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Down to business at Bathurst

OK, enough with the fun stuff and facts. It’s business time. And you know how we know? Because J-Dub and Lowndsey are down to their socks, and they call ’em business socks for a reason.

And why exactly are they down to their business socks? Because at 10.20am this morning their Red Bull Racing Australia VF Commodores will roar to life at Mt Panorama for the first time. Yep, it’s Thursday and track-time is finally here as we countdown to the one day of the year that makes Christmas look like a frosty Monday morning after your footy team just blew it in the grand final.

That’s right, it’s here people – the Bathurst 1000 in all its glorious glory, glorifying the most glorious of drivers and all things petrol. In the words of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor – oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

Luckily for us, and you, before the lads got down to business this morning they took a little time out to chat with us and tell all the Red Bull faithful just what they’re planning for the big four days ahead. 

RBRA: J-Dub, you and PD are the reigning champions. You feeling the pressure yet?

J-Dub: Yeah, well, I think we’ve got a little bit of a target on our back but we’re not concerned about that, we’ll go out there and do what we can and we almost feel like the underdog with all the hype around someone else in the garage. Haha. So we’ll just put on our best performance and it all comes down to those last 30 laps.

RBRA: And there just happens to be a championship on the line, too…

J-Dub: With only 1,200 points up for grabs the rest of the year and 300 on the nose this weekend, although this is a standalone race, it has massive championship implications so even if we can’t win this weekend, if we can score a lot of points it’s sure going to help in our championship run.

RBRA: The pit crew always plays a huge part in the outcome of a race. What sort of effect will the extra compulsory stops have on the race?

J-Dub: I’m a big fan of the seven compulsory pit-stops. I’m happy for us to even the field up as best we can and I think the extra pit-stop is the way to do it – everyone is on the same level playing field. And it helps when you have the best crew in pit lane.

RBRA: Lowndesy, this weekend marks your 20th Bathurst assault. Even Russell Ingall reckons that’s a lot of starts!

Lowndesy: Haha. It does make me fell a bit old when you put it that way. But Bathurst is the ultimate race of the year – it’s the longest duration, longest track and obviously the elevation and enormity that comes with the event is quite special. I’ve always said Bathurst victory is far better than a championship and I’d love to win another one, especially on my 20th occasion.

RBRA: The Red Bull cars are obviously quick but there’s been plenty suggesting the Mercs of Erebus could have a chance to show their true potential on the mountain…

Lowndesy: Knowing that Conrod Straight is so long and you’ll potentially be close to 300km an hour, you really want some good straight line speed. We’ve got it, I think, and the Mercedes will certainly. This weekend is definitely going to see where we’re at and obviously Nissan and Mercedes are in for the fight as well. So far as the race goes, we’re expecting big challenges from FPR and a few others, so it’s definitely going to be a tight race and exciting one.

RBRA: You hold the lap record for Bathurst. Can you see it being broken this weekend?

Lowndesy: I don’t think so. It looks like a fairly hot couple of days, which is not so good for lap times, for tyre wear and everything else. It’s something we’ll see how we go, see how the Car of the Future adapts with the track layout of Bathurst, which is a fast flowing nature. There’s been a lot of talk about 310km but if I’m honest, I’ve never gone faster than 296km down the straight. I wouldn’t mind it though!

I just can’t wait to get into the car and roar around this track again. I’m getting pretty excited now just talking about it.

There will be three practice sessions today featuring all lead and co-drivers starting from 10.20am. The second session will run from 1.15pm and the third from 3.35pm.

Casey Stoner will also take to the mountain for the first time in a V8 Supercars, with the first of three Dunlop Series practice sessions starting at 8.50am.