The two best seats in the house for the 2016 performance of the Bathurst 1000 have been filled.
It’s nothing about the view and everything about a shot at success, as seats 88 and 888 mean sitting alongside former multiple winner Jamie Whincup and defending champion Craig Lowndes.
Not surprisingly, the seats have been claimed - or re-claimed - by Paul Dumbrell and Steven Richards, who already have five victories between them.
“They’ve done a good job for us. Both are good guys to go with,” says Roland Dane, boss of the crack Red Bull Racing team.
“PD has been us since 2012 and Richo since 2014, and he and Craig won this year. I’m happy to continue with both of them.
You know you’re always in with a shot when you’re with these blokes
“It’s about having drivers who are quick enough, reliable enough, and understand their job and the cars and the team.”
For four-time Bathurst winner Steven Richards, the deal is a good one and he has a two-year contract to share with Lowndes.
“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 says.
“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.”
The early signing by Red Bull reflects the recent race to grab good co-drivers early, with the Holden Racing Team expected to confirm soon that Jack Perkins will continue with James Courtney and Warren ‘Wazza’ Luff will be back with Garth Tander in 2016.
“We’ve worked it out but I can’t talk about it yet,” says the boss of Team Red, Ryan Walkinshaw.
There will definitely be changes in the Prodrive Falcon camp, as Chaz Mostert’s co-driver this year - Cam Waters - steps up to a fulltime drive next year.
Marcos Ambrose is also out of DJR-Team Penske, which means two newcomers for Fabian Coulthard - who is likely to bring Luke Youlden to his new Queensland team - and Scott Pye.
Drivers such as Ferrari GT racer Tony D’Alberto are in big demand, as they have a full-time competition program to keep them sharp and are a good physical match with a number of V8 Supercars regulars including Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth and Pye.
The big unknown is the partner for Shane van Gisbergen, who is leaving Team Tekno to take the second Red Bull Commodore as Craig Lowndes slips into a third satellite car at Triple Eight Race Engineering with backing from Caltex.
Just like Dumbrell and Richards, the man making the choice and signing the cheque is Roland Dane.
“I sit in the driving seat until the cars hit the track,” laughs Dane.
“We will probably decide pretty soon. We know who we’ve got in mind, who’s on the shortlist. Luckily, people are quite keen.”
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