The Holden Racing Team makes the trip to western Sydney this weekend for the ninth event of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship, the Sydney Motor Sport Park 360.
The championship returns the controversial and remodelled venue (formerly known as Eastern Creek International Raceway) for the first time in four years, with a new, two-day, two-race format around the fast, flowing 3.93-kilometre circuit.
All V8 teams did visit the circuit for last year’s official pre-season test, but this weekend’s event will be the first time the venue has hosted a V8 Supercars race since recent developments have been completed.
Included in the developments was an adjustment to the track that removed the right-left approach into turn six resulting in a straight run up to the now left-handed corner, turning it into a prime passing opportunity.
HRT has a tremendous history of success at SMSP, the late, great Peter Brock recording the team’s first ATCC/V8SC round victory in 1994 when he drove his #05 Mobil HRT VP Commodore to the win, beating then Gibson Motorsport driver Mark Skaife.
That run of success continued through the ‘90s and into the 2000s, with Skaife claiming his record 38th championship round victory there in 2007 and Garth Tander following up with a race win the following season.
More recently, Mark Skaife claimed his 38th round win at Sydney Motor Sport Park in 2007 and HRT’s Garth Tander took a race 1 victory at the last event held there in 2008 – Tander understandably excited to be back racing on a permanent circuit in Australia’s biggest city.
“It’s great to be back at Sydney Motor Sport Park – the last time we raced here was in 2008 and since then, the facilities have had a well-deserved major upgrade,” Tander said.
“From what I have seen, the changes to the track will make for better racing and will hopefully assist with creating more passing opportunities.
“I think it’s going to be a refreshing event – the weather is looking good so hopefully the fans will head out and enjoy some close, competitive racing.”
Team-mate, James Courtney was born close by in Penrith and the local hero is also looking forward to getting out on-track in his #22 Holden Commodore Saturday.
“I’m a proud ‘Westie’ and this is my home event, so it will be great to have the support of friends and family,” Courtney said.
“This circuit’s been kind to me in the past and I really enjoy racing here.
“I’m keen to get out on-track to gain a greater understanding of the changes that have been made – it looks like there will be more passing opportunities which is exciting. It will also be interesting to see how some of the re-surfacing has cleaned up the bumps.
“We’re very keen to deliver a strong performance this weekend and put on a good show for our supporters.”
The Sydney Motor Sport Park 360 gets underway on Saturday morning with two practice sessions ahead of qualifying and a 140km (36-lap)race.
The third practice session of the weekend will take place on Sunday morning in the lead-up to the second qualifying run and a longer 220km (56-lap) race that afternoon.
Teams will have use of 16 hard compound and 8 soft compound control tyres with both tyre compounds to be used in each race.
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