Thursday, August 10, 2006
WHILE there may no longer be a V8 Supercar Series team based in Sydney, Tasman Motorsport head to Oran Park this weekend as close to a 'home' team as there can be.
Now based in Melbourne, the team called Sydney home during its first season in 2004 having been born out of the Lansvale Racing Team, and used Oran Park as its home test circuit.
A venue that has proven kind to the team and driver Jason Richards over the last few years, Oran Park could just be the best chance so far in 2006 for the Kiwi to snag his first genuine win in a V8 Supercar.
Richards, 30, has special reason for feeling confident heading there this weekend, even after a puzzling event in the last round at Queensland Raceway where his team simply couldn't find any speed.
Richards has had a solid run there in the past. He finished fifth with Team Dynamik in 2003 and was seventh in Tasman's 2004 debut year after qualifying fourth.
But perhaps most notable was his efforts last year. In a car quickly repaired from its roll-over at Queensland Raceway three weeks prior, Richards flew to third fastest in practice, a spot in the Top 10 Shootout and sixth in Race 1.
"Apart from Bathurst, it's my favourite circuit without doubt and has become something of a 'pet' track for us," says Richards, who currently sits 12th in points in the series.
"A win in a round of the V8 Supercar Series is next on the list for me and if our run at Oran Park continues into this weekend, we could be a dark horse among the championship contenders.
"I like the way the circuit flows. There's a lot of medium to high speed corners that suit my style. Coupled with the fact that it has been a test track of Tasman in the past, plus the fact my engineer Wally Storey has a good grasp on the setup, it gives us far more strengths than weaknesses."
Team-mate Andrew Jones says that the added race distance this weekend - 380 kilometres over three races compared to 280 kilometres over two races last year - will also be a major issue for teams to contend with.
"One of the biggest factors this weekend will be the extra 45-odd laps we have to do in the race distances compared to last year," Jones says.
"While there's extra distance to complete, we still have the same allocation of 12 tyres as last year, so tyre life will be critical over the weekend.
"Going through Tasman's record at Oran Park on paper makes for good reading and gives us some extra confidence this weekend.
"Knowledge is one of the biggest things in V8 Supercar racing and no other team has knowledge of Oran Park like Tasman, particularly before Tasman existed and it was the Lansvale privateer team."
The V8 Supercars hit the track for the first time tomorrow with a two-hour practice session prior to qualifying, the top 10 shootout and race one on Saturday. Races two and three will be held on Sunday.
The second race of the weekend will again be a reverse grid event, though it will be the last time that the controversial reverse race format will be used for 2006.