It will be a different looking Holden Racing Team at Sandown International Raceway this weekend, with HRT's two VY Commodores displaying a different bonnet livery for Sunday's Betta Electrical 500.

To coincide with Mobil's launch of the new Mobil 1 with SuperSyn synthetic lubricant, the bonnets of the Mark Skaife/Todd Kelly and Jim Richards/Tony Longhurst Commodores have been altered to reflect Mobil's marketing push for the new product. Mobil has enjoyed a long-standing and loyal relationship with HRT, and has been a major sponsor of the team since 1994.

The SuperSyn anti-wear system was developed in Formula One racing, where engines are subjected to extreme stresses, but, whilst new SuperSyn has been proven in motor racing, every day motorists are also able to benefit from its superior anti-wear properties and better engine protection in every day driving. The Mobil 1 difference was a key accredited factor in Skaife and Richard's Bathurst win last year, after debris filled the Holden's radiator intakes, causing the engine temperature to rise alarmingly.

All aspects of a V8 Supercar will be tested at Sandown this weekend, with the return of the 500km/161-lap format in the Betta Electrical 500. The 'traditional' 500 as a warm-up event to the annual 1000km race at Bathurst each October, ceased in 1998, with Larry Perkins and Russell Ingall winning then in appalling conditions in their Commodore.

The Holden Racing Team has won the 500k-enduro twice, with Craig Lowndes and Greg Murphy taking the consecutive chequered flags in 1996 and 1997.

This year, Skaife and Kelly will share duties in the #1 HRT VY Commodore, with the highly experienced Richards and Longhurst piloting the #2 car. The latter pair drove a BMW to victory in 1985, while Richards and Skaife won in a Nissan in 1989.

"The race has a lot of history and, as well as being a good 'tune-up' for Bathurst, it's great race in its own right." Skaife said, "With Todd and I together in HRT's latest-spec Commodore, we stand as good a chance as anyone to win.

"There's no denying it's been a tough year so far as we've worked to develop the VY Commodore with the technical changes brought about by Project Blueprint. However, we're not that far off the pace and I think that, with the full endurance format, well-matched co-drivers, good pit work and team strategy will play as much part in winning as outright speed."

Skaife's partner Todd Kelly scored his maiden V8 Supercar round win at Sandown in 2001 and would love to add his name to the list of past winners of the '500'.

"It might be a 500k enduro, but I can see it being virtually a sprint from the moment the start lights go out," the youngster noted, "The opportunity to partner Mark, whose record in Australian touring cars is fantastic, gives me a great chance of success."

The chances of Richards and Longhurst shouldn't be discounted either. Richards won with Skaife at Bathurst last year and Longhurst with Skaife the year before and the lap times in recent testing indicate that the pair will lose nothing in race pace to the top contenders.

"The good thing for Tony and I about being with HRT is that the level of equipment is the best it can be and, with Mark and Todd's development abilities, Tony and I know we can get in the car and it will on the pace pretty much straight away," Richards admitted.

Longhurst has not raced this year but says his experience will allow him to quickly get up to speed in the #2 car.

"Although Jimmy and I have only had a couple of test days, we've been lucky in that HRT has been able to give us miles in their PR2 rides car at sponsor days a couple of times through the year," he acknowledged, "While it's not a V8 Supercar, it's close enough to assist in getting back up to 'track-speed' as it were, and I was pleased that I felt comfortable and at race pace within a handful of laps. We're hopeful that a couple of 'wise heads' can prevail and, we can be somewhere around the pointy end after 161 laps."

 

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