Having missed out on its first Sandown 500 victory by just 0.15 seconds last year, the Toll HSV Dealer Team will be hoping to go one better this weekend as the V8 enduro season kicks off.

Armed with the strongest endurance driver line-up in its history, the series leaders are looking to add the annual endurance classic to a long list of achievements that include two Bathurst wins, a Clipsal 500 and the driver and team championship double in 2006.

Current V8 Supercar Series pace-setters Garth Tander and Rick Kelly, who go into the race separated by just six points at the head of the table, will be joined by experienced Kiwis Paul Radisich and Craig Baird in the four-driver line-up for both Sandown and Bathurst.

Radisich and Baird are primed and ready after joining Tander and Kelly for a two-day test session at Winton Raceway recently.

The pair gives the team unprecedented flexibility in driver pairings for the endurance double, allowing Team Manager Rob Crawford the choice of running Tander and Kelly together or splitting them to run with either Baird or Radisich.

A final decision on the pairings is expected to be confirmed after practice on Friday.

For defending champion Kelly, the 2007 race is an opportunity to go one better than last year when he came the narrowest of second places with brother Todd behind winners Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom.

Driving the final stint, Rick Kelly couldn't quite pass Bright on the run to the chequered flag, resisting the temptation to put his championship on the line with what could have been an injudicious lunge for victory in the final few turns.

Although Kelly has not won at Sandown, he has a remarkable record there. He has finished in the top five every year since the 500km race returned from Queensland Raceway in 2003. In that time, he has been on the podium twice - last year and in 2003.

"This weekend is an exciting one for our team, with the addition of both Craig and Paul," he said. "They are accomplished and respected drivers who I will be able to learn from over the weekend. The speed they showed at our recent test was fantastic and the way they gelled with the team proved that we will be strong at Sandown. Todd and I narrowly missed out on the win there last year, and we hope to go one better this year."

For Tander, the race offers the opportunity to consolidate his championship lead while exorcising the demons of last year's Sandown disaster when he was partnered with Mark Skaife at Holden Racing Team.

Tander seemed set for a big weekend after putting the car on pole and bolting to big lead in the 2006 race, but a mechanical failure when Skaife was driving crippled their chances. After repairs, they got going again and were classified 26th.

Tander will be looking for his third Sandown pole position in succession this year. In fact, the Toll HSV drivers will be looking for their fourth in a row, as Kelly put one of the team's Commodores on pole in the 2004.

"It is a circuit I enjoy and a weekend I look forward to, being the first of the enduros, but it is a race that hasn't figured prominently on my CV yet," he enthused. "I have been on pole position the past couple of years, which is good but not all-important, as it is a 500km race. It helps to start up the front to avoid trouble in the first few laps, but the Sandown weather being what it is, anything can change through the day. We have said all along that if Rick and I split up, we have got two very good back-up drivers. They have done a fantastic job at testing, and their record speaks for itself."

Radisich, who is fully recovered from injuries sustained in a crash at Bathurst last year and follow-up operation on his ankle this year, already has one Sandown win to his credit - a sprint round in 2000. The former World Touring Car Cup winner also has won the 500 - in Queensland with Steven Johnson in 2001. Last year, he came 13th with Fabian Coulthard.

"We had a good test the other week at Winton, and I settled into the car really quickly to put together some good, consistent race runs," he said. "So, I am really looking forward to getting back on the track again. I am rearing to go - no problems at all. This is my best chance of winning in a very, very long time."

Baird finished in the top ten in the Sandown 500 last year, coming a creditable seventh on the lead lap with Jason Bargwanna. He has been maintaining his racing fitness with a heavy racing schedule this year, not only defending his championship titles in Australia's Carrera Cup and the NZ equivalent, but also racing in international endurance events such as the Nurburgring 24 Hour and recent Sepang 12 Hour in Malaysia.

"It is certainly nice to go into a motor race in a team environment that is very capable of winning," he said. "It has been a long time since I have been in a V8 Supercar that is capable of winning a race. It adds a little bit of motivation to be sitting in a car that is prepared by the championship-winning team from last year and also leading 1-2 in the championship this year. I have done a lot of endurance races in the Porsches around the world so I am very ready for it."