I’m sure Lee and Charlie [Schwerkolt] are disappointed with their 2015 season’s results. I’ve said previously, I think it’s almost impossible to run a four car team and Lee’s results pretty much prove my theory. Make no mistake, Lee is a race winner in the right place so let's hope it’s next year. That said, it will take them a while to get into stride, this is the world’s toughest category.
13. Tim Slade
I genuinely feel that Sladey, for much the same reason as Lee, it’s tough when you’re the third/fourth car in a four car team. The two HRT cars will always be the main focus. I think 2016 will be better for Tim, he and BJR are made for each other. I recall how Fabs [Fabian Coulthard] blossomed at BJR after his time at HRT where he almost sank. BJR are a close knit family team that will suit Tim and his work ethic. Don't forget his performances at Stone Brothers. He still has what it takes – for sure!
12. Michael Caruso
A huge factor in V8 Supercars as to how well you go is always how well the car is working. The Kellys have done a good job with the Nissans this year and are on the improve – they showed signs they are thereabouts. I think the Nissans are capable of wins now so let's see what Mikey is really capable of in 2016.
11. Chaz Mostert
If it wasn't for his accident at Bathurst, there’s no doubt Chaz would have been in the frame for the Championship – up to his neck! At times he had the measure of Frosty; he out-qualified and out-raced him … ominous signs for the future. I reckon it's going to be a long road back to recovery and will take all Chaz’s might and strong will to get over his injury. He is certainly a Champion in waiting.
10. James Courtney
He’s a very tough and experienced racer, he makes few mistakes and for James to finishes in the top 10 (even though he missed lots of races) shows he’s a quality racer. If HRT can drag a tiny bit more speed out of their cars and string together a tad more consistency, they will be up there amongst the front runners. They are that close. As for James, I reckon he has another Championship in him – it’s possible.
9. Rick Kelly
I think the Nissan is almost there now, I think that’s fantastic for them and a reflection of both Kelly boys. For Rick to be totally involved in the business and finish inside the top 10 is an outstanding personal result for him. His dual role can never be underestimated, not only is he battling some of the smartest minds in motorsport – he’s racing in the most competitive category in the world and finished in an impressive ninth this year – well done.
8. Scott McLaughlin
I truly believe Scotty McLaughlin is another Champion in waiting. Unfortunately, early season unreliability slowed his results. You only had to watch his form later in the season and GRM and Scotty were on fire! They make a great combination, the vibe in the GRM garage is as good as you’ll find up and down pit lane. It’s a fantastic environment for a young driver to thrive, and that he will.
7. Fabian Coulthard
I think for Fabs to finish seventh this year is disappointing by his own standards. He was very fast early in the season. I think he was probably distracted by all the DJR Team Penske hype and speculation in the media. There is no doubting his pace though. It will be an interesting year in 2016 with Fabs move, he has Phil Keed (his BJR engineer) joining him at DJR Team Penske – personally I think they will be a super strong combination.
6. Garth Tander
This guy is the epitome of the ‘racer’s racer’ I reckon, he’s a hard arse racer and can never be discounted or written off. Like James, if HRT can drag a little more speed out of their thing and string a little consistency together Garth will be knocking on the door. He’s a clinical passer, the toughest racer to pass (that’s a badge of honor, I reckon). He’s always in the picture and I reckon sometimes his results flattered the HRT car.
Stay tuned for JB’s final report card on v8supercars.com.au.