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POLL: Triple Eight’s biggest threat in 2016

Speedcafe.com

Monday 21st March, 2016 - 7:15pm

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Van Gisbergen leads Whincup at Albert Park

Van Gisbergen leads Whincup at Albert Park

The opening two V8 Supercars events of the season have shown that Triple Eight’s three drivers will take plenty of stopping in 2016.

Albert Park’s non-championship sprint races were largely a high speed parade for the Queensland-based Holdens as they romped to victory in all four heats.

Stunningly, Races 2 and 3 saw podiums sweeps for the team in just its second event since expanding to three cars.

The performances followed a strong run in Adelaide that began with Jamie Whincup winning the opening race of the season.

While Triple Eight’s trio of Whincup, Albert Park winner Shane van Gisbergen and evergreen Craig Lowndes have all earmarked themselves as title contenders, just where their biggest threat will emerge from remains unclear.

Prodrive has had a mixed start to its campaign, with reigning champion Mark Winterbottom struggling for speed in Adelaide before being caught up in an early incident at Albert Park.

Team-mate Chaz Mostert showed top five pace at both venues, although a crash on Sunday in Adelaide has him mired down the points standings.

With its form patchy since midway through 2015, whether Prodrive can rise to match their arch rivals this year is under serious question.

Fellow Ford squad DJR Team Penske has meanwhile delivered on pre-season predictions that it would emerge as a contender in its second season under American ownership.

Raw speed has yielded two pole positions and a single podium to date, but strategic and pitstop issues in Adelaide prevented further success.

The Holden Racing Team meanwhile blasted out of the blocks in Adelaide, with James Courtney leading the charge with a sensational Saturday race win.

Although lacking the pure speed of Triple Eight and Coulthard at Albert Park, running strongly in the top 10 at the smooth and flowing venue appeared a positive step for the perennially inconsistent squad.

Elsewhere, Nissan has strong reason for optimism as Michael Caruso leads the championship and, impressively, fought his way into the top five by the end of Race 4 in Melbourne.

While few are expecting any of the four Altima drivers to win the title, the team appears to have made progress and is a worthy inclusion in this poll.

Likewise, Volvo was also a front-runner in Adelaide through star driver Scott McLaughlin and also cannot be discounted from contention.

The team again hit reliability trouble at Albert Park, however, and such issues cannot be repeated in championship events if the squad can have any hope of taking down the big guns over a season.

Which team will provide the biggest threat to Triple Eight’s three drivers in this year’s V8 title race?

Cast your vote on this week’s Pirtek Poll.

Pirtek Poll

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