Audio: Lewis and Heikki race for the ‘chequered’ flag

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen today embraced the Aussie surf, sun and sea culture in a beach kayak race, as they prepare for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.   Exchanging the asphalt of Albert Park for

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen today embraced the Aussie "surf, sun and sea" culture in a beach kayak race, as they prepare for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Exchanging the asphalt of Albert Park for the Australian surf, the drivers battled it out against local sporting heroes including Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup (V8 Supercar drivers), Luke Power and Adam Simpson (Australian Football League players).

Hamilton and Kovalainen combined speed and agility with their split second decision making skills to give the bronzed Aussies a run for their money in the surf.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the 2008 Australian Grand Prix represents a decisive moment in the careers of Lewis and Heikki - with both drivers hoping to kick off their second Formula 1 seasons with a podium finish.

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Lewis Hamilton; "It's great to be back in Melbourne again where it all began for me just a year ago. We had a fantastic season last year - but the possibilities are even greater in 2008.

"I am excited about kicking off the season at Albert Park this weekend. It is a challenging circuit but my knowledge has come such a long way since I first raced there last year.

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"Today's beach kayak race was a great way to prepare for this weekend. Throughout the off-season I have been working with a range of experts to hone my skills, so I am in the best position to make crucial decisions during the race," he said.

The beach kayak race was Lewis' first event with his new teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who joined Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for the start of the 2008 season.

Heikki Kovalainen can't wait for his first race under the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes banner, saying his motivation to win is even higher in 2008.

"I believe Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is the best team in Formula 1 - and we have left no stone unturned in terms of preparation for this season.

"I am very excited about being in Australia - but this weekend I will be completely focused. I am determined to start the race well, my goal is to get pole position," he said.

On-track, Vodafone is giving fans the opportunity to get up close to a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car and even take part in a pit stop challenge. The car will be on display in the F1 exhibition area.

Race-goers will also be able to receive real time race information from Vodafone, direct to their mobile phones - including schedules and updates of all the on-track action.

John Casey, Chief Marketing Officer for Vodafone Australia says that Australian motorsport enthusiasts are passionate about having all the race information at their fingertips, as it happens.

"Vodafone will enhance the experience of fans on-track at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix, keeping them up to speed with all the racing news in the moment," said John.

The updates will also include race information for the V8 Supercars, Australian GT, Carrera Cup and Aussie Racing Cars.

Vodafone is the Title Sponsor and Official Mobile Partner of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and is the 2008 Title Sponsor of the Vodafone Australian Grand Prix Celebrity race.

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