TeamVodafone close to signing enduro drivers

Speedcafe.com

Tuesday 18th January, 2011 - 10:58pm

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Jamie Whincup drove with Steve Owen in last year's endurance races, finishing second at Bathurst behind team-mates Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife

Jamie Whincup drove with Steve Owen in last year's endurance races, finishing second at Bathurst behind team-mates Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife

TeamVodafone is close to finalising its endurance driver line-up for the traditional long distance V8 Supercars races at Phillip Island and Bathurst.

According to team owner Roland Dane, the list of potential drivers to partner either Jamie Whincup or Craig Lowndes is currently as long as 10.

Speedcafe.com.au understands that six-times Bathurst winner Mark Skaife, who drove with Lowndes last year, is likely to return to the team, while Whincup’s 2011 team-mate is less certain.

One driver’s name that has surfaced as a likely candidate is Andrew Thompson. The 23-year-old competed full-time with Walkinshaw Racing last year, enduring a frustrating season, finishing 30th in the V8 Championship.

The team hopes to confirm its endurance line-up as a part of its official launch on January 28, the day prior to Eastern Creek’s pre-season test, but may not do so if contracts have not been signed.

Dane confirmed that Thompson is on his wish-list, among others, but stressed that no deals have been done.

“I haven’t totally finalised the co-drivers yet, so if we can’t, we’ll leave it (the announcement),” Dane told Speedcafe.com.au.

“He (Thompson) is on the list, that’s for sure. We have about eight or 10 people on our list, but I haven’t signed with anyone at the moment.

“There is nothing more to say at the moment because as I say, I haven’t signed anyone.”

Dane said securing his team’s endurance drivers has not been the priority over the past week, instead focussing on the preparations of its Vodafone-backed race cars after some of his team members were hampered by the Queensland floods.

“I have been more interested in making sure my house wasn’t flooded,” he said.

“Now, I’m starting to look more at the drivers, and I’m trying to do it by next week, but to be honest, the priority is getting the cars ready for the test.

“If we can, we’ll launch the cars and all the team’s drivers like we did last year, but we’re not going to be too disturbed if we can’t.”

Whoever does get the opportunity to drive with the champion team in the enduros is also a good chance to compete with the team in the Fujitsu V8 Supercars Series.

Dane confirmed to Speedcafe.com.au last week that his outfit is considering entering V8’s feeder series this year. CLICK HERE to see that story …

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