Drivers' Quoteboard: Castrol Townsville 500 -Driven by TAFE Queensland preview
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars with teams
Mark Winterbottom, Ford Pepsi Max Crew, p1 (Championship):
"Townsville has notoriously been pretty good for us so it is nice to come to a track that we've been strong at previously. After the 1-2 last year, which is quite rare in the big races, we have a lot of confidence. It is a tough track and event overall and the races are longer this year so that adds another element. The allocation of hard tyres for the whole event will be good for us. There is a bit of added incentive with Castrol as naming-rights partner as we are the company's main team and we want to perform for them and their guests.
"Overall it is a high-risk round for the Championship and if you get it wrong you can lose a lot of points. Given we are only a few rounds away from the enduros where there will be big points on offer we need to maintain our lead and keep racking up points."
Craig Lowndes, Red Bull Racing Australia, p2:
"I'm still feeling confident coming into Townsville. The format is going to be more difficult than in the past, but the 250km race on Sunday is always difficult. The two shorter races on Saturday will mean that we're able to push harder as they're more like sprint races.
"I prefer the longer races so I'm looking forward to Sunday. We had a couple of good races in Darwin on the Saturday with the hard tyre, so I'm confident we can get those points back to the lead.
"It's always a great atmosphere up in Townsville. It's always very well received by the whole town and the people, so I'm looking forward to heading back there."
Jamie Whincup, Red Bull Racing Australia, p3:
"We're feeling good coming into Townsville. We've come off the back of a good test day and a good round in Darwin.
"We're really aware that we had a tough run there last year so while we think those demons are behind us we still can't take anything for granted, but we'll stay focused on what we're doing and make sure we put our best foot forward.
"I'm a fan of the new format and changing it up to benefit the Townsville fans so they get to see two shorter races plus an endurance race. It mixes it up, which is a good thing.
"It's almost like a home round for us really. We're the closest team to Townsville so I almost feel like it's a home race for us and I always try and put in my best performance."
Fabian Coulthard, Lockwood Racing, p4:
"We should be OK. I think we improved the car a little bit for sure and there's more improvements to come from the car. We should be right. Hopefully we'll hit the ground running and fine-tune the car from the start.
"Townsville is a track that we've gone pretty well at in the past. It's 85 per cent parkland, so it's purpose built for us, the other bits being public roads, so it's got a good combination of both - permanent facility and street circuit.
"The Townsville event is really good. It's one of those events which it's not a big town so the place embraces it 100 per cent and you see that with the crowd numbers...
"We're just going round by round. It's a team sport, we all have to pull our weight and if we do, we'll get the results."
Scott McLaughlin, Valvoline Racing GRM, p7:
"It is an awesome event and it is very tough on the body with long races. I am looking forward to race on a street track to really experience the limits.
"Our car is very good at street tracks, it was really good on hard tyres at Adelaide earlier this year. I have had some good results on this track in the past as well, so I am looking forward to have a strong race weekend."
David Reynolds, The Bottle-O Racing, p8:
"I thoroughly enjoy going to Townsville. It is going to be harder this year with a longer race on Sunday. Every year we've raced there I've felt the final 200km race was the hardest of the year, so to add another 50 on top is going to be a challenge, though one I am looking forward to. Our previous results have been quite strong - I've had pole before and in 2012 it was only a technical issue that took us out of contention. The results haven't shown how quick we've been at Reid Park so I can't wait to see what we can do, especially with this new setup we've been running lately."
Chaz Mostert, Ford Pepsi Max Crew, p9:
"The Castrol Townsville 500 is a pretty cool event and like Darwin where we've just raced, they really do it well off track. The entertainment is superb and the artists they have playing this year are cool. It's just an awesome event for spectators. Last year we were strong on the soft tyre and pretty good on the hard tyre as that's all we are running this time around. We need more pace from the hard tyre than we did in Darwin and if we can qualify inside the top 10 we are a chance. The longer race distances and pit strategies will make the races settle down to a better level and we can race smarter so I am looking forward to the strategy element coming more into play."
Jason Bright, Team BOC, p10:
"I'm confident we'll be competitive up there. I haven't had a great run up there, one of those events where I haven't managed to get a podium in the last couple of years. Last year we were close, got fourth or fifth in the first race. If we can qualify better I think we're going to have pretty good race pace again.
"The track is great. It's got a little bit of everything. It's a really busy little track, you get that one rest down the main straight but the rest of it is just full on around the back. It's going to be more challenging this year with the extra 50 kays added on and this year we've only got the hard tyre and that will change the race quite a bit. It's going to be another challenge again.
"It's definitely possible to have more good results but it's really hard to get. There are a lot of things across a race weekend that stop that from happening and Darwin was disappointing because we had the pace to finish up there but didn't do it. As long as we've got the pace to do it we just have to make sure the strategy and everything else falls into place so we can do it."
"Townsville is going to be an interesting event, especially with the change of format.
"Just like Adelaide, the first 125km race on Saturday will be important to not only finish well, but to finish with a straight car. Given the time frame the guys have to work with, they'll be no room for any major repairs.
"Qualifying pace has been our downfall in recent times, but it's is out of our control at the moment. Our cars are handling really well, but on the new tyre, we can't get any more out of it.
"If we can get them handling well for qualifying, it will give us a chance for a good result."
Lee Holdsworth, Erebus Motorsport V8, p13:
On his first career ARMOR ALL Pole Position, in Townsville in 2009:
"That was the one that got away.
"Every year since then hasn't been fantastic - I've had plenty of top 10s and a couple of top fives but never managed to get on the podium and always felt that I should've been on there in that first year.
"I've been wanting to claim a podium ever since.''
James Moffat, Norton Hornets, p14:
"It's always a good event. This year is going to be different to previous in terms of format because of the 125km and 250km races. That will be something different for the teams and fans.
"It's no secret that our qualifying speed has been average, especially the last two or three meetings. We've been making it too hard for ourselves. We've had good speed in the races, but we're just coming too far back. "Qualifying usually dictates where you race, and that will be applicable in Saturday's two 125km races.
"The Sunday race will be a bit more open and allow everyone to try something with the strategy."
Will Davison, Erebus Motorsport V8, p15:
"I've had a reasonably good run in Townsville over the years.
"It's always a very enjoyable weekend being a beautiful place and a real dogfight on the streets which we all enjoy.
"I've had some memorable races over the years and I'm really looking forward to extracting the most out of our package this weekend and to see if we can get some good race results
"It's been a tough few events in Perth and Darwin so I really want to bounce back and post some good results.''
Tim Slade, Supercheap Auto Racing, p16:
"I want to be in the top 10 and as close to the front as possible, no matter what time of the year.
"(To do a better job) we just have to make sure we do everything to the best of our ability basically, and make sure our pace is as good as it can be.
"We improved the Commodore for the second race (on Saturday in Darwin), and got up to eighth place, and I thought that we were heading down the right path for better results on Sunday.
"In the 200km race on Sunday, we were heading towards a solid top 10 result, but the pitstop drama put paid to that.
"I'm looking forward to Townsville. I enjoy the track, and the fan-base up there. The people at the track are very supportive, and it has a similar feel to Darwin and Clipsal, where the whole city gets behind it."
Rick Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing, p17:
"We loved the Darwin event, and Townsville is certainly no different.
"I'm quite excited about the format, two 125km races on the Saturday and a 250km race on the Sunday.
"For us the Darwin event was very promising on the Sunday, we made a bit more of an aggressive strategy call on the tyres and it really paid off.
"Leading into Darwin, we had the test day with a lot of things we were wanted to implement for that event, and that showed some very positive signs.
"We had a car that was greatly improved in some of the weaker areas for us, so heading into Townsville our confidence is a lot higher.
"The format should really allow us to get some improved results, the main straight isn't that long, and there are some other sections of the track that should favour us a little more.
"There is only a two week gap in between events, and I can't wait until we head north and get the party started."
Russell Ingall, Repair Management Australia Racing, p18:
"There is no doubt that this track rewards true racers, I believe you have to be very aggressive to drive the track as well.
"Even though it makes for extremely good viewing, there's always a fine line between pushing the limit and then going over it as well.
"We are all on the same tyres this weekend so everyone is on a level playing field but still with street circuits, it's more about setting up the car to ride the curbs properly."
Dale Wood, Team ADVAM/GB Gal, p21:
"I think it's no secret I'm continually getting more and more comfortable and at home in the car, with such little test and practice time it's takes time to learn the car, so I'm sure that will help in getting more consistency in my results.
"I definitely like Townsville, I like the street circuits. I've done three DVS (Dunlop Series) rounds there and finished second last year.
"I love the weather there, that always creates a great atmosphere. The city is great with plenty of night action going on.
"I feel quite confident about the round, I would prefer it was soft tyre round as I believe this helps with racing action. But I was quick in DVS last year so I hope I can build on that for this year."
Jack Perkins, Team JELD-WEN, p22:
"I am looking forward to getting up to Townsville as it's a fun place and the race format should suit us better. We make more out of the longer race distances so I am eager to get going. It is good to have my engineer (Dave) Pato (Paterson) back and we'll try to maximize our positive results and bag some good points. I still hold the lap record there for the Dunlop Series so it is a track I do enjoy and have been successful at so I am confident of a better showing."
Nick Percat, HHA Racing, p23:
"Townsville is another great street circuit we go to and the whole city gets behind it.
"It's a tough event, maybe not quite as hard as the Clipsal 500, but the way the kerbs are, can be hard on the cars and we often see cars snapping the dampers.
"I have always enjoyed this circuit and I am really looking forward to rebounding from Darwin, where the results were not good enough. We have to put our best foot forward and push the HHA Racing Commodore back into the top 10."
Todd Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing, p24:
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the car, Darwin ended a little bit short for us after having a coming together on the right rear corner of the number 7 Jack Daniel's Racing Altima.
"Up to that point the car was quite pacey, in particular on the Sunday.
"There's a little bit of unfinished business there, we'll look to get to Townsville and see how the cars go.
"It's a pretty tough turn around for the team, I've barely got time to have all of my driving suits washed and dried, and in that time they've got to turn the cars around.
"So it's a pretty heavy couple of days for the guys back in the workshop.
"Once the cars arrive in Townsville it should all be pretty smooth sailing, so I'm looking forward to getting on the track and seeing how it goes."
Robert Dahlgren, Valvoline Racing GRM, p25:
"I am very much looking forward to Townsville, it is a street race combined with a permanent race track. I think it will suit the car pretty nicely."