Supercars Hall of Famer John Bowe says the form turnaround from Shell V-Power Racing in 2017 to become title threats has left him staggered.
The 1995 series champion and two-time Bathurst winner spent his halcyon days at the Queensland squad driving alongside owner-driver Dick Johnson and forming an iconic line-up with Shell backing a series of Ford cars.
Now the Touring Car Masters driver says the upturn in form from the team has been one of his highlights of the 2017 season so far.
“The big difference obviously is the performance of the Shell cars, which I find refreshing in the sense I spent a lot of time with Dick Johnson and his family back in my day and I’m still very fond of them,” he told Supercars.com.
“I find that nice and it’s good that somebody can finally take the fight on a regular basis to Roland (Dane) and his Triple Eight cars.
“No doubt, Triple Eight is a world class operation in every way.
“I guess what Roger Penske is done is give DJR the resources, which starts with a budget, to collect the right people to the right job.
“That’s what they’ve done; they’ve collected the right drivers, engineers and strategists. It shows that it’s possible.
“The first requirement is the budget, but their turnaround this year is absolutely amazing.
“They’ve been the standout since the start of the season.
“It’s staggering. Yet I’m sure it’s not that different to last year. They’ve just added a few more ingredients.”
The Tasmanian racer added he expects a two-way battle between the two, but has not ruled out Prodrive from getting in the championship mix.
“The last 10 years or so, Triple Eight has been the team,” Bowe added.
“I know Frosty and PRA won the championship a couple of years ago which was a fantastic effort.
“But week in, week out, Triple Eight has been such at such a level of excellence that no one has been able to challenge them that much.
“Now it looks like both the DJR Team Penske boys will be seriously in contention. I think that’s great for the sport to be honest.”
Bowe was also full of praise for both Shell V-Power Racing drivers, Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard, for lifting the team while also nominating two other impressive performers including Erebus Motorsport’s David Reynolds and Garth Tander.
“The team has got its act together and his performances have been refreshing,” Bowe said of Reynolds.
“I think Garth’s done exceptionally well this year. Considering where they came from at the end of last year where they didn’t have a car.
“He’s done really well, I reckon. He’s proven to the world what I knew already; he’s a champion.
“I think Scotty McLaughin was an absolute talent and he’s since proven that.
“Fabian’s lifted again as Scotty’s come along. That’s why people have two good drivers in a team – to drive each other on and you have to say they’re both doing an outstanding job.”