After eight rounds of the 2012 season, the V8 Supercars Championship now heads into the business end of the year. This weekend sees the start of the all-important endurance season, where many a championship challenge has been made or destroyed.
Following a dramatic pair of races two weeks ago at Sydney Motorsport Park, defending champion Jamie Whincup leads the championship race by a single point from Mark Winterbottom, and it promises to be another thrilling instalment of tin-top racing once again.
Take a look at our event preview for the Dick Smith Sandown 500…
|2012 V8 SUPERCARS DICK SMITH SANDOWN 500
|Date:||14-16 September 2012|
|Venue:||Sandown Raceway, Melbourne, Victoria|
|Lap Length:||3.104km / 1.928mi|
|Race Lap Record:||1:09.850, Garth Tander (Holden Commodore VE) – 2009|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:15-10:55|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 12:05-12:45|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 14:00-14:40|
|Free Practice Session 4||Sat 09:40-10:20|
|Preliminary Qualifying Session||Sat 11:40-12:00|
|Qualifying Race 1 (20 laps, 62km)||Sat 14:45-15:15|
|Qualifying Race 2 (20 laps, 62km)||Sat 16:30-17:00|
|Sunday Warm-Up||Sun 10:15-10:35|
|Feature Race (161 laps, 500km)||13:35-17:15|
|Past Winners:||Craig Lowndes / Mark Skaife (Holden Commodore VE II)||2011*|
|Craig Lowndes / Mark Skaife (Holden Commodore VE II)||2010*|
|Garth Tander / Will Davison (Holden Commodore VE)||2009*|
|Garth Tander / Mark Skaife (Holden Commodore VE)||2008*|
|Craig Lowndes / Jamie Whincup (Ford Falcon BF)||2007|
|Jason Bright / Mark Winterbottom (Ford Falcon BA)||2006|
|Craig Lowndes / Yvan Muller (Ford Falcon BA)||2005|
|Marcos Ambrose / Greg Ritter (Ford Falcon BA)||2004|
|Mark Skaife / Todd Kelly (Holden Commodore VY)||2003|
* Denotes L&H Phillip Island 500K
After a four-year stint at Phillip Island, Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway plays host to the traditional 500-kilometre race that acts as the curtain-raiser to next month’s iconic Bathurst 1000.
Along with the racing circuit – which staged the very first Sandown 500 back in 1962 – the facility also houses Sandown Racecourse, Melbourne’s second-largest horse-racing facility.
It has played host to more rounds of the Australian Touring Car / V8 Supercars Championship than any other venue. This year’s running will mark the 43rd time that the series has visited this high-speed circuit.
The circuit was first opened in 1962, the track played host to the non-championship Australian Grand Prix on six occasions. In 1964, the venue staged a six-hour international touring car race, which would eventually gain fame as the Sandown 500.
Featuring two long straights, the track is known for its high speeds and great slipstreaming battles, with the best overtaking spots being at the Turn 1 and Turn 9 left-handers, which are the track’s heaviest braking zones.
As it’s built within the confines of the horse-racing facility, its safety barriers are positioned very closely to the margins of the circuit at some points, and circuit run-off is limited. A high-shunt will guarantee a hefty repair bill.
Rewinding to 2011
With last year’s event held at Phillip Island, it served as the the first of the season’s two endurance events, with the lead drivers paired with their Bathurst 1000 co-drivers in a 500-kilometre single-race event.
With the grid make-up decided by two non-points sprint races (where the lead and co-drivers drove in one race apiece, the same as this year), it was the TeamVodafone pairing of Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife who successfully defended their Phillip Island 500 wins from 2010, leading home a team 1-2 ahead of Jamie Whincup and Andrew Thompson.
Their win was assured courtesy of a slow puncture suffered by Stone Brothers Racing pairing Shane van Gisbergen and John McIntyre, as well as a delayed pit stop from Thompson/Whincup.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
While the Whincup-Winterbottom battle is as close as ever, keep an eye out for this pair’s respective team-mates, Will Davison and Craig Lowndes, who could both claim the lead of the Drivers’ Championship at the end of this weekend with a maximum 300 championship points up for grabs.
Winterbottom’s team-mate Davison is just 122 points behind series leader Whincup, while the ever-improving Lowndes is 154 points further behind.
Since 2010, the championship rules have banned teams from pairing their full-time drivers together in the one car, meaning that each lead driver will be partnered by a – usually – less-experienced campaigner.
Forty-three of the 56-driver field are Australian, while the remainder of the grid comprises ten New Zealanders, one Danish driver, an Austrian and a Frenchman. The full entry list is below:
2012 V8 Supercars Dick Smith 500 Entry List:
|Entry / Team||Driver||Co-Driver|
|1.||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||Jamie Whincup||Paul Dumbrell|
|2.||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Nick Percat|
|3.||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Dale Wood|
|4.||Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Craig Baird|
|5.||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Steven Richards|
|6.||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||Will Davison||John McIntyre|
|7.||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||Todd Kelly||Tim Blanchard|
|8.||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright||Andrew Jones|
|9.||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||Shane van Gisbergen||Luke Youlden|
|11.||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing||Karl Reindler||Daniel Gaunt|
|12.||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||Dean Fiore||Matt Halliday|
|14.||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||Fabian Coulthard||David Besnard|
|15.||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||Rick Kelly||David Russell|
|17.||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||Steven Johnson||Allan Simonsen|
|18.||Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing||James Moffat||Alex Davison|
|19.||Tekno Autosports||Jonathon Webb||Scott McLaughlin|
|21.||Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing||David Wall||Chris Pither|
|22.||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Cam McConville|
|30.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Taz Douglas||Scott Pye|
|33.||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alexandre Prémat||Jack Perkins|
|34.||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Greg Ritter|
|47.||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||Tim Slade||Andrew Thompson|
|49.||VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing||Steve Owen||Paul Morris|
|51.||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||Greg Murphy||Owen Kelly|
|55.||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||David Reynolds||Dean Canto|
|66.||Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing||Russell Ingall||Christian Klien|
|91.||Tekno Autosports||Michael Patrizi||Jonny Reid|
|888.||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||Craig Lowndes||Warren Luff|
Another added factor is the qualifying format in play for this weekend. Fans heading to the track on Saturday will be thrilled with one conventional qualifying session, followed by two qualifying ‘sprint’ races.
These races don’t give any championship points, but they will determine the make-up of the grid for Sunday’s 161-lap feature race.
The first race, driven by all of the co-drivers, will have its grid determined by the preceding qualifying session, and the finishing results of this race will then determine the starting order for the second ‘sprint’ race, which is driven by the leading drivers. Their finishing order will determine the starting order for Sunday’s race.
The aim of the game is all about staying out of trouble on Saturday, while going just fast enough to guarantee the best possible starting position for Sunday. With plenty of young gun drivers eager to make a name for themselves, this has all the ingredients for a few tears and headaches for those actually vying for championship glory.
Make sure you visit the RichardsF1.com website throughout the weekend for all the latest news, highlights and gossip from Sandown Raceway!