Looking to extend Commodore's record Bathurst winning streak to five in succession, Holden's V8 Supercar teams this week completed their final test sessions ahead of next weekend's Bob Jane T-Marts 1000.

Facing a renewed attack from Ford, which has won seven of the first nine rounds this season and is hoping for its first win at Mount Panorama since 1998, six of Holden's teams this week tested at three different circuits in three states in preparation for the big race.

Four Melbourne-based teams - Holden Racing Team, Castrol Perkins Racing, Kmart Racing and Team Brock - took part in a major test at Winton in north-east Victoria on Tuesday, while Sydney's Lansvale Racing Team completed a rain-effected test at Eastern Creek Raceway on Wednesday.

HRT owner Mark Skaife conducted a 500km mini-enduro at Winton with his Sandown 500-winning co-driver Todd Kelly and seven-time Bathurst winner Jim Richards. Following the successful completion of the test, Skaife would not rule out a change to the team's final line-up, saying any driver combination was possible.

"We have all of our drivers cross-entered in both cars, so we don't have to decide until we get to Bathurst," he said of a line-up which also includes dual Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst.

Veteran Larry Perkins said his team's Winton test had gone well, the six-time Bathurst winner confident of another good showing at Mount Panorama.

"Our test went to plan so much that we were even able to pack up and head home early - it was the kind of pre-Bathurst test you hope for," said Perkins, who will co-drive with Steven Richards.

Kmart Racing's Greg Murphy, back in form with a third place finish in the Sandown 500, completed around 100-laps of the tight 3km Winton circuit with co-driver Rick Kelly in their VY Commodore. Murphy is eager to make amends for last year's Bathurst disaster that saw him and then co-driver Todd Kelly given a five-minute penalty for a pit-lane infringement when leading the race.

"Everything seems to be falling into place," a confident Murphy said, "In the two tests we've had since we debuted our new VY Commodore at Oran Park in mid-August, we have been able to improve our package, find more speed and develop a more consistent race car. We've made a lot of progress and it all seems to be coming together at the right time of year."

Surprise Sandown 500 contender Team Dynamik wound up a two-day test session at Mallala Raceway near Adelaide, with Jason Richards using the opportunity to shake down the new VY Commodore he and Simon Wills will debut at Bathurst.

Richards, who went painfully close to winning last month's 500, only to be classified a non-finisher when his car was beached in a sandpit after a passing manoeuvre on Skaife for the lead on the second last lap went wrong, said the new car had lived up to expectations during the test.

"Our new car is a development of what we have learnt since this team came together at the beginning of the year," he reckoned, "We've always had the belief that we could win races this year and we got close at Sandown. It didn't quite end the way we wanted, but we believe our new car will help give us that little bit more. Who knows? Bathurst might be where we break through."

Holden is officially supporting 15 cars in this year's Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst, the tenth round of the 2003 V8 Supercar Series.

 

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