OPINION: WAU must make a statement in co-driver market
Monday 20th December, 2021 - 10:32am
All eyes are on Walkinshaw Andretti United for the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship.
They’ve been making all the right noises and have been walking the walk.
Now, finally, after more than a decade of frustration, they are back in a position to win a title next year – something they haven’t achieved since the 2009 teams’ championship when Garth Tander and Will Davison were its drivers.
Nick Percat’s recruitment from Brad Jones Racing to join Chaz Mostert makes for almost certainly the strongest driver line-up in pit lane.
And that comes at a time when powerhouse Triple Eight Race Engineering is going through its biggest changing of the guard in 15-plus years, perhaps ever.
But Lee Holdsworth’s departure to Grove Racing for a full-time seat, which was facilitated by WAU releasing him from his co-driver contract for 2022, leaves a crucial gap that must be filled.
The quality of the co-driver field has risen sharply in recent years, and Holdsworth’s own performance was pivotal in WAU’s Bathurst 1000 triumph a couple of weeks back.
Holdsworth ended up driving well more than the minimum 54 laps necessitated, such was his pace that it allowed for coveted strategic flexibility.
Nowadays, it’s not enough to be simply a safe set of hands. You need both drivers to be fast to be a shot at the Peter Brock Trophy.
Warren Luff has been with the Clayton squad for eight years now, netting four Bathurst 1000 podiums in that time, and would be a logical reappointment.
Even at the age of 45, Luff was excellent earlier this month in helping the #2 Commodore take fifth place in Bryce Fullwood’s WAU swansong.
But WAU needs two top quality co-drivers, given its desire to contend for the teams’ championship and the impact it has on the end-of-year standings being that there’s 300 points for a driver, or up to 576 for a team, available in one hit.
Jayden Ojeda could come into consideration if his mooted Super2/Supercars wildcard programme with Walkinshaw comes to pass.
The Penrith product is undoubtedly talented, but surely must carry a few scars from a bruising first two Great Race campaigns.
There is an obvious target that would instantly bolster WAU’s stocks: recruiting one of Tander or Craig Lowndes from Triple Eight.
There is potential for an awkward three-into-two scenario at the Banyo squad, with Jamie Whincup now likely joining Tander and Lowndes in the co-driver ranks.
That may be resolved by the team fielding another Bathurst 1000 wildcard, but if you’re WAU, the chance is there to lure some star power across.
After all, they do have a fairly strong selling point too, given the ridiculous pace shown by the #25 of Mostert/Holdsworth this year at The Mountain.
If neither of Triple Eight’s champions can be tempted, James Moffat is right up there as well, pending his contractual situation at Tickford Racing.
While he generally struggled in the full-time scene, Moffat has been an ace up Tickford’s sleeve ever since becoming an endurance specialist in 2018.
James Golding has also proven himself to be worth looking at, while Zane Goddard shapes as an intriguing target having been bumped out of a full-time seat.
In announcing its release of Holdsworth, WAU noted “announce its co-driver line-up for 2022 in the new year”.
The Repco Bathurst 1000 is set to be the only enduro of the 2022 season, and will return to its traditional slot of October 6-9.