Former two-time World Touring Car Cup champion Paul ‘The Rat’ Radisich makes a start this weekend for his second season of NZ V8s championship action at Taupo in the HPM Racing team Ford Falcon (3-5 October).
The first of seven rounds in the 2008/09 BNT V8s Championship season, the HPM Racing team return with Radisich following a number of race victories in last year’s first season together with team and driver.
Following an off-season ground-up rebuild of the #777 HPM Racing team Ford, Radisich completed two-days of testing two-weeks prior to the season start.
“We had a great test and I’ve got a lot of confidence in the car the team have prepared for the season,” said Radisich.
“I learned a lot from last year and that will help greatly when it comes to being front-running competitive in the championship. It’s not something you just show up for and expect to dominate.”
With the season goal of winning the outright championship title, Radisich’s dominance last season was upset by several instances where the bright yellow and black Ford came off second best in panel rubbing skirmishes.
The V8s series is well known for the on-track action and the slightly built Melbourne based Kiwi regularly ousted the competition by muscling for position.
“I guess it comes from years of competition — especially in Europe. If you don’t go for the opportunity, someone will take it from you,” described Radisich of his driving style.
Following a seventh place victory in the recent V8 Supercar enduro at Phillip Island, Radisich returns to the HSV Dealer Team for the Bathurst 1000 the weekend after Taupo.
“That’s the tough bit — going from one to the other, but I’ve always looked forward to the challenge and in some ways it can be that little bit of an edge,” added Radisich.
At 3.5km in length, the Taupo circuit is a far cry from the 1000km Bathurst race the weekend following, and with three races on the weekend programme, it will be a quiet ease-in for the 45-year old.
Following practise on Friday, the now familiar three-heat qualifying on Saturday morning precedes the Fujitsu 200 weekend opening 12 lap race.
Sunday starts with a 16 lap race in the morning and a full-reverse grid 20 lap finale from 3:30pm.
With changeable weather predicted for the Taupo weekend — the often extremes encountered at the higher altitude venue are yet another factor that Radisich will have to work with in his quest for success.