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The Mercury Cars Guide : April 18th 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009 Whincup takes on Holden NoFord driver has everwonaround in events held atPukekoheor Hamilton. JamieWhincupis aiming to change that D EFENDING cham- pion Jamie Whin- cup must create his- tory at Hamilton, New Zealand, this weekend or get ready to hand over the V8 supercar series lead to Holden hot-shots Will Davison, Lee Holdsworth or Jason Ri- chards. Holden won all seven rounds at Pukekohe and Hol- den’s Garth Tanger won the Hamilton round in straight sets last year. Under the new format this season, only winners of the individual races will be recog- nised, and the ‘‘round win- ner’’ concept has been scrapped. But the individual race count is just as imposing for Ford fans and drivers. Ford has won just one sin- gle race from the 24 New Zealand races held since 2001. Tasmanian Marcos Am- brose’s victory for Stone Brothers in race one of 2004 at Pukekohe is the Blue Oval’s only success in NZ. That makes Whincup’s chances of leaving the Land of the Long White Cloud with the series lead fairly slim. Whincup enters the Hamil- ton 400 as the championship points leader after amassing a perfect 300-point haul at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in with JAMES BRESNEHAN round one. ‘‘Last year at Hamilton my car was damaged beyond re- pair in qualifying, somymain aim for this weekend is to make the race,’’ Whincup said. ‘‘If we can do that then we have already achieved more than last year.’’ Whincup likes the Hamil- ton layout. ‘‘The few laps I did last year were very enjoyable,’’ he said. ‘‘This is our third race meeting with the new cars, so it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves at Hamilton. ‘‘We’re extremely happy with them and personally I want to prove that Clipsal was no fluke.’’ Toll HRT driver Davison is RIVALS: Jamie Whincup, centre, celebrates his 01 win in Adelaide alongside Holden drivers Will Davison, left and Garth Tander, right. second in the championship after two podium finishes in Adelaide, and two podium results at the non- championship Melbourne grand prix event. ‘‘To finish on the podium in Adelaide and to have the speed to challenge at the front of the field has been terrific so far,’’ Davison said. Davison also had a heavy crash at Hamilton last year. ‘‘As a driver, you really look forward to the challenge of a street circuit,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve already had the Adelaide street circuit, so going into Hamilton I couldn’t be better prepared.’’ Local hero Jason Richards, of Team BOC, will be back on home soil and sits fifth on the Supercar leaderboard. CHALLENGE: Jamie Whincup will need to make history to win at Pukekohe or Hamilton. Last year at Hamilton my car was damaged beyond repair in qualifying, so my main aim for this weekend is to make the race ‘ ‘‘The subtle changes they’ve made to the track will be a big improvement,’’ Richards said. ’ ‘‘We’ve managed to be very competitive so far this year so I’m expecting more of the same on the streets of Hamil- ton.’’ The supercars have one 59-lap race today (5.05pm AEST) and another tomorrow (4.35pm). Ambrose ready to rise in Phoenix Withabrandnewengineandproven track speed, Nascar driverMarcosAmbrose believeshecanpushforatop-10 finish in the SprintCuprace in Arizona this weekend.JamesBresnehanreports In seven races so far this season, Ambrose has twice suffered broken engines, and had to nurse another to the finish line. T The high-revving, 850hp Nascar engines are designed to last only one race. At $100,000 a pop, and with 38 races per season, Nascar racing is an expensive business. While Ambrose sits 28th in the Sprint Cup standings after seven races, if his two engine failures were taken out of the equation the 32-year- old would have an average finishing position of 16.6 — a far better reflection of his pace so far this season. ASMANIAN Marcos Am- brose was running eighth last round in Atlanta when his engine let him down. ‘‘In five out of seven races we’ve had problems, and if we had not, I would be close to or in the top 12 in points,’’ Ambrose said. His Toyota Camry has produced good speed. ‘‘It has been a bittersweet start to the season,’’ Ambrose said. ‘‘We have had a fast car each week and have been able to pass experi- enced guys like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, but we have had two races where we didn’t finish. ‘‘We also had three others where we had substantial problems that hurt our results. ‘‘We have been running so well, but wehave to remember thatweare still a new team. ‘‘We have had a little time to reflect on the reliability issues, and we are getting a handle on everything. It’s just been unfortunate becausewehad a top-five run going at Bristol and the car dropped a cylinder or two and ended up 10th. LAPPING IT UP: Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose (No. 47) edges ahead of a rival at Bristol Motor Speedway. ‘‘We finished at Martinsville with no brakes. Our engine blew up at both Atlanta and Texas. ‘‘It was nice to have a weekend off to reflect and put everything behind us.Nowweare ready for Phoenixand weaimto get the carupnear the front of the field.’’ The race will be telecast live on Fox Sports 3 at 10am tomorrow. Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au CARSguide —19
April 4th 2009
April 25th 2009