We’re finally into 2016, and that means just 57 days (at the time of writing) until the Clipsal 500. It would be difficult to sum up V8SC 2015 given the amount that happened both on and off track, and as we all eagerly anticipate the start of the new season, I’ve made some bold/unrealistic (delete as appropriate) predictions about what might happen during the course of 2016.
Much improved team performance from Volvo/GRM. There can be no doubt that by having two high calibre drivers on board, Gary Rodgers Motorsport finally have both the car and driver line up needed to lift the team higher the up the pit lane. The arrival of James Moffat to partner the impressive Scott McLaughlin should see both Volvo S60’s finishing well within the top ten, both in races and the championship. Bar a poor start to 2015, McLaughlin and GRM have been one of the series’ frontrunners since the Volvo’s debut in 2014 and Moffat, who finished 18th in 2015 certainly has the capability to challenge the talented Kiwi. Difficult seasons in the Nissan aside, Moffat finished 2nd and 3rd in the development series before his switch to the V8SC main game, and a second place finish on the mountain in 2014 further outlines the younger Moffat’s credentials, and anticipation surrounding the Volvo squad.
Will Davison will return to the sharp end of the grid. 2016 will see the biggest reshuffle of the V8SC driver line ups for some time, and one of the most anticipated moves will see Erebus Motorsport driver Davison, move over to Tekno to replace the Triple Eight bound Shane Van Gisbergen. The 33 year old, who has 17 race wins from 333 race starts will head into 2016 looking to have many more visits to the podium than his sparse two years at Erebus which yielded just two podium finishes. Already a proven frontrunner, all eyes will be on the boom which Davison will share with the newly formed Team Vortex , just one garage behind Red Bull as the Triple Eight entries dominate the end of the pit lane. With Davison and Lowndes no doubt set to be frontrunners next season, how long will it take for the stacking controversy to rear its head once again?
Fireworks at Red Bull Racing. I doubt I’ll be alone in predicting that SVG’s balls out approach to racing may well cause tensions to bubble over on occasion at Triple Eight in 2016. Given the quality of car, driver and competitive edge of both Whincup and SVG, you can bet a serious chunk of your pay check that there won’t be much to separate them over the course of a season. Like or loathe them, Van Gisbergen has never been far from controversial moments in 2015, from his botched move on Jason Bright at Sydney Motorsport Park to the championship altering repercussions from his move on Reynolds at Philip Island (you must remember “he’s dead to me?!”), and there surely will be a price to pay if either Whincup or SVG collide with each other. That being said, the final round of the season at Homebush gave us a fantastic taster of what to expect from Whincup and SVG over the course of the coming season, and with Lowndes and Davison surely right there in the mix, Triple Eight and Tekno could find themselves in an almighty dogfight with Prodrive for the championship.
Triple Eight will lock out the top two in the championship with Prodrive taking third, but the order remains up for debate. Ford fans may not entirely appreciate this one, but I’m going with Triple Eight to take back the drivers championship. The strength of the Holden’s (and especially Whincup) coming into the back end of 2015 was confirmed with the six time champion finishing on the podium in every one of the final nine races. A continuation of that form into the start of 2016 will make Red Bull favourites right from the offset. Whilst Prodrive had an incredible start and middle of 2015, their pace appeared to tail off slightly following Bathust as they entered the final leg of the season and combined with a resurgent Triple Eight, PRA will need to start right on the front foot if they are to have a repeat of 2015.
thehairpincorner V8SC predicted championship top five:
- Van Gisbergen
Featured image thanks to www.payce.com.au