2015 V8 Supercars Championship | ITM 500 Auckland
Article and Images by Rhys Vandersyde
V8 Supercars | ITM 500 Auckland Preview
The V8 Supercars championship crosses over the ditch for the ITM 500 at Pukekohe Park Raceway just outside of Auckland, New Zealand. With several Kiwi drivers in the championship, home town bragging rights will be just as important as championship points with just three rounds left in the calendar.
Cameron Waters will continue to fill in for the injured Chaz Mostert in the No. 6 Pepsi Max Crew entry in New Zealand.
Meanwhile there has been a flurry of 2016 V8 Supercars driver movement announcements since the start of the Gold Coast 600 weekend. With the 2016 Racing Entitlement Contract (REC’s) entry deadline now passed, V8 Supercars management confirmed there will be 26 cars on the grid for the 2016 season although the exact makeup of the grid is still to be confirmed.
DJR Team Penske has just announced they’ll field two cars in 2016 with Scott Pye and Fabian Coulthard continuing their rotating sponsorship model from this year. Marcus Ambrose has not confirmed his plans for next year but is contracted to the team if he wishes to participate in the 2016 endurance races.
Triple 8 Racing expands to three cars, with Shane Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup filling the Red Bull backed cars, while Craig Lowndes moves to a Caltex backed entry.
Will Davison will leave Erebus Motorsport to move over to the Darrell Lea backed Tekno Autosport’s entry which will be closely aligned with Triple 8 Racing in 2016.
Davison’s move left room for David Reynolds to join Erebus Motorsport from Prodrive Racing Australia with Prodrive having too many options for their third REC. Ash Walsh is expected to continue for a second year at the Erebus.
James Moffat will leave the Nissan factory squad to fill the second seat at Volvo’s Wilson Security Racing alongside Scott McLaughlin. David Wall will leave the Volvo team to focus on his own team and will likely race in the Australian GT Championship.
Moffat’s move leaves a single vacancy at Nissan Motorsport with Michael Caruso, Rick Kelly and Todd Kelly locked in for 2016. Nissan have indicated they will be looking for an up and coming young driver to fill the seat, however commercial backing will be key in any driver decision.
Tim Slade is expected (but yet to be formally announced) to move to Brad Jones Racing to fill the Freightliner Racing seat vacated by Fabian Coulthard. Brad Jones Racing is also yet to formally announce their 2016 plans for their other two cars as negotiations with sponsors and drivers still take place.
Slade’s move was prompted by a lack of confirmed sponsorship for his current Walkinshaw Racing entry, with Supercheap Auto moving their money over to Prodrive Racing Australia. Walkinshaw Racing has confirmed backing for it’s two Holden Racing Team entries of Garth Tander and James Courtney.
Lee Holdsworth will continue on in the third car, but the team is still looking for a permanent backer for the entry.
The fourth REC at Walkinshaw Racing will be the topic of much discussion in the lead up to 2016 with negotiations currently in place to either to lease the REC or to run it for a driver bringing their own backer to the team.
One possible home of the fourth REC is SuperBlack Racing, which had signalled their intentions to run in 2016, however they lost the REC they have been running under in 2015 with to DJR Team Penske expanding to two cars.
Prodrive Racing Australia has confirmed that the team will run a Pepsi Max back entry for Chaz Mostert and a Supercheap Auto backed entry for Mark Winterbottom. However their third entry that was previous home to David Reynolds is up for negotiation, with the team still needing to accommodate SuperBlack Racing.
Cameron Waters (Prodrive Racing’s development driver). Waters is also in line to claim the seat should SuperBlack be able to lease or purchase the REC.
The quietest team during the 2016 silly season reshuffle has been Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport with the team expected to field an unchanged line up with both Nick Percat and Tim Blanchard staying on for another year.
With just three rounds left and 900 points still on offer in the 2015 championship, there is still plenty of time to decide this year’s V8 Supercars Champion.
Mark Winterbottom (Pepsi Max Crew) retains his lead in the championship after a relatively poor performance on the Gold Coast to end up with 2599 points. Craig Lowndes (Red Bull Racing Australia) closed the gap to Winterbottom with 2341 points.
David Reynolds (Bottle-O Racing) moves into the third place in the championship with 2281 points. While Pirtek Enduro Cup Champion Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) has jumped up to fourth with 2141 points after a successful endurance campaign.
V8 Supercars action kicks off tomorrow on Friday with practice, before two sprint races on Saturday and longer pit stop race on Sunday.
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