TeamVodafone will have plenty to celebrate when it hits the streets of Surfers Paradise for this weekend's Nikon Indy 300, but V8 Supercar points leader Jamie Whincup insists that he will not lose his focus at one of the toughest events of the year.
Still enjoying the success of three back-to-back wins at Bathurst, Whincup and team-mate Craig Lowndes head to Surfers Paradise determined to keep the local resident in pole position for the title after the Coffee Club V8 Supercar Challenge, the third street race of 2008.
Despite being a favourite event for almost the entire V8 fraternity, the Indy festival also brings over 10,000 tonnes of concrete with which to crush cars and ambitions alike, and Whincup knows that he cannot afford to let his guard drop for one moment around the 4.47km circuit, with its tight chicanes and high-speed drags.
“I love this event - win, lose or draw, it is always a lot of fun,” he said, “The Gold Coast is booming, people are arriving from interstate and overseas and it creates a fantastic atmosphere."
Whincup, who lives just 15 minutes from the Surfers Paradise track, currently leads the standings on 2316 points, with four rounds remaining, but knows that pursuers such as Mark Winterbottom and Garth Tander has shown simialr front-running form this year and will be looking to close the gap as soon as possible.
“We're going into the event confident following our recent run of results, and a third Bathurst win, and it would certainly be great to keep this momentum going," Whincup admitted, "There will be no change to our plan of attack – this is a tough event, you need to qualify well, get off the line well and lap consistently to score wins.”
A winner at Surfers in 2005, team-mate Lowndes moved into fourth place in the standings after co-driving Whincup to victory at Bathurst, and chalks up his 50th start with TeamVodafone this weekend. While the title remains a distant possibility, the veteran's immediate aim will to become the first repeat winner at Surfers in the V8 series' championship history.
“It's a special round for me, clocking up 50 starts with Triple Eight – we've enjoyed some fantastic results during that time and it would be great to mark the occasion with another strong finish at Indy,” he said, “There's a real party feel to the event, but its important to keep focused on what you're here to do, as any lapse in concentration could be very costly.
“Our preparation has been good, the guys have worked hard to get my car ready for the weekend, and we have a good handle on how to set-up the cars around here.”