Whincup to defend Gold Coast 600 title

BATHURST 1000 winner Jamie Whincup can go a long way toward securing the 2012 V8 Supercars drivers championship if he can defend his Gold Coast 600 title this weekend with former Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais.

Whincup said the Frenchman, who had a stint in Formula One after quitting Champ Cars, before spending the past three years driving in the IndyCar series, was an ideal co-driver around the street circuit.

"Sebastien is in good form, he has had experience on the track, which is a great advantage. So all in all, we are fairly confident," Whincup said.

A win at Surfers Paradise would give Team Vodafone a clean sweep of the three endurance races after Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff combined to win at Sandown in September.

Bourdais is one of 28 international drivers from 14 countries (excluding New Zealand) set to take part in the Gold Coast 600.

Among the visitors will be IndyCar series driver Marco Andretti and Englishman Darren Turner who has enjoyed plenty of success in this year's World Endurance Championship.

The list also includes the likes of Finland's Mika Salo who competed in Formula One between 1994 and 2002, his best result being 10th in 1999, and German Nick Heidfield who has also been competing in the endurance series after many years in Formula One.

Salo drove on the Gold Coast last year with Ford's Will Davison, the pair finishing second in race one before a puncture robbed them of a win in race two.

The Finn said he was hopeful of enjoying better luck on the streets of Surfers this time around.

"Will has not had a lot of luck lately despite being really quick so we want to change that. The obvious car speed that he has will help us try and get that win we missed out on last year - it will be great to team up with him again," Salo said.

In what will be his first experience on the Glitter Strip, Heidfield will team up with the man who came so close to a win at Bathurst, David Reynolds.

The young Ford driver said he loved the Gold Coast track and couldn't wait to see what his co-driver could do.

"This is probably one of my favourite races of the year because of the atmosphere," Reynolds said.

"Pairing up with Nick is cool. He's a legend. Formula 1 drivers always have something special about them so it is going to be cool to learn how he talks about the car and uses his background and experience."