You know there’s a major event in town when you see V8 Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom go head-to-head with Geelong Cats captain Joel Selwood.
‘Frosty’ and his 2016 teammate Cameron Waters met Selwood brothers Joel and Scott in Richmond this morning to compare fitness and training regimes, ahead of this weekend’s Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
The Selwoods are ambassadors for the Melbourne event and are looking forward to their fix of motorsport, appreciating the high level of fitness and concentration required of the drivers.
“They’re great quality guys that are doing a great job,” Joel said of the V8 Supercars drivers.
“I’ve definitely followed them – with Geelong footy club we have a strong affiliation with Ford and we’ve watched the boys go around, I always keep a keen eye on them … I’ve run across a couple of them at the Noosa Triathlon too.
“When we sign up for the teams event and they do it all by themselves you feel a little bit guilty!”
Having trained with the Essendon football club, Winterbottom understands how AFL players prepare for a big game, and believes V8 Supercars drivers are right up there with them as elite athletes.
“They’re built to run into each other and they’ve got very high contact and stuff – we train to be strong and lean and fit, in the car for two hours,” The Bottle-O racer explained.
“You do quite well when you do tests and challenges, which is pretty good because people rate AFL as one of the elite sports.
“In our sport … the perception is you sit down and drive – it’s not that easy!”
Mistakes are incredibly costly in V8 Supercars, Winterbottom explained. Drivers must avoid injury and there really is no way to simulate a race, with testing time limited to three days a year in the category.
“We can’t have a week off, so your training has got to be very specific and unique,” he said.
“We train very similarly to footballers, although they probably do heavier weights, a bit more running.
“They’ve got 14km in a game and we’ve got two hours in a car so it sort of marries up, the length of time you’re competing.
“You’ve got to be strong for two hours – if you have one lapse in our sport, it’s game over. It’s not a dropped footy, or a bad tennis shot or golf shot where you can recover. For us, a mistake normally is a big consequence, so you’ve got to be mentally very strong, as well as physically.”
Winterbottom and his Prodrive teammates, including Waters, went to Thailand for a pre-season training camp to help prepare for this season.
Waters – who is used to short races after contesting and winning the second tier Dunlop Series last year – is still adjusting to spending longer on track.
“Doing the fitness camp over the summer prepared us really well, going over there in hot conditions with high humidity was probably the best preparation we could’ve done other than getting in the car,” he said.
The Prodrive drivers are positive about the year ahead, with Winterbottom determined to defend his title.
The Geelong Cats players were also hopeful of a good season after finishing 2015 10th on the ladder.
Scott Selwood has switched from Perth playing for the West Coast Eagles to the Victorian club and is settling into his new home.
“We’ve had a big pre-season, we started in November and going through now – and we’ve got a big game on Easter Monday against the Hawks, so from here we’ve got a weekend off and then freshen up for the season,” he said.
It will be his first time at Albert Park this weekend.
“Since getting into elite sport you sort of follow what’s going around. Usually after games you find it hard to sleep at night, so you’re usually watching the F1s at one in the morning.
“I’ve just come from Perth and met Daniel Ricciardo a few times, I follow him a little bit. It’s something that definitely grows on you and you have an appreciation for.”
The Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix kicks off on Thursday, with two practice sessions and qualifying that afternoon.