCH of 20-some­things are out to re­claim The Moun­tain on Sun­day af­ter­noon. Ri­vals James Court­ney and Jamie Whin­cup head the con­tenders who aim to un­seat pre-race favourites and V8 Su­per­car vet­er­ans Craig Lown­des and Mark Skaife in the 2010 run­ning of the Bathurst 1000.

Last year’s win­ner, Garth Tan­der of the Holden Rac­ing Team, is also in their sights.

‘‘They’ve won it— they should give some­one else a shot,’’ laughs pointscore leader James Court­ney, only half-jok­ing.

He wants to win for the first time and Whin­cup wants to do it with­out Lown­des for the first time, while Ford Per­for­mance R a c i n g ’ s Mark Win­ter­bot­tom wants to snap his un­lucky run af­ter show­ing plenty of pace at Mount Panorama in pre­vi­ous years.

‘‘If I had to make a pick (which I don’t), it would be Jamie Whin­cup and Steve Owen for TeamVoda­fone. They are sim­ply the best team bar none,’’ tour­ing car vet­eran John Bowe says.

The big change this year is split­ting driv­ers from the ‘‘main game’’, po­ten­tially dou­bling the num­ber of fast cars at the front but also putting more pres­sure on co-driv­ers with­out reg­u­lar V8 Su­per­car race time.

Court­ney be­lieves War­ren Luff gives him a win­ning ad­van­tage, Steve Owen also did the job for Whin­cup at Phillip Is­land un­til car trou­ble, and Luke Youlden is solid with Win­ter­bot­tom.

‘‘I reckon my man Wazza can do the job. I feel a lot more con­fi­dent than I did this time last year,’’ Court­ney says.

‘‘We’re go­ing into the biggest race of the year and we need to drive as quickly as we did at Phillip Is­land be­cause we want a solid re­sult.’’

Bowe knows what it takes to win Bathurst as a two-time cham­pion and has his own slant on the ac­tion: ‘‘This is the race ev­ery­one would sell their mother to win, but who can do it this time? I reckon the win­ner will come from the usual sus­pects and the co­driver’s role has now be­come so much more im­por­tant, with one reg­u­lar and one part-time driver, and it was the co-driv­ers who were make-or-break at Phillip Is­land.

‘‘I no­ticed at Phillip Is­land some co­drivers were rac­ing like they were au­di­tion­ing for a job. They will be do­ing that at Bathurst at their own peril,’’ he says.

‘‘One mis­take on The Moun­tain and the race is over — ask Mark Win­ter­bot­tom. Bathurst is a fas­ci­nat­ing race, al­ways has been and al­ways will be, but each year the strat­egy and smarts of the guys in the pits have more and more in­flu­ence on the race re­sult.’’

Even Court­ney rates Whin­cup as his tough­est ri­val. ‘‘You can never rule out Whin­cup,’’ he says.

Four on the floor: the Holden Rac­ing Team of Cam McConville, Garth Tan­der, Will Dav­i­son and David Reynolds show off their 20th an­niver­sary liv­ery.

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