Sydney Telstra 500

Despite the event being just two years old, the Sydney Telstra 500 has quickly become one of the most popular events on the season calendar, and this weekend’s round will be a fitting way to bring down the curtain on another fine season of racing in the V8 Supercars Championship.

And, fittingly, we will see a championship showdown between the year’s two finest drivers: one is an experienced veteran who will be looking to deliver a knockout blow and claim a come-from-behind championship, while the other is an up-and-coming driver who is eager to claim championship success for a second time.

It promises to be a weekend of high drama, and there are plenty of talking points in our final preview article of the year…


The Circuit

Homebush Street Circuit
Date: 2-4 December 2011 Lap Length: 3.450km
Race Lap Record: 1:30.8818, Lee Holdsworth (Holden Commodore VE) – 2009
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Fri 10:35-11:05
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 11:55-12:25
Free Practice Session 3 Fri 13:15-13:45
Free Practice Session 4 Fri 14:55-15:25
Race 1 Qualifying Sat 10:20-10:40
  Race 1 Qualifying (Top-10 Shootout) Sat 11:25-11:55
Race 1 (74 laps, 250km) Sat 15:05-17:15
  Race 2 Qualifying Sun 10:40-11:00
Race 2 (74 laps, 250km) Sun 15:05-17:15
Past Winners: Paul Dumbrell (Ford Falcon FG) 2010 (Race 1)
  James Courtney (Ford Falcon FG) 2010 (Race 2)

Carving its way around the streets that surround the complex that played host to the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney’s Homebush street circuit is a challenging mix or Homebush Street Circuitcorners  and changing track surfaces.

Co-designed by former V8 Supercars champion Mark Skaife, the circuit is a huge challenge for drivers. Its bumps and camber changes are a nightmare to perfect set-ups, and its mixture or different corner types make it difficult to eke out a perfect lap around the circuit.

The track’s front straight will see drivers hit top speeds of 250km/h, while the close concrete walls and high-kerbed chicanes limit lap times to an average speed of just under 140km/h. It’s typically a car breaker (or a car-bender, if you collect the wall), and its past races have seen the highest rate of attrition in comparison to any other venue on the calendar.



A look back at 2010

The second running of the Sydney Telstra 500 proved to be a fitting finale to an exciting championship battle in 2010, which was decided in favour of Dick Johnson Racing driver James Courtney.

It was a weekend full of drama, with a downpour throwing Saturday’s race into chaos as no less than twelve cars slammed into the wall at Turn 5 after their drivers were caught out on the wet track running slick tyres.

Courtney was one of them to hit the concrete, but he limped his car back to the pits, and the desperate work of his mechanics meant that he rejoined the circuit and finished in 15th place to claim the title.

The race win went to Jonathon Webb, who claimed his maiden win and a record of winning from the lowest-ever starting position, 21st place.

Sunday’s race saw GRM Holden driver Lee Holdsworth claim back-to-back pole positions, and after a year of much promise, he finally broke through to claim his maiden V8 Supercars win, but only in the final corners of the last lap!

Stone Brother Ford driver Shane van Gisbergen had looked on course to claim his maiden win, but the Kiwi spluttered to a crawl with a few corners to go when his car ran out of fuel, gifting a thrilled Holdsworth the win.




The Players and Form Guide

The championship battle will finally be decided between Team Vodafone Holden drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes this weekend, with the pair staging an exciting battle all year long.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for the championship combatants. Whincup stole an early lead and looked unassailable, but Lowndes has steadily plugged away, delivering a string of wins in the mid-season to close the gap.

After finishing second at the Bathurst 1000 (a race where Whincup hit trouble), Lowndes briefly claimed the lead, only to be struck by a disastrous weekend at the next round on the Gold Coast, where Whincup stole the march once again.

Whincup currently sits 188 points ahead of Lowndes in the championship race. Lowndes effectively needs to take a ‘win or bust’ approach this weekend, while a finishing place of 22nd or better in Race 1 will be enough to giver Whincup his third championship title.

There’s also a close battle for third place, with Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) leading a tight fight with van Gisbergen and Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team).

This year’s championship has proven to be among the most lop-sided in the championship’s ‘Holden vs Ford’ era, with Holden winning 23 of the 26 races so far this year – this repeats a similar rout Holden enjoyed in 2002, when it won 25 of the 29 races that year.

Street circuits are funny beasts, and there are several drivers in the field who are masters of street circuit environments.

Two to keep an eye on this weekend will be last year’s near-winner, Shane van Gisbergen (Stone Brothers Ford) and Sydney’s front-row specialist, Lee Holdsworth (GRM Holden).

Holdsworth has never qualified off the front row at Homebush, and in his final race with Garry Rogers’ outfit (before he moves to SBR as van Gisbergen’s team-mate), he’ll be desperate to end his long stint with the team on a high.

This weekend will also mark the final championship outing for Paul Dumbrell (Bottle-O Racing Ford) before he heads into retirement. It will be the 29-year-old’s 129th championship round since he made his debut in 1999, and he has claimed two pole positions and one race win. An outspoken character who has often (and unfairly, it should be said) been cast as a rich-boy racer, his absence will be felt next year.


This weekend’s entry list reads as follows:

Team / Entry Driver
1. TOLL Holden Racing Team / Walkinshaw Performance Holden James Courtney
2. TOLL Holden Racing Team / Walkinshaw Performance Holden Garth Tander
3. Wilson Security Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing Ford Tony D’Alberto
4. Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Alex Davison
5. Orrcon Racing / Ford Performance Racing Ford Mark Winterbottom
6. Trading Post Racing / Ford Performance Racing Ford Will Davison
7. Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing Holden Todd Kelly
8. Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bright
9. SP Tools Racing / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Shane van Gisbergen
11. Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing Holden Greg Murphy
12. Westrac Racing / Triple F Racing Ford Dean Fiore
14. Jana Living Racing / Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bargwanna
15. Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing Holden Rick Kelly
16. Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing Holden David Reynolds
17. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing Ford Steven Johnson
18. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing Ford James Moffat
19. Mother Energy Racing Team / Tekno Autosports Ford Jonathon Webb
21. Fair Dunkum Sheds Racing / Britek & Brad Jones Racing Holden Karl Reindler
30. Gulf Western Oil Racing / Lucas Dumbrell Holden Warren Luff
33. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Lee Holdsworth
34. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Michael Caruso
39. SuperCheap Auto Racing / Paul Morris Motorsport Holden Russell Ingall
47. Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Tim Slade
49. VIP Petfoods Racing / Paul Morris Motorsport Holden Steve Owen
55. Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash & FPR Ford Paul Dumbrell
61. Bundaberg Racing / Walkinshaw Performance Holden Fabian Coulthard
88. Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Jamie Whincup
888. Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Craig Lowndes

* Subject to final confirmation

[Images via Fox Sports, Team Vodafone]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.