The Holden Racing Team will enjoy being on home turf this weekend as the Dick Smith Sandown 500 returns to the V8 Supercars Championship as the traditional endurance lead up to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the first time since 2007.
For the last four years, the pre- Bathurst 500 kilometre endurance event has been held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit but 2012 will see the race return to its traditional home at Sandown Raceway.
All V8 teams participated in the official pre-season test at the 3.1 kilometre circuit earlier in the year and will return this weekend to contest Race 20 of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship.
The Saturday afternoon qualifying races that have previously featured as part of the Phillip Island 500 format will continue this weekend with two 20-lap qualifying races scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
The starting order for the codrivers race will be determined by a 20-minute qualifying session in which either the lead driver or the co-driver is permitted to set the qualifying time. Following that, the co-drivers will compete in the first sprint with the finishing order setting the grid for the second qualifying race.
While the qualifying sprints will not count as race starts or race wins, the finishing order of the second 20-lap dash (contested by the lead drivers) will set the final starting positions for Sunday’s 161-lap Dick Smith Sandown 500.
Despite the fact that the Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander and James Courtney are yet to stand on the top spot of the podium at the Sandown 500, both drivers are approaching the weekend with optimism and determination.
The 2011 Bathurst Championship winning combination of Garth Tander and Nick Percat continues while 2010 V8 Supercars Champion, James Courtney, will suit up alongside the supremely experienced Cam McConville for the second year running.
“It’s great to be back at Sandown for the ‘500 – it’s the traditional lead up to Bathurst and I’m looking forward to racing on home turf this weekend,” Tander said. “A race win has eluded me here at Sandown – we’ve had success at Phillip Island a couple of times in the 500km races but never at this event.”
“Having Nick back with me for these events after our Bathurst win last year is great. He really proved himself then so hopefully our form together will continue and we’ll find ourselves on the podium come Sunday afternoon.”
After enjoying two top 10 results at the last event at the Sydney Motorsport Park, HRT team-mate, James Courtney, is also feeling positive ahead of this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to sharing the car with Cam for the endurance events”, Courtney said.
“He’s fast, consistent and very experienced so it’s great to have him on my side of the garage again this year.”
“I feel confident that we’ll be in for a good result– last year in the sprint event here we finished second so I’m optimistic and looking forward to a great weekend of racing.”
The Dick Smith Sandown 500 gets underway today with Friday practice followed by Saturday’s qualifying races and the 161-lap showdown on Sunday afternoon.