WHEN it comes to the 161-lap epic that is the Bathurst 1000, over the last eight years no other team can match the record of Triple Eight Race Engineering.
With Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes as their spearheads, the team won three consecutive Bathurst 1000 crowns for Ford between 2006-2008. Since making the switch to Holden, they have claimed another two.
There have been a handful of podium placings as well and this year the Red Bull backed outfit is favoured to feature once more with two strong entries - Whincup sharing his Commodore with Paul Dumbrell while Lowndes is paired with Steve Richards.
Between them the four have won a formidable 14 Bathurst 1000 crowns.
Red Bull cars also claimed first and fourth in the first leg of the V8 Supercars’ Endurance Cup, Whincup and Dumbrell leading the way with the chequered flag at Sandown.
That effort extended Whincup’s lead in the drivers’ championship and elevated Lowndes from third to second. Yet for all that, there is at least one team that is expected to have Triple Eight under pressure at Mount Panorama.
That outfit is the Holden Racing Team.
It has been Holden’s flagship team which has been the most successful outfit at Bathurst behind Triple Eight over the past eight years, with Garth Tander claiming the chequered flag at Mount Panorama in 2009 and 2011.
At Sandown positions two and three on the podium were filled by HRT cars as well, with James Courtney and Greg Murphy placing second in front of Garth Tander and Warren Luff.
Though not quite as successful as Red Bull so far this season, Whincup acknowledged the threat that HRT pose.
“They’re the factory Holden team, I’ve always had respect for HRT. There are a lot of smart people down there and I expect them to be a serious threat to what we do,” he said.
“They’ve obviously been working very hard, hard work is common practice at our place, so it should be a good battle.”
One of those “smart people” Whincup refers to is HRT team principal Adrian Burgess, a man who made the switch from Red Bull Racing this season.
Luff is also in the HRT camp after being one of Red Bull Racing’s co-drivers in 2013, he and Lowndes claiming the Endurance Cup last year.
While Luff could not be drawn to say whether or not he enjoyed beating Lowndes at Sandown, instead offering: “Any time you’re on the podium you’re happy”, he was wearing a smile.
The pair of Sandown podium finishes has continued a resurgence by HRT and has them confident heading to Bathurst.
“We’ve proven that we are closing the gap, we still feel that we have more work to do, but no one is unbeatable and Jamie will be the first to tell you that. We’re going to the next couple of events as confident as ever,” Tander said.