Bathurst’s the one towin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport - Craig Lown­des V8 Su­per­car cham­pion

BATHURST throws up all sorts of un­cer­tain­ties. But one thing is for sure. It’s go­ing to be a slightly slower race this year be­cause teams aren’t al­lowed to have their two main driv­ers in the same car.

That should also mean lower fuel econ­omy which will have an in­flu­ence on race strat­egy such as pit stops and driver changes.

We still don’t have a firm strat­egy on whether Skaifey or I will start the race or on when we have driver changes. But un­less you are com­ing in for a splash and dash I think we will change driv­ers ev­ery time we pit.

Even that could change as we have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the fuel con­sump­tion.

I sup­pose it’s been a whirl­wind few weeks with Phillip Is­land and then the Aus­tralasian Sa­fari, but I feel men­tally and phys­i­cally fit for the chal­lenge ahead.

I think it’s kept my mind oc­cu­pied and fresh.

Skaifey hasn’t had the best prepa­ra­tion hav­ing caught the flu in Mel­bourne last week. But he was still present at our test day last week and he’s feel­ing much bet­ter now.

In fact, he’s fit­ter than he’s ever been. It looks like he’s done some se­ri­ous work since I last saw him.

I think our vic­tory at Phillip Is­land has also given him a mental boost. He’s a lot more com­fort­able with the team and the car now and is right up to speed.

The in­ter­est­ing thing is that if we win, I won’t be able to close the over­all vic­tory tally on him. He’s got five and I’ve got four and we both have eight podi­ums each. Not that it both­ers me. I don’t look at the stats a great deal. That’s for his­tory buffs.

But there is one thing you can learn from the record books: pole po­si­tion isn’t as im­por­tant as peo­ple make out.

Sure it’s great for your con­fi­dence and for the spon­sors to go down in

There is one thing you can learn from the record books: pole po­si­tion isn’t as im­por­tant as peo­ple make out

the his­tory books, but out of 50 Bathurst en­durance races, only 11 win­ners have started from pole.

My last three vic­to­ries with Jamie (Whin­cup) came from the third row of the grid and when I won with Murph in 1996 I was sec­ond on the grid.

I think it’s more im­por­tant to be in the first few rows of the top 10 so you get away cleanly and stay out of trou­ble.

Your first few driv­ing stints in the car are about look­ing af­ter things.

I re­mem­ber rac­ing with Skaifey at Bathurst over 10 years ago and we were lead­ing the race by 40 sec­onds when we had a tyre ex­plode.

It’s im­por­tant while you’re out there do­ing your 30-odd-lap stint to take time to re­lax.

For me, it’s one of those cir­cuits where you get some chances to re­lax when you are com­ing down Con­rod Straight or go­ing up Moun­tain Straight.

All you are do­ing is pulling gears, keep­ing your foot flat on the throt­tle and hold­ing the steer­ing wheel straight.

You teach your­self to re­lax at those points of the cir­cuits.

From about lap 100 you start pre­par­ing to get in a po­si­tion to push for the lead or top three po­si­tions with 30 laps to go.

Al­though it’s a 161-lap en­durance race, it’s ba­si­cally a long drawn-out pre­lude to a 30-lap sprint.

Look af­ter your car and your fuel con­sump­tion dur­ing the race and it will pay div­i­dends.

This is our grand fi­nal. It’s the one we want to win all year.

Ev­ery­thing else takes sec­ond place to this one.

Fly­ing high: Todd and Rick Kelly flew in a F/A-18 Hornet for their Bathurst build-up.

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