V8 Supercar has invited a host of international guest stars from IndyCar, World Touring Cars and beyond for this weekend's Surfers Paradise event, among them multiple WTCC champion Andy Priaulx, who is teaming up with Craig Lowndes at the Triple Eight team.
Priaulx was the quickest of the guest drivers in today's first practice session.
Q. You've had a good start to this weekend...
Andy Priaulx: Yes. It's been going pretty good. I like the car. It seems to suit my driving style a bit more. These cars are so big and so heavy. They're fast, but they don't like to stop. So, they're really difficult to drive.
I was quickest in the first session right at the end. I haven't been here before and obviously the Indy guys were straight on it because they know the track. I feel very comfortable with the car and ultimately we have to work a little bit more on the setup and hopefully tomorrow we can qualify really strongly and we'll see what happens in the race.
Q. Some drivers are saying this is a bit of fun, but drivers always want to win whenever they get behind the wheel don't they?
AP: When you're with a top team like this, it's not fun – you've got to do your job. I think I'm the only driver here who's supporting a championship driver. Craig [Lowndes] is still in the championship, so I've got a very important job to do.
[Triple Eight boss] Roland Dane launched my touring car career so I feel like I want to do a good job for those guys as well. I'm pleased I'm on the pace – it seems I'm on a similar speed to the regular drivers. Steve Owen drove the car at Philip Island and Bathurst and I'm within a tenth of him, so that's not bad.
Q. The cars are a 1.5 tons when full of fuel. Have you tried a full tank yet?
AP: I did my first full fuel run at Willowbank and yes, it's gonna be strange, wheel locking and all of that. The first few laps are going to be awkward, I'd say.
Depends if we can get it off the line – I'm probably going to end up starting the race, I think all the international drivers will – so it's going to be interesting with us all on the grid.
I hope I'm near the front of the grid and that if there are any stallers, they're behind me. Saying that it could be me! They've got so much power and hardly any grip you can easily spin up and look like an idiot on the grid in loads of tire smoke.
Q. It's quite a narrow track. Are there any obvious passing points?
AP: Turn 2 and maybe Turn 11, but they're not easy passing places. And these races are sprint races – even though they are 300km it'll be '10 tenths' all the way. Last year I did Bathurst and I was in qualifying mode for the whole six or eight hours or whatever. It seems like most endurance races are like that now. The cars are really good fun to drive, but very, very hard.
Q. After this is a jaunt over to Japan for the next WTCC race in Okayama...
AP: Japan's going to be very important for me. I've got come away from there with a strong chance in the championship. I'm second at the moment – I need to come away having reduced the gap to Yvan [Muller]. He's clearly had a strong package this year, but I'm hanging on in there. Okayama could be good for us, it might suit the car and if we can go to Macau with a chance of the title then anything can happen – it's a casino!