Ford's line up of Paul Radisich and Jason Bright are the bookies' favourites to win this weekend's FIA 1000 at Bathurst, the final round of the Australian V8 Supercar series
Former Mondeo and Peugeot BTCC racer Radisich won the most recent event at Sandown, and series insiders point to the recent adoption of a Holden-style undertray on his Falcon AU XR8 as a turning point for the Blue Oval's fortunes. Ford's V8 engine is also considered to be better suited to Bathurst, which includes the 190mph Conrod Straight, while Holden's lead driver Mark Skaife needs to finish the race to be sure of the championship title.
Radisich, who is given odds of 4-1, said: "Am I confident? Yes, and witnessing the scenes at Sandown after winning makes me even more determined to make it another Ford victory. We have a very good team at Shell Helix Racing, and with Jason Bright in the camp there's every reason to believe that we will do well."
Skaife teams up with Craig Lowndes, who will start his last race for the works HRT team after his recent shock decision to leave the team over a wrangle about how much say he has in its running. They are joined on 5-1 by the Garry Rodgers Motorsport Holden of Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna.
Veteran Larry Perkins teams up with former British Formula Ford champion Russell Ingall, the bookies just giving them the edge over Glenn Seton and Neil Crompton's similar Commodore. Seton suffered a high-speed testing crash at Phillip Island six weeks ago and will race with fractured ribs.
Last year's winners Steven Richards and Greg Murphy have only been listed as 8-1 shots in their Commodore, while looking good bets at 12-1 and 25-1 respectively are Mark Larkham and BTCC champion Alain Menu (Ford), and Vauxhall BTCC colleagues Jason Plato and Yvan Muller (works Holden). Independents Cup king Matt Neal, meanwhile, shares a Holden with Australian Super Touring star Paul Morris.
"With Mark Larkham I believe we have a really good chance of qualifying well and winning the race," said Menu. "Mark tells me the new undertray has made the car a lot better."
The race is held over 161 laps of the daunting 3.86-mile Mount Panorama circuit in New South Wales on Sunday, which will take over six hours to complete.
Paul Radisich/Jason Bright, Ford Falcon AU, 4-1 Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife, Holden Commodore VT, 5-1 Garth Tander/Jason Bargwanna, Holden Commodore VT, 5-1 Larry Perkins/Russell Ingall, Holden Commodore VT, 6-1 Glenn Seton/Neil Crompton, Ford Falcon AU, 7-1 Steven Richards/Greg Murphy, Holden Commodore VT, 8-1 Jim Richards/John Bowe, Ford Falcon AU, 12-1 Mark Larkham/Alain Menu, Ford Falcon AU, 12-1 Jason Plato/Yvan Muller, Holden Commodore VT, 25-1
For full Jason Plato Q&A on the challenge of Bathurst, click HERE.
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