Bring it on home, James
WALKING into pitlane in Adelaide today will be like the first day back at school. The V8 Supercar championship is firing up for another year and there will be that familiar mix of excitement, nerves and uncertainty that always made the schoolyard a scary place for a few minutes. But, like school, the V8 Supercar setting is filled with familiar stuff.
The class clown? Paul Morris. He is not driving this year but he will still be stirring the pot.
The bully? It could be any number of team owners, though Tom Walkinshaw is tough to toss.
Teacher’s pet? Craig Lowndes always seems to be the favourite.
The 2009 season brings a lot of changes and plenty of new looks, from the Kermit-green Fujitsu Falcon that Jason Bright will race, to the red Ford of Marcus Marshall, and Vodafone Falcons that have a Hog’s Breath pig in the grille where there would normally be a blue oval.
The biggest question this year is the same as always— who will top the class? Most smart money is going on Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom. Like last year.
Whincup is reigning champion and, like his hero Roger Federer, is studying the tiniest details to ensure he is the fittest, most focused in the game.
But my pick— and I admit bias towards a bloke I have admired since he was a world go-kart champion — is James Courtney. He has been a winner in everything he has driven. He had the class for Formula One until a 330km/h crash at Monza in a Jaguar that could have killed him.
Courtney has been frustrated by his failure to perform in V8 Supercars and has crashed into everything but the safety car. This year he has a Triple Eight racecar, Dick Johnson’s best V8 engines and the team manager who guided him through Formula 3 in Britain, Adrian Burgess, so there are no excuses.
What do you think? Send us an email about your V8 champ and I’ll arrange a prize for the best.
Champion in most classes: anything less than the championship will be a failure for James Courtney.