Whincup tipped to win Townsville 400
DUE to the fact that he has strung together seven consecutive victories on street circuits, reigning V8 Supercar Champion Jamie Whincup goes into this weekend’s inaugural Townsville 400 as favourite.
The fact that his 888 Vodafone Falcon Team, led by Roland Dane, is arguably the most professional outfit in the championship is also in Whincup’s favour.
The ability of team engineers to give drivers the optimum car set-up for the street circuit will be a huge test for all teams when there is no previous data, as is the case this weekend.
Fortunately the added complications of deciding when to use the soft compound optional tyres is not an issue with the harder compound, more durable tyres being used this weekend for both races.
In the “red corner” the Holden Racing Team is arguably the most professional outfit with their drivers Will Davison and Garth Tander currently second and third in the championship after five of 14 events.
However, in the last race at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, a non-factory team was victorious with Michael Caruso steering his Gary Rogers Motorsport Valvoline Commodore to a well deserved win.
Queensland privateer team Dick Johnson Racing’s Steven Johnson is fourth in the championship following some strong performances.
Another factor in the equation is the expected 30 degree ambient temperature with temperatures inside the cars climbing to 45 energy sapping degrees. With two 72-lap, 200km races to be contested, one today and one tomorrow, driver fitness and stamina will be truly tested.
In the event of the inevitable crashes on street circuits there are very few run-off areas or escape options, with following drivers often left with nowhere to go to avoid the carnage ahead.
Nevertheless, more than 100,000 race fans, including thousands from the Cairns region with many experiencing their first ever V8 Supercar race, will be treated to a great weekend of racing on the Reid Park street circuit.
AUSSIES FEATURE ON WORLD STAGE
SECOND generation Aussie driver David Brabham headed up strong performances by Australians on the international stage in recent weeks.
The 43 year old, who has been racing sports cars in Europe and America for many years and has two class wins for Aston Martin in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, finally claimed outright victory in a Peugeot 908, 16 years after his older brother Geoff also won in a Peugeot.
Brabham, along with team drivers Mark Gene and Alexander Wurz, moved into their race winning lead after six hours, their prototype 5.5 litre V12 diesel engine performing faultlessly for 24 gruelling hours.
The biggest win of Brabham’s chequered career came in the same year as his father Sir Jack’s 50th anniversary of his first Formula 1 win. South Australia’s Vern Schuppan is the only other Aussue to win the Le Mans 24 Hour.
Meanwhile, fellow Australians Mark Webber, Marcus Ambrose, Ryan Briscoe and Jason Crump all stood on the podium.
Webber came from behind in his Red Bull Renault to finish second at Silverstone in the British F1 GP and is fourth in the championship.
Ambrose, after starting 41st due to an engine change, finished an incredible third at Infineon road circuit in the NASCAR Sprint cup and is inside the top 20 in 8th.
Indy Car driver Ryan Briscoe retained his championship lead when he finished second at the Iowa Speedway.
After winning round four of the World Speedway Motorcycle GP, Queensland’s Jason Crump sits atop the championship table, a massive 28 points ahead of 21-yearold sensation Russia’s Emil Sayfutdinov and is on track for his third world title.
Answering questions: Townsville 400 V8 Supercar favourite Jamie Whincup at a press conference earlier this week.