Jamie Whincup set to sizzle in Darwin heat
Melting tyres are one of Jamie Whincup's few concerns as he looks to further apply the blowtorch to his V8 Supercars rivals in Darwin this weekend.
After a relatively slow start to the season, the 30-year-old is feeling more at ease in his Holden Commodore VF and won three of the four races at the last round in Texas.
Whincup now has the chance to extend his championship lead in his chase for a fifth series crown when the 28-driver field battle the Hidden Valley circuit and the Top End winter.
Temperatures of 33C are forecast for the four practice sessions on Friday before sitting around 31C over Saturday and Sunday.
While Whincup handled the searing heat best in the V8 Supercars' United States debut in Austin last month, his team is still concerned about tyre management in Darwin.
"Tyre wear is key and the people who are on top of that benefit most," said Red Bull Racing team principal Adrian Burgess.
"We've got a much better understanding now of both tyre compounds and hopefully that bears fruit again in Darwin."
Teams can only use hard tyres on Saturday in the 60/60 format - a 120km race split into two halves and the second kickstarted with a double file rolling restart after a 15-minute break.
In Sunday's two 100km, 35-lap races hard and soft tyres must be used.
Whincup, who warned of tyres effectively melting in the Darwin sun, has taken the chequered flag in races over three of the last four years at the 2.9km track.
But veteran Russell Ingall is the driver on the verge of an impressive milestone.
The 49-year-old will start his 225th Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercars event in the Northern Territory, drawing him level with John Bowe for the record of most career starts.
Ingall won the inaugural V8 Supercars event at Hidden Valley in 1998 and Bowe will be on hand as he's competing in the Touring Car Masters category in his Ford Mustang.