In addition to running www.v8scglobal.com, our editor writes for theCheckeredFlag.co.uk (TCF), covering the V8 Supercars series (no surprises there then eh?)
As part of its end of 2012 season articles, TCF asked its regular contributors to select a few of their highlights and stars of the past 12 months, as well as what to look out for in 2013. Here’s what our editor picked.
Team of the Year – TeamVodafone
The 2012 V8 Supercars season was dominated by two teams – Ford Performance Racing (FPR) and TeamVodafone. Between them they won all 30 races. With 11 victories, including a seven-race winning streak, it was FPR’s most successful ever campaign but that early-season success only served to trigger TeamVodafone’s fightback. Winning 17 of the last 19 races, the longest winning streak for any team since the Holden Racing Team chalked up 13 consecutive wins across 1998-1999), TeamVodafone won its fourth Team Championship in five years and a second consecutive championship one-two. With a total of 19 race wins (including the Bathurst 1000), 11 pole positions, 38 podium finishes and four 1-2 finishes, TeamVodafone wrapped up the Series in emphatic style.
Driver of the Year – Jamie Whincup
After an impressive ten race wins in 2011, Whincup didn’t ease up in 2012, bettering his win record to 12 on the way to a second back-to-back V8 Supercars Championship. Despite the numbers, Whincup certainly didn’t have it all his own way. 2012 was amongst the hardest-fought of them all, with Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison mounting strong challenges during the first half of the season. However, Whincup is a model of consistency, a demon driver who rarely puts a foot wrong. With seven pole positions and an incredible 24 podium finishes, Whincup defied his critics and rightly earned his place in the history books. This, his fourth title puts him alongside some of the greats of Australian touring car history – Bob Jane, Allan Moffat and Jim Richards – and leaves him just one behind the record five titles won by Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife.
Race of the Year – Bathurst 1000
I really tried to go for something different this year, but I just couldn’t do it! There have been some incredible V8 Supercar races this season, the season opener in Adelaide, race one in Hamilton, the third race in Perth, the Sandown 500 and race two at Townsville, to name a few. But Bathurst tops them all again. It was Jamie Whincup that took the victory in the 50th anniversary of the ‘Great Race’, but he was pushed all the way by David Reynolds in an enthralling Holden-versus-Ford nose-to-tail duel over the final 12 laps, with neither letting up despite both being right on the very edge of their fuel range. And for a second year, the difference between winning and losing this six-hour epic came down to less than one second! Just as exciting though was the thrilling fight for third between James Courtney, Michael Caruso and the fast-finishing Craig Lowndes. I never fail to be amazed at how close and intense this race is after 161 laps!
Moment of the Year – Carnage on the Gold Coast
There have been a number of big moments in V8 Supercars in 2012. Off the track there was the announcement that Nissan is to return to the series in 2013 after an absence of 20 years. There was also the news that V8 Supercars’ executive chairman Tony Cochrane was to retire. Cochrane has been largely responsible for transforming the sport into the success it is today. On the track, the Gold Coast 600 gave us one of the scariest moments. With most teams commencing with their international co-driver on board, many of whom were not used to standing starts, the race took three attempts to get underway after two huge start-line crashes. It was the first start though that made the headlines. American Grand Am driver Ricky Taylor was lucky to escape unharmed after a five-car collision saw his Holden Commodore come to a halt on its roof after clipping the front wheel of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s car and launching into the air going over twice before sliding upside down on the front straight.
Thing to look for in 2013 – New players
In 2013, V8 Supercars open up to other makes for the first time in almost two decades. The “Car of the Future” program has revolutionised the sport and paved the way for new manufacturers. A factory-backed Nissan team to be run by Kelly Racing and a privately funded Mercedes-Benz E-Class team run by Stone Brothers Racing and Erebus Motorsport will end the Ford and Holden duopoly. Despite some aversion, new players are important to the sport’s future direction and should assure its long-term expansion and viability. The new manufacturers bring with them double overhead cam engine technology, while all of cars feature a new control chassis /roll-cage design, bigger 18-inch wheels, transaxle gearbox, independent rear suspension and a mid-mounted fuel cell. Crucially, the cars are expected to be faster and more manoeuvrable, making for even more exciting racing in what is already the world’s best touring car category.
[hr] Agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices and share with us your favourite moments in the Comments section below.
You can also check out the what all the other TCF writers had to say here – TCF Team Pick