Predicted temperatures topping 30 degrees will have a major effect on this weekend's V8 Supercar's 'Main Event' at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway, according to OzEmail Racing's Brad Jones.

The last round of the 2003 V8 Supercar Championship will be run under a brand new format that has the potential to be punishing on the drivers if the forecasted searing heat engulfs western Sydney.

"The 'Main Event' format has us doing a 150km race on Saturday and a 250km race on Sunday, which will equate to over an hour and then two hours in the car respectively," Jones explained, "If it is as hot as they are predicting on Sunday, the race could well be the toughest we've had all year - maybe ever."

Noted for the huge physical demands they place on drivers, a V8 Supercar's cockpit temperature can reach almost 60 degrees when, outside, it's around 30, making the drivers aware of the need to be at peak fitness levels.

"V8 Supercar racing is an extremely professional sport and every driver in the category spends a lot of time working on their fitness," Jones said, "But, as we saw in Adelaide a few years ago, even the youngest and fittest drivers can fall foul to the extreme heat if conditions are worse than normal."

Jones' refers to a leading young driver in the category who collapsed during the Clipsal 500 when a combination of a minor illness and increased car exhaust fumes prematurely ended his race.

"The smallest crack in the floor pan or fire wall in these cars could easily add five degrees to the cabin temperature or allow more fumes in which, in hot ambient conditions, can be serious," the OzEmail driver confirmed.

"Two hours driving a V8 Supercar around Eastern Creek in 60 degrees will be bloody hard and will be a test for all of us. There could well be some drivers that don't make the distance."

OzEmail team-mate John Bowe, who is considered one of the fittest drivers in the series, says that technology has helped maintain safe conditions for the drivers.

"I've been using a newly designed 'cool vest' this year, which has worked really well for me," the veteran revealed, "It pumps ice cold water through 'veins' in the vest and across my torso to keep me as cool as possible.

"We have proven through the research that the Ford Medical Team have done that it is vital to keep your core body temperature down, or there is a real chance of the body going into shock. Last year, even with a 'cool vest' on, my body temp reached 40 degrees at the Darwin event. If it had gone much higher, it would have started to shut down."

Other precautions that Jones and Bowe will take is an increase in their fluid intake levels from Wednesday before the race, with an ever greater increase by Friday. With drivers losing as much as seven litres of sweat during the race, fluid absorption and replenishment is vital.

 

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