I have great respect for the guys in pitlane. This is our 'Motor Racing Olympics' - in my view it's elite motor racing and more competitive than any other category in the world.
Given we are at the halfway mark of the season, it made sense to provide a broad overview/assessment of driver performance.
I want to be clear from the outset, criticism is not my style - assessments of athletic and sporting performancesis more for a hardcore journalist.
It's a tough time for teams, some teams don't have the resources of others, getting to race meetings is a challenge in some cases. These factors canimpact the performances/results of a driver.
I only say it as I see it. No rating out of 10, it's cruel; maybe at year's end I'll do that.
Here we go - here's how I think they've fared so far this year.
Robert Dahlgren, Valvoline Racing GRM, Volvo S60
I think it really shows how tough and challenging our Championship is. He is a fine and credentialed driver who's getting better in the clinches; I expect he will show stronger results in the second half of the season. He's copped plenty of bad luck, and luck can often turn! I think the boys have really tested him?
Todd Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing, Nissan Altima
I honestly think Todd is suffering from a heavy workload and it's to the detriment of his racing. A Bathurst and race winner, Todd needs to make some changes fast. He's too young to retire, talent doesn't evaporate.
Jack Perkins, Team JELD-WEN, Ford Falcon
I feel for Jack, I believe he's suffering with his Ford lacking downforce, which makes the car very nervous. Without much testing it's difficult to overcome, especially when your teammates are Ford experienced and top level drivers. There's no one more dedicated, I truly hope he can turn it around to some degree. My suggestion is freestyle, just like his dad used to.
Dale Wood, Team ADVAM/GB Gal, Holden Commodore
Another one struggling for regular pace but he did make the podium at Winton. You don't make the podium if you can't drive and race well. Once again I will not be surprised if he starts to qualify top 15 regularly, then better results will come more frequently. This is such a tough category I reckon it's genuinely three years to get on the pace of the old hands.
David Wall, Wilson Security Racing, Ford Falcon
Without the write off accident in New Zealand David would be in the top 15 easily. One bad meeting with no points really takes its toll. A very strong and intelligent racer, both he and Scotty Pye are evenly matched mostly. Qualifying better on a regular basis will be a big help to his future results. From a Holden last year to a Ford has been a trial he's managed pretty well. He's in a good environment to grow his results in the second half of the season.
Nick Percat, HHA Racing, Holden Commodore
I'm a fan and have been for a while now; his position does not reflect his talent/ability. He's a strong challenger for the guns in his team quite frequently. More experience will take care of the rest but I've been generally very impressed with his rookie season in the Coates Hire HHA Holden. The longer he's in the oven (baking) the better he'll go - mark my words.
Tim Slade, Supercheap Auto Racing, Holden Commodore
Once again, I'm a fan, he has been so unlucky though, there is such a thing as luck in motor racing. Luck goes in cycles though, I know, I've been through many in my long career.
Mark my words, Tim Slade is a genuine race winner, just when, is the question? Again, his results are a reflection of how tough and competitive his day job is.
Russell Ingall, Repair Management Racing Aus, Holden Commodore
Russ is absolutely showing I was correct when I encouraged him to race on last year. He didn't need to retire and he's well and truly holding his own. His worldly experience has helped turn his young team into a decent/competitive organisation. As someone wise once said, youth is wasted on the young! Go Russ, my generation is counting on you! He has never been a strong qualifier; he's one hell of a racer.
Rick Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing, Nissan Altima
Rick is a past Champion and a driver doesn't forget how to win races. The time since his championship year (2006) he's been developing the family race team with Nissan factory support. His car is not quite there. I suspect more development is required, that's how Nissan dominated with Godzilla - they spent up big on development. I'd like to see Rick challenge again for wins, he can given the right package.
James Moffat, Norton Hornets, Nissan Altima
The grittiest driver in the field, he's tough! Just like his dad, and much more outgoing. He's great for his sponsors and no doubt could be a podium challenger regularly if the car was regularly up to it. Again, this is a killer category, I love the continuity of the Moffat, Perkins and let's hope Jnr Johnson gets back soon, he deserves it. History and tradition are so important to our sport!
Scott Pye, Wilson Security Racing, Ford Falcon
I've been impressed with Scotty; he's a no fuss natural racer. He's capable of great things in the future I think. Good solid results will grow his confidence which all drivers need, adapting to a Ford has been a challenge for him this season. A new team, another engineer, it's all tough stuff for a young bloke still finding his feet in the category. I think he's dealing with it pretty well.
Lee Holdsworth, Erebus Motorsport V8, Mercedes Benz AMG E63
I love this guy, he's such a racer with a normal head, no ego, a great nature, tough and smart, I would hire him in a heartbeat! Obviously the Erebus Benz is an up and down proposition currently, he soldiers on relentlessly, no BS, no complaints, just gets on with it. He deserves better results and he will get them in the end, trust me on that!
Will Davison,Erebus Motorsport V8, Mercedes Benz AMG E63
After a couple of years challenging for wins with FPR, his first season with Erebus Benz has been one of character building for Will. He is supremely talented, a proven race winner and if Betty is totally committed I reckon Ross Stone and his boys can deliver a Championship to Will and Mercedes.
Next week the top half of the field.
Follow John Bowe on Facebook.Bowe is supported by Wilson Security, Dunlop Super Dealers and Coates Hire, and competing in the 2014 Touring Car Masters Championship.