HOW THE LEADING DRIVERS ARE SHAPING UP FOR THE 2016 V8 SUPERCARS SEASON
No.1 – Ford FG X Falcon – Prodrive Australia
Best championship result: Winner (2015)
Last season: Winner
It will take some getting used to Winterbottom racing around in the No.1 car but there’s no doubt the career Ford man earned it. Will the Falcon FG X continue to dominate in 2016? Unlikely but there will be no let up from this ferociously-competitive racer.
No. 88 – Holden VF Commodore – Red Bull Racing
Best championship result: Winner (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Last season: 5th
The first time since 2011 he won’t start as reigning champ but still takes the front garage courtesy of a constructors championship win. Brings the best form of any driver into the new season – if the 2015 title was decided on the last three meets, Whincup would still be champ.
No.888 – Holden VF Commodore – Team Vortex
Best championship result: Winner (1996, 1998, 1999)
Last season: 2nd
Against the odds, the smiling assassin returns for another series. Lowndes saddles up for his 20th season and there’s no reason to doubt he won’t be up with the pacesetters again. Took Winterbottom to the line for last year’s championship and always finds a way to compete.
No.55 – Ford FG X Falcon – Rod Nash Racing
Best championship result: 7th (2014)
Last season: 11th
A horror crash at Bathurst ended his season and his bid for a maiden championship but Mostert is expected to be back all guns blazing in 2016. The determined young gun moves to Rod Nash Racing but will continue as one of Ford’s lead drivers.
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN
No.97 – Holden Commodore – Red Bull Racing
Best championship result: 2nd (2014)
Last season: 4th
Enters the season as the best chance for a Kiwi champion since Jim Richards 25 years ago after his move to the expanded Triple Eight garage. Might find his style a little cramped in the same garage as Whincup but will appreciate the engineering upgrade.
No.8 – Volvo S60 – Garry Rogers Motorsport
Best championship result: 5th (2014)
Last season: 8th
The likeable New Zealander has shown his ability to qualify and needs to translate his speed into race wins. Cruel fortune dogged his racing in 2015 but McLaughlin still posted three second places. Should make solid gains alongside new teammate James Moffat.
No.12 – Ford Falcon X – DJR Team Penske
Best championship result: 6th (2013)
Last season: 7th
Completed the always controversial move from a Commodore to a Falcon in the off-season, lured by DJR Team Penske’s largesse. Will certainly improve their fortunes from the unfortunate second coming of Marcos Ambrose but how high is the team’s ceiling?
No.2 – Holden VF Commodore – Holden Racing Team
Best championship result: Winner (2007)
Last season: 6th
Claimed the Enduro Cup in an otherwise disappointing 2015 where three third-place finishes were as good as it got for the former champ. The HRT veteran is hungry to lead a championship campaign for his team almost a decade after his sole series win.
No.22 – Holden VF Commodore – Holden Racing Team
Best championship result: Winner (2010)
Last season: 10th
An unfortunate pit lane accident cruelled his 2015 campaign but a victorious return to the driver’s seat at Surfers Paradise shows this championship winner still has game. Led the series after Clipsal last year and could easily start with another bang.
No.15 – Nissan Altima L33 – Nissan Motorsport
Best championship result: Winner (2006)
Last season: 9th
Still Nissan’s best hope for an unlikely push towards the top ranks of the sport, and four podiums in 2015 show the Altima isn’t far away. A decade on from his dramatic championship win, the younger of the two Kelly brothers has shown his drive and innovation.
No.9 – Holden VF Commodore – Erebus Motorsport
Best championship result: 3rd (2015)
Last season: 3rd
Last year’s surprise championship contender was still in the hunt until the penultimate meet of the season despite being forced out of his Rod Nash drive. The always-opinionated driver signed with Erebus and returns to a Commodore but is unlikely to repeat his breakout 2015.