The 2014 season of racing has begun! The Rolex 24 started my racing year, the brilliant Daytona 500 satisfied the cravings for excitement and now the V8 Supercars are set to begin the year long fight for the championship.
Another big thanks to Racing-Reference for hosting the results and to everyone who has shown interest and given thanks so far. The idea behind this blog is to keep you all updated as to what is happening in the world of V8 Supercars and to help get you familiar with the drivers, teams and the championship in general.
This weekend is one of the series' marque events - the Clipsal 500, run on a shortened version of the Adelaide Grand Prix circuit. A tough way to start the championship, this event has long been a favourite with drivers and fans alike, for the challenging nature of the circuit and the high quality of racing that it creates. There's nothing better than starting the season with a bang and the Clipsal 500 will do exactly that.
The drivers competing in the 2014 season and a brief form guide for the Clipsal 500:
Triple Eight Racing Engineering
Jamie Whincup - #1 Red Bull Racing Holden
Craig Lowndes - #888 Red Bull Racing Holden
One of the strongest team combinations in all of motorsport. Whincup is a 5 time series champion and Lowndes is the winningest driver in series history. Both have won multiple races at the Adelaide circuit and both will have a very strong chances of repeating again this weekend.
Garth Tander - #2 Holden Racing Team Holden
James Courtney - #22 Holden Racing Team Holden
Tim Slade - #47 Supercheap Auto Holden
Nick Percat - #222 Coates Hire Holden
Tander and Courtney are both former series champions and both won races through the 2013 season. Last season saw HRT regain some of it's lost form and come on strong towards the end of the season. Tander is always a threat at Clipsal and Courtney will be determined in his return from injury. Slade and Percat are two relative unknowns. Slade will be making his first start with the team and should be considered a dark horse. A rising star in the sport, his 2013 campaign was hampered by reliability problems in the new Mercedes-Benz entry. Percat makes his full-time debut in the series after successful campaigns in the second-tier Development Series. He has a reputation for being fast but prone to mistakes, but he has the support to learn and hone his skills as a driver.
Lee Holdsworth - #4 West Mead Children's Hospital Mercedes-Benz
Will Davison - #9 Beko Home Appliances Mercedes-Benz
Heading into the teams second V8 Supercar season, Erebus Motorsport have set the goal of being regular top-ten contenders. A 4th by Holdsworth was the teams best finish last year, but the suffered considerable setbacks whilst developing the new Mercedes-Benz V8 Supercar. The team has the right personnel and the drivers are not short on talent, but the big question will be finding consistent speed in the car. There is a great deal of potential here, but it is yet to be fully realized.
Ford Performance Racing
Mark Winterbottom - #5 Pepsi Max Ford
Chaz Mostert - #6 Pepsi Max Ford
Jack Perkins - #18 Jeld-Wen Ford
David Reynolds - #55 Bottle-O Ford
The factory Ford team has been the biggest threat to Triple Eight and presents a very strong driver lineup for 2014. Mark Winterbottom is a strong team leader and winning the 2013 Bathurst 1000 was a significant moment in his career. One of last years rookie sensations, Chaz Mostert steps up to car #6 and will be eager to come out of the box strong. Very good under pace and calm under pressure, his win last year shows that he is the real deal. Jack Perkins as a full time driver for the first time since 2009. He was rushed into the top series last time out, but strong results in the Development Series have earned him another shot at the big league. Driving with FPR, he should be aiming for consistent top-10 results. Dave Reynolds broke through for his first win in 2013, which saw him mature considerably as a driver. 2014 has the potential to be a breakout season for the driver of car #55, with the possibility of multiple race wins.
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Nissan
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Nissan
Michael Caruso - #36 Norton 360 Nissan
James Moffat - #360 Norton 360 Nissan
The Nissan lineup remains unchanged from their debut season, which will be important for the continued development of the new car. Whilst stronger overall than fellow newcomers Mercedes-Benz, the Nissan motors were reported to be down on power and the car suffered from poor aerodynamics, hurting the team at the faster tracks. All four drivers are V8 Supercar race winners and with the teething problems of 2013 apparently rectified, the Nissan Motorsport team will be determined in their hunt for consistent podiums and race wins.
Brad Jones Racing
Jason Bright - #8 BOC Holden
Fabian Coulthard - #14 Lockwood Holden
Dale Wood - #21 Advam Holden
BJR had a breakthrough 2013 season, Bright and Coulthard sharing in 5 victories. Both drivers should be able to continue their form into 2014 season, although the rest of the field did seem to catch up to them later in the year. Both drivers are fast and more wins are certainly achievable. Dale Wood returns to the main game for the first time since 2009. After running a part-time schedule that year, he stepped back into the Development Series, winning the 2013 championship. His goals for 2013 should be steady growth and consistency but as last years rookie class showed, anything is possible.
Dick Johnson Racing
Scott Pye - #16 Wilson Security Ford
David Wall - #17 Wilson Security Ford
The DJR team receives technical support from FPR, but doesn't quite have the budget to match the development potential of the factory team. Sponsors Wilson Security have increased their backing since joining the team in 2013, bringing preferred driver David Wall with them. Pye won races during his 2012 Development Series campaign, but his main game debut saw flashes of speed matched with equal amounts of mistakes and bad luck. Will need to improve on his consistency before becoming a podium shot. Much the same can be said about Wall, who has won championships in the Australian GT Championship, but is yet to see it all come together in V8 Supercars.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport
Russell Ingall - #23 Repair Management Australia Holden
A former series champ with the nickname "The Enforcer", Russell Ingall is a fierce a competitor as any other in the field. However, he hasn't scored a race win since winning the title in 2005 and podiums have been few and far between. Ingall remains a determined campaigner and this season steps into a Triple Eight built Commodore with LDM, which could see an improvement in results if the team can maintain it's level of support throughout the whole season.
Volvo Polestar Racing
Scott McLaughlin - #33 Valvoline Volvo
Robert Dahlgren - #34 Valvoline Volvo
McLughlin was one of the standout performers of 2013, scoring two wins in his rookie season. Instantly on the pace in these notoriously difficult cars, the young driver is being touted as a future champion and his driving last year shows that as being not an unreasonable claim. Dahlgren makes his series debut with little experience in this type of car, but has been a factory Volvo Polestar driver 10 years and enters the series as a preferred driver for the Swedish manufacturer. Development of the new Volvo will be critical to the success of these two drivers. The team will need to find both speed and reliability before focusing on results and if the form of last years two manufacturers is anything to go by, it could be tough going for the Volvo drivers.
Shane van Gisbergen - #97 VIP Petfoods Holden
van Gisbergen is one of the fastest drivers in the V8 Supercar season and 2013 saw two wins, nine podiums and four pole positions for the driver of car #97. The Tekno Autosports team scales back to a single car, but maintains connections with Triple Eight, providing the quick Kiwi with some of the best equipment in the field. Winning both pole positions and the second race at last years Clipsal 500, as well as the final race of the season, van Gisbergen has every chance of repeating again this year.
The Clipsal 500 will be run with two 125km races on Saturday and a single 250km event on the Sunday. Each race is treated as an individual event, with a separate qualifying session for each race. Adelaide has always been a hard weekend to predict, due to the nature of the circuit and being the first race of the season, but one thing that history does tell us, is that there is no better way to start off the year.
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