Paul Dumbrell is definitely a wanted man for the enduros because of his fitness.
RETIRING V8 Supercar drive Paul Dumbrell has been anointed as a future Bathurst winner.
Five-time Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes said Dumbrell was "shaping up as the leading contender" for a co-driving position in TeamVodafone in the endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst next year.
Lowndes has claimed four of the last six Bathurst titles and finished second this year with Mark Skaife who will no longer be eligible to drive because he has taken up a position as chairman of the V8 Supercars Commission.
"Paul is definitely a wanted man for the enduros because of his fitness and he's still currently one of the top drivers even though he's retiring," Lowndes said yesterday in Brisbane before heading off to Sydney for the season finale at Homebush.
"He has a lot to contribute going into Sandown and Bathurst next year. "He understands the business and the game and he goes really well at Bathurst. "I think he will be one of the guys you'd want to partner with.
"He's a little bit shorter and skinnier than me and all that comes into account when making quick pit changes." The decision will not be made solely by Lowndes, but in consultation with team principal Roland Dane. "Knowing Roland, he would already have had a quiet word to Paul," Lowndes said.
Dane confirmed he had "a list of people" including overseas drivers he was considering as co-drivers in the endurance events for Lowndes and teammate Jamie Whincup. "We'll make an announcement early in the new year, so they get more time to participate in tests and the Friday practice sessions throughout the season," he said.
Meanwhile, Lowndes and Whincup said they would "race to win" this weekend, despite securing the top two positions in the championship whether they finish a race or not. Whincup leads Lowndes by 188 points with 150 points each for the races on Saturday and Sunday. "
We've still got to race it out," Whincup said. "I'm definitely going to try to win both races." Lowndes concedes it's an uphill battle for him.
"I have to win both races and hope Jamie finishes out the top six," he said. "Saturday is crunch day for me. The whole season has come down to one race. "If I can't reduce the points gap to Jamie by 38 on Saturday it's all over for me."
Brisbane-based TeamVodafone has already wrapped up their third team championship this year and is guaranteed of the top two driver placings. Whincup has won 12 races and Lowndes four out of the 26 so far.
If Whincup wins this weekend, he will join Lowndes and Peter Brock with three championships. Only Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife, Allan Moffat, Bob Jane and Jim Richards have won more championships.
Lowndes is guaranteed his seventh-straight finish in the top four in the championship since 2005. He was runner-up in 2005 and 2006 in addition to his three titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999.