Why V8 endurance drivers shouldn’t be split

Speedcafe.com

Monday 19th October, 2009 - 3:16pm

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Race start of the 2009 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000

Race start of the 2009 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000

While the on-going bun fight that is the SuperGP on the Gold Coast has grabbed most of the headlines in the past week or so, I couldn’t help but pick up on a post-Bathurst story that has re-emerged.

The issue of V8 Supercar drivers being made to stick to their own cars for the endurance ones isn’t entirely a new one, but seems to have reared its ugly head again.

One question: why?

This year’s Bathurst race was an epic race with a mixture of combinations fighting for the podium positions at the end of the day.

There were ‘double A’ full-time combinations such as winners Garth Tander and Will Davison, full-timers like Jason Bargwanna paired with very much part-time co-drivers like Mark Noske, and even a pair of part-timers in Greg Ritter and David Besnard who, with a different Safety Car result, could have stood on the podium!

And there was a chance that a full-timer with a retired star that has spent more time driving a television microphone in 2009 than in a race car could have snared the big prize.

The race was brilliant, particularly in the final 20 or so laps when the drivers flicked on the ‘Bathurst’ switch and drove in a way we’d love to see them in at every other race of the year.

But it ain’t broke, so don’t muck around with it!

The mix and match of who drives with who has been one of the great pre-event stories we have to tell. Virtually anyone who is a potential race-winning team has now settled on the option of pairing its regular drivers together and copping the championship consequences should the balls not fall their way during the biggest race of the year.

I’ve said it before – I want to see the best blokes in the business going at it for 161 laps over the best course in this corner of the world.

I don’t want to see 25 laps of the regulars driving against one another and then an intermission when the co-drivers step aboard with the missive of simply holding station and keeping the car clean.

Or a situation where a handful of championship regulars are in their cars at the same time that co-drivers are in the others, picking off drivers who simply have been ordered to keep the thing on the island (or Mountain as is the case in October!)

And again, the issue of cost containment plays a part here. Should such a rule be introduced for 2010, it’s a given that gun endurance signings can instantly up their price for Phillip Island and Bathurst, knowing fully well that they can demand it such will be the rush for teams to secure the best guys possible.

Aren’t we constantly talking about ways of saving money or limiting spending in V8 Supercar racing?

Naturally, the biggest and best funded teams will be in a position to offer more cash for credentialed pilots, but what about the mid-pack runners who will rely on paying minimal amounts for a young driver, taking a pay driver or credentialed drivers bringing sponsorship?

It will simply keep, or indeed increase, the gaps between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

We’ve got a good thing.

It’s fine.

Leave it alone.