With the return of sprint racing at this weekends Phillip Island 300, IRWIN Racings Lee Holdsworth expects the races at the Island to be more aggressive than what weve become accustomed to.
After four years as lead-in event to the Bathurst 1000, Phillip Island lost the right to stage the V8 Supercars 500 kilometre race and will stage two shorter races instead.
In the longer endurance format, drivers tended to sit back, look after their tyres and wait for their opportunity to overtake; the significantly shorter 32 and 45 lap races mean that drivers will be more hungry to make the pass sooner rather than later.
Holdsworth believes everyone will go harder and be more aggressive given there are less lap opportunities to improve on-track position and less need to preserve tyre life.
With poor weather forecast over the weekend, adding another element to the event, Holdsworth is aiming to again feature in the top five and perhaps even make one of the steps of the podium.
The V8 Supercars hit the track this Friday for practice followed by qualifying and a 140 kilometre race on Saturday and qualifying and a 200 kilometre race on Sunday.
What IRWIN Racings Lee Holdsworth had to say:
On how he is approaching Phillip Island as a sprint round instead of a endurance event
I dont think it will change things too much in relation to how we approach the round, we always go there to set the car up to be as quick as possible and for it to hang on to its tyre life as well. Obviously we'll be going harder and be more aggressive because there are less laps to make passing opportunities to try and win the race. I love the Phillips Island circuit, the races will be awesome to watch, it's such a high speed circuit you can get a tow on the guys in front of you so its hard to pull a gap which makes the racing closer.
On why he has struggled at Phillip Island these last few years
The GRM Holden always struggled on high speed circuits, apart from Bathurst. The car got a lot of understeer on those long flowing corners, particularly on the green tyres, it was always difficult. I dont expect to have that same problem this year. I know the IRWIN car and the other SBR cars were quick at Phillip Island the last few years, so I hope weve maintained that speed. Based on my experience with the IRWIN Tools car so far this year I think well be right.
On his goals for this weekends V8 Supercars races at Phillip Island?
Im going to Phillip Island focussing on the top five, but to be honest I just want to continue improving. I'd love to have my best qualifying results and my best race results for the season so far which would mean standing on the podium so I guess Id really like to finish with a podium. Put it this way, the sights are on the top five first and foremost and I want to continue my solid run in the championship.
On his season so far (Lee is fifth in the championship)
At the start of the year my plan was to keep out of trouble, get some solid points and finish top 10 in every race, so Im ticking boxes. The positive signs are that Im feeling really good about everything, the IRWIN Tools Ford is getting stronger and stronger and every time I drive it I am learning what it wants and am starting to feel very comfortable behind the wheel. In the next couple of rounds I expect everything to click, we saw that in Perth last weekend. I had my best race and qualifying results, I keep improving and that's all I can ask for. Qualifying is the big thing, I got on top of that in Perth. I know I have the race pace, if I start a bit higher up I have a good chance to get more top fives, podiums and possibly wins.
What IRWIN Racings engineer Brad Wischusen had to say:
Phillip Island is the first Grand Prix circuit weve been to since the Formula One event at the start of the season, theres a lot of high loaded corners, its a very open track and the track changes a lot over the weekend because of the wind. Its a high grip circuit that required good car aerodynamics and the wind affects this. We look back at what we did at the Grand Prix in terms of set-up but its quite different to the other tracks weve been to this year so far.
2012 V8 Supercars Championship after nine of 29 races
1. Jamie Whincup 1095 points
2. Will Davison 1066
3. Mark Winterbottom 935
4. Craig Lowndes 779
5. Lee Holdsworth 737
6. Shane van Gisbergen 695
7. Fabian Coulthard 694
8. Tim Slade 681
9. Garth Tander 618
10. Rick Kelly 571
LEE HOLDSWORTH CAREER STATISTICS
Event Starts: 94
Race Starts: 206
Best Finish: 1st Race 23, Oran Park 2007 & Race 26, Sydney Olympic Park 2010
Best Qualifying: Pole Race 11, Townsville 2009 & Race 26, Sydney Olympic park, 2010
2011 Championship Position: Eighth
Current 2012 Championship Position: Fifth
Phillip Island 2011
2011 Qualifying: 16th
2011 Race: 12th
Best Phillip Island Qualifying Result: Sixth, Race 21, 2009
Best Phillip Island Race Result: Fifth, Race 17, 2008
PHILLIP ISLAND DETAILS:
Circuit: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Location: Phillip Island, Victoria
Circuit Length: 4.445 kilometres
Friday: 2 x 30min & 2 x 20min practice sessions
Saturday: 1 x 30min practice, 1 x 20min qualifying & 1 x 32 lap race
Sunday: 1 x 30min practice, 1 x 20min qualifying & 1 x 45 lap race
Tyres: Hard tyres
Note: the 2011 race was a 500km endurance event
2011 Qualifying Pole Winner: Will Davison/Luke Youlden
2011 Race Winner: Mark Skaife/Craig Lowndes
The times below are AEST
Friday, May 18:
Practice 0: 11.40am 12.10pm (Co-drivers only)
Practice 1: 1.10pm 1.40pm (Lower 50% of grid only)
Practice 2: 2.20pm 2.40pm (All)
Practice 3: 2.55pm 3.15pm (All)
Saturday, May 19:
Practice 4: 10.10am 10.40am
Qualifying Race 10: 1.25pm 1.45pm
Race 10: 4.05pm 5.15pm (32 laps/140km)
Sunday, May 20:
Practice 5: 10.05am 10.35am
Qualifying Race 11: 1.00pm 1.20pm
Race 11: 3.40pm 5.15pm (45 laps/200km)
Times subject to amendment, please check local guides:
Seven Network & 7Mate
Saturday, May 19:
12.00pm 3.30pm Qualifying & Race 10 (Perth) 7Mate
1.30pm 5.00pm Qualifying & Race 10 (Adelaide) 7Mate
2.00pm 5.30pm Qualifying & Race 10 (Sydney, Brisbane) Channel 7
2.00pm 5.30pm Qualifying & Race 10 (Melbourne) 7Mate
Sunday, May 20:
12.00pm 3.30pm Qualifying & Race 11 (Perth) 7Mate
1.30pm 5.00pm Qualifying & Race 11 (Adelaide) 7Mate
2.00pm 5.30pm Qualifying & Race 11 (Sydney, Brisbane) Channel 7
2.00pm 5.30pm Qualifying & Race 11 (Melbourne) 7Mate
A one hour highlights package of each race is broadcast in each market late on Saturday and Sunday, check times and stations for details