Like most people who have an interest in V8 Supercars, I’d have to say 2015 was a bad year by Jamie Whincup’s standards. Jamie has operated at such a high level over many years we’ve become accustomed to seeing his name atop the leader board. So, by his lofty standards this year was far from his best, however – his run to the final flag was an illustration of his measure – that of a Champion.
Sure, there were periods where he and Triple Eight struggled, I felt the longer their battle went on (with poor form) the closer they were to sorting the car out and they were heading back to the winners circle. No question, the end of season results for Triple Eight were remarkable by anyone’s standard. Never write Jamie Whincup off – if you do so it’s at your own peril (I’ve said it many times). He’s never really out of the play! Next year will be fascinating; we’ll have three Triple Eight cars and a battle to see who’ll be top dog? I admire Roland Dane and the way he goes about his racing!
4. Shane Van Gisbergen
The Giz is an amazing driver in my view, he has natural flair with loads of ability – the stuff you can’t learn or be taught! It’s more instinctive; SVG is a freestyle driver much in the mould of Lowndes and is spectacular in the wet. He’s a hard racer and I think on occasions he might cross the line, on the whole he’s one very committed racer who’s very focused and on a mission. The Giz is the real deal and Roland Dane is the person to prove it to the world. I think you’ll see Shane grow both as a racer and a young man under the guidance of RD, make no mistake he certainly went to Triple Eight because he wants to win the Championship. This is a super competitive category where you need to be in the right car, right team at the right time and he is familiar with their gear. It’s a bit like the planets aligning if you like – I think it could be the total eclipse of the sun for SVG sooner rather than later.
3. David Reynolds
You just have to wonder sometimes how ridiculous our sport can be when a team drops a driver like David Reynolds when he’s at the top of his game. This season was his best results by a country mile … and wham! Sadly, that’s the harsh reality of professional motor racing as we know it today. Was it me (it’s not – so it’s easy to say) I’d have found a way to keep him and not hung him out to dry the way he was! I honestly don't think Prodrive got the best from him – in some way what made him interesting, exciting and funny was his weakness in the end. In terms of raw natural talent, David Reynolds has it in spades – I think he needed someone who understood he danced to his own beat. I found his way refreshing and slightly off beat, he certainly wasn’t a product of the media friendly school who churned out quotes in a structured pattern. He said it how he saw it, and maybe once or twice he should have filtered some of his comments. I’m not quite sure Erebus will be able to provide him with what's needed in terms of pace. Time will tell, I guess...
2. Craig Lowndes
Firstly, what an outstanding season this young fella has had in 2015. I find it quite amusing how people, particularly the so called learned media, question how long Lowndesy can continue at this level. You’d only ask that question if you didn’t understand our sport/business. My answer is – he could have ten more years left in him. He is a supremely gifted racer and I know he relishes his relationship with his new engineer – once again the key in a driver’s success cycle, you need to be in the right place at the right time in the right equipment. I think that’s the answer and no question the key to Lowndesy’s success this year. Next year will bring us plenty to feast on and C Lowndes will be in the mix – big time, is my tip. Great result, well done mate!
1. Mark Winterbottom
I think Frosty winning the 2015 V8 Supercar Championship is one of the most deserving results I’ve seen in many years – it was very fitting. I feel Frosty has flattered the car in previous years - this past year he and Prodrive Racing Australia should be congratulated, they did an outstanding job and withstood plenty of pressure to win their first Championship. Let's not miss the point; this was Prodrive Racing, not Ford! Famously, they decided to walk away and Frosty wins in a Ford – it would make you want to cry! Now, Ford is a match for Holden, Nissan and Volvo. Only the Mercedes is lacking, so it’s a huge wrap to the boys and girls at PRA. Back to Frosty, he’s an outstanding driver who could have won three or even four titles but he’s not had not had the necessary equipment. Mark is a consummate professional and must be on everyone's shopping list at the end of 2016. Don't expect the challengers to be any different next year – I do expect a few additions to the battle. Isn't 2016 going to be a cracker year?
Mark Winterbottom – 2015 V8 Supercar Champion I salute you, champ!