Ryan Simpson’s ex-Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Ford is expected to set the performance and presentation benchmarks at Mallala’s Kumho V8 Touring Car season opener following a return to its famed Vodafone livery.
The seventh season of the third-tier V8 Supercars class kicks off at Mallala as part of the Shannons Nationals this weekend.
Simpson won nine races last year on the way to second in points despite missing the opening two rounds.
Having made his debut in the Dunlop Series at the Clipsal 500 last month, the 26-year-old will start favourite amongst a modest 12 car Kumho field at the South Australian circuit.
Two-time reigning series winners Fernandez Motorsport will not be on the grid after proving unable to replace last year’s title holder Shae Davies, who is focussing on his Carrera Cup duties in 2014.
The Mallala entry consists of eight Fords and four Holdens and features the first run for Shane Hunt in his ex-Triple Eight Falcon.
Other notables include the Kumho debut of Craig Dontas in THR’s ex-PWR Holden and a late deal that sees fellow V8 Ute regular Gerard McLeod aboard an ex-BJR Ford.
Several are debuting striking liveries, including Chris Delfsma’s Ford, which has been returned to its Britek Fujisu Racing colours.
The Kumho V8 Touring Car Series is joined by the Australian Formula Ford Series, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Kerrick Sports Sedan Series, Super Six Touring Car Series and Australian Sports Racer Series on the program.
The revamped national Formula Ford competition has attracted a strong field of 24 entries, including those from leading teams Sonic Motor Racing Services, Synergy Motorsport and Borland Racing Developments.
The new Sports Sedan season will once again pit the Alfa GTV-mounted Tony Ricciardello against Darren Hossack in John Gourlay’s Audi A4, while the 12 car Sports Racer entry is headlined by the appearance of Briton James Winslow.