Motorsport: New cars shake up V8 landscape

By Eric Thompson

Seven winners in nine races suggest Cars of Future have levelled the playing field

Fabian Coulthard is one of only two drivers to have two wins in the new cars this season. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Fabian Coulthard is one of only two drivers to have two wins in the new cars this season. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The introduction of the new Car Of The Future this year in the V8 Supercars championship has livened things up considerably. Last year just two teams, TeamVodafone (now Red Bull Racing Australia) and Ford Performance Racing won all 30 races in 2012 between their four drivers.

This year things have been turned on their head with seven winners from nine races and the series is shaping up to be the most competitive in years. Five different teams have posted wins - Tekno Autosport, Brad Jones Racing, Gary Rogers Motorsport, FPR and Red Bull Racing Australia - and there have been a couple of first-time winners as well.

The only drivers with two wins apiece are Fabian Coulthard, who got his maiden win, and Jason Bright who are both from the Brad Jones Racing stable. The two other Kiwis in the series have also picked up a win each, with Scott McLaughlin grabbing his first and Shane van Gisbergen adding to his growing tally.

The V8 Supercars circus is in Perth this weekend and two teams have dominated the Barbagallo event, claiming 10 of the last 11 race victories since 2008. FPR's Mark Winterbottom has four wins and his teammate Will Davison has two. Red Bull Racing Australia's, and defending champion, Jamie Whincup can lay claim to three while his teammate Craig Lowndes has one.

This weekend though, the clever money will be on BJR's pair of Coulthard and Bright to be the cat among the bigger pigeons.

"It's good to be in Perth and I'm ready to tear it up a bit," said an on-form Coulthard.

"We've made a fair old charge back from where we were at Clipsal [19th and a DNF] but we need to keep the momentum going.

"We also need to keep improving the car so we don't fall behind the other teams. Yeah, the way the season has been going lately either Brighty or myself have won the round.

"We need to keep the consistency going and not become a flash-in-the-pan type of team. The points need to keep rolling in and we can worry about the championship later in the year."

Youngster McLaughlin experienced the highs and lows of motor racing at the ITM400 meeting at Pukekohe grabbing his first main-game win and then ending up heavily in the wall after a mechanical failure.

The car has been repaired but McLaughlin hasn't been able to test the car before arriving in Perth. The Kiwi isn't fazed by this and is champing at the bit to belt up and enter the fray again.

"I'm really looking forward to it and getting back out there, especially after my crash," said McLaughlin.

"Despite not having a good Sunday at Pukekohe I'm still on a high and want to go from being a zero to a hero again. I've raced here twice before and got my first podium finish in the Development Series and won my first round as well.

"I liked the place in the old car and I hope I like the place in my new car."

The last of the New Zealanders in the field, and by no means the least, is Shane van Gisbergen who's settled into his new Tekno Autosport team like a hand in a glove. Getting that first win at the opening round in Adelaide put all the brouhaha surrounding his departure from Stone Brothers Racing to rest and he's got the spring back in his step.

"We've dropped off a little bit in the last couple but we've got some new direction for this weekend so here's hoping," said van Gisbergen.

Look for the newcomers to the series, Nissan and AMG Mercedes, to be quicker as both teams have uprated engine packages and so will be hoping to move up from the tail and start battling it out midfield.

V8 Supercars points

After three rounds

Will Davison 697

Jamie Whincup 666

Craig Lowndes 591

Garth Tander 553

Fabian Coulthard 552

Jason Bright 539

Shane van Gisbergen 532

- NZ Herald

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