2012 Dick Smith Sandown 500 Preview 2012 Dick Smith Sandown 500 Preview 2012 Dick Smith Sandown 500 Preview

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…


The Circuit

2012 V8 SUPERCARS DICK SMITH SANDOWN 500  
  Sandown Raceway
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.

The circuit's layout promotes plenty of slipstreaming battlesLocated about 25km south-east of Melbourne’s city centre, the circuit is an institution on the Australian motorsport landscape.

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.

Clean driving from the co-drivers will be crucial to getting a good result this weekendThe major factor in play will be how each of the championship contenders’ respective co-drivers cope behind the wheel.

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 Holden Jamie Whincup Paul Dumbrell
2. TOLL / Holden Racing Team Holden Garth Tander Nick Percat
3. HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing Ford Tony D’Alberto Dale Wood
4. Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Lee Holdsworth Craig Baird
5. Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing Ford Mark Winterbottom Steven Richards
6. Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing Ford Will Davison John McIntyre
7. Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing Holden Todd Kelly Tim Blanchard
8. Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bright Andrew Jones
9. SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Shane van Gisbergen Luke Youlden
11. Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing Holden Karl Reindler Daniel Gaunt
12. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing Ford Dean Fiore Matt Halliday
14. Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing Holden Fabian Coulthard David Besnard
15. Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing Holden Rick Kelly David Russell
17. Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing Ford Steven Johnson Allan Simonsen
18. Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing Ford James Moffat Alex Davison
19. Tekno Autosports Holden Jonathon Webb Scott McLaughlin
21. Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing Holden David Wall Chris Pither
22. TOLL / Holden Racing Team Holden James Courtney Cam McConville
30. Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden Taz Douglas Scott Pye
33. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Alexandre Prémat Jack Perkins
34. Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Michael Caruso Greg Ritter
47. Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing Ford Tim Slade Andrew Thompson
49. VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing Ford Steve Owen Paul Morris
51. Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing Holden Greg Murphy Owen Kelly
55. The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash Ford David Reynolds Dean Canto
66. Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing Holden Russell Ingall Christian Klien
91. Tekno Autosports Holden Michael Patrizi Jonny Reid
888. Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing Holden 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!

Check out the ultimate Bathurst 1000 package!

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

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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.
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