Red Bull Racing Australia has confirmed co-drivers Steven Richards and Paul Dumbrell will return for the 2016 Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Both drivers have won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with the team – Richards with Lowndes this year, Dumbrell with Whincup in 2012 – and will be formidable combinations when heading to Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast next year.
“They’ve done a good job for us. Both are good guys to go with,” Dane said.
“It’s about having drivers who are quick enough, reliable enough, and understand their job and the cars and the team.”
Team manager Mark Dutton echoed Dane’s sentiments, and with Shane van Gisbergen joining the Triple Eight stable for 2016, the chance of filling the podium is on the cards.
“Lowndesy and Richo winning Bathurst this year was epic. We wouldn’t mind another one of those for next year, a one-two-three finish would be the dream!” Dutton said on the team’s website.
Richards shifted to the team in 2014, after winning the previous year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Mark Winterbottom and notched up his fourth win at the Mountain with Lowndes last month.
“I’m rapt. It’s a pretty easy course to have. You know you’re always in with a shot when you’re with these blokes,” Richards told carsguide.
“It’s very low stress. It locks things in and I’m already committed to another year in the Carrera Cup next year. That will keep me sharp.”
Dumbrell – who is a close friend of Whincup’s – currently races in the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series and will fight for the title at the Coates Hire Sydney 500 against youngster Cameron Waters, who leads by 149 points.
While he and Whincup were not victorious in the enduros this year, the pair has previously won all three of the big events.
The question now is who will share with Shane van Gisbergen across those races.
The Kiwi driver has suggested Jonathon Webb could drive with him at Triple Eight and allow new TEKNO recruit Will Davison to bring brother Alex with him from Erebus for the enduros.
While Webb was flattered by the mention, he told v8supercars.com.au recently it was “not something I’ve jumped at yet” with “a couple of different options and opportunities I’m working through”.
The co-driver puzzle is an interesting one with the driver shuffles of 2016, including the van Gisbergen and Davison moves, and Chaz Mostert’s 2015 co-driver Cam Waters set to step up into the main game.