V8 Supercars endurance silly season drawing to a close

The V8 Supercars field last weekend at Pukekohe

The V8 Supercars field last weekend at Pukekohe

The line-up of endurance co-drivers for the V8 Supercars Championship’s three endurance races is edging towards completion with the Sandown 500 less than five months away.

Although few teams have formally announced their signings, just a handful of seats are understood to remain in dispute.

The three factory squads – Ford Performance Racing, the Holden Racing Team and Nissan Motorsport – are all locked and ready to go, as are fellow heavyweights Red Bull Racing, Fujitsu Racing GRM, Team BOC and Lockwood Racing.

There will be particular attention on Nissan at Bathurst this year as the marque returns to the 1000 for the first time since its controversial 1992 victory with the all-conquering GT-R.

The Melbourne-based team is understood to have elected against using imports from Nissan’s global family for the two-driver races and will instead field an all-Australasian line-up, headed by former Kelly Racing full-timer Karl Reindler.

The West Australian proved the quickest of the eight Kelly drivers during last year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, and is set to steer the #15 Jack Daniel’s Altima with Rick Kelly.

Daniel Gaunt and David Russell were both Kelly Racing endurance drivers in 2012 and are said to be returning to the revamped team alongside Michael Caruso and Todd Kelly respectively.

Taz Douglas, a former full-timer with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, is expected to complete the line-up, pairing with James Moffat.

Erebus Motorsport, which will return the Mercedes-Benz brand to the Bathurst 1000 for the first time since 1994, has also yet to officially confirm its co-driver roster.

The squad is expected to retain the Lee Holdsworth/Craig Baird and Tim Slade/Andrew Thompson partnerships run last year under the Stone Brothers Racing banner, while a European driver, most likely Christian Klien, is favoured to join German Maro Engel in the third entry.

The key unknowns remain the seats at Dick Johnson Racing, Tekno Autosports and Supercheap Auto Racing.

DJR general manager Steven Johnson looks increasingly likely to stick with his own outfit after talks with other teams, including Tekno, failed to bear fruit.

Australian-international James Davison and Dunlop Series front-runner Ashley Walsh are among others being linked with a possible berth at DJR.

Tekno meanwhile has long been tipped to be courting internationals, with its former Gold Coast standouts Sebastien Bourdais and Marc Lieb both free of schedule clashes and thought to be possibilities.

Former Tekno full-timer, Michael Patrizi, is also without a confirmed ride, and is expected to appear either with Tekno or fellow Triple Eight customer outfit Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.

The only vacant LDM seat, however, is the most likely endurance home for Casey Stoner should the former motorcycle king elect to add any of the main series endurance races to his Dunlop Series schedule.

Endurance mainstays without confirmed rides for 2013 include Dale Wood, Allan Simonsen and former Kelly Racing co-driver Owen Kelly.

See below for Speedcafe.com’s unofficial draft of the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship endurance field

NOTE: Only those marked with an asterisk are a confirmed driver pairing

#

Team Primary Driver Co-driver Car

1

Red Bull Racing Australia Jamie Whincup Paul Dumbrell* Holden Commodore VF

2

Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VF

3

Team HIFLEX Tony D’Alberto Nick Percat* Holden Commodore VF

4

Irwin Racing Lee Holdsworth Craig Baird Mercedes E63 AMG W212

5

Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford Mark Winterbottom Steven Richards* Ford Falcon FG

6

Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford Will Davison Steve Owen* Ford Falcon FG

7

Jack Daniel’s Racing Todd Kelly David Russell Nissan Altima L33

8

Team BOC Jason Bright Andrew Jones Holden Commodore VF

9

SP Tools Racing Maro Engel Christian Klien Mercedes E63 AMG W212

12

Wilson Security Racing Jonny Reid Ford Falcon FG

14

Lockwood Racing Fabian Coulthard Luke Youlden Holden Commodore VF

15

Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly Karl Reindler Nissan Altima L33

17

Wilson Security Racing Tim Blanchard Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG

18

Jeld-wen FPR Ford Alex Davison Chaz Mostert* Ford Falcon FG

19

Tekno Autosports Jonathon Webb Holden Commodore VF

21

Wilson Security Racing David Wall Holden Commodore VF

22

Holden Racing Team James Courtney Ryan Briscoe Holden Commodore VF

33

Fujitsu Racing GRM Scott McLaughlin Jack Perkins Holden Commodore VF

34

Fujitsu Racing GRM Alexandre Premat Greg Ritter Holden Commodore VF

36

Norton 360 Racing Michael Caruso Daniel Gaunt Nissan Altima L33

47

Heavy Haulage Australia Racing Tim Slade Andrew Thompson Mercedes E63 AMG W212

55

The Bottle-O FPR Ford David Reynolds Dean Canto* Ford Falcon FG

66

Supercheap Auto Racing Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VF

80

ekol Racing Scott Pye Paul Morris Holden Commodore VF

88

Dodo Insurance Racing Dean Fiore Holden Commodore VF

97

TEKNO Team VIP Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF

360

Norton 360 Racing James Moffat Taz Douglas Nissan Altima L33

888

Red Bull Racing Australia Craig Lowndes Warren Luff* Holden Commodore VF

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