V8 Supercars 2015: Meet the new season’s runners and riders

Clipsal 500 grid
The Clipsal 500 grid Photo: V8 Supercars Media

With the V8 Supercars season set to get underway next month and the SuperTest in Sydney less than two weeks away, we thought we’d take a closer look at the grid line-up for 2015…

Numbers remain the same for a second season, but the off-season has seen some movers and shakers amongst the pack, with a number of driver announcements and surprising movements played out across the teams. Of the 25 entrants fielded by the five marques (12 Holden, 5 Ford, 4 Nissan, 2 Volvo, 2 AMG Mercedes-Benz) there are four newcomers, two rookies making their full-time debut, 18 drivers in the same seats, and six of the field sharing 14 title wins between them.

Triple Eight Race Engineering

Red Bull Racing Australia – #1 Jamie Whincup. #888 Craig Lowndes
Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes remain team mates for the tenth straight season at Triple Eight. Building on a clearly strong relationship, the two should prove yet again a powerhouse of the pack and always at the front. Whincup’s record breaking sixth championship last year will only make him hungrier for another title, not to mention his drive to win another Bathurst 1000 after spluttering out last year. 2015 will be Lowndes’ 19th year in the championship but as ever, he will be pushing to outdo his more successful team-mate. Lowndes still has the ability to defeat Whincup but will have to adjust quickly to the engineering style of Grant McPherson, ex-engineer of long-time Ford rival Mark Winterbottom who replaces Jeromy Moore this season.

Andre Heimgartner
Super Black Racing’s full-time V8 Supercars entry will feature Auckland teenager Andre Heimgartner behind the wheel
Prodrive Racing Australia

#5 Mark Winterbottom. #6 Chaz Mostert. #55 David Reynolds. #111 Andre Heimgartner
While there’s been an off-season name change from Ford Performance Racing (FPR) to Prodrive Racing Australia, there’s been no change in driver personnel across the garages of Ford’s factory outfit. Mark Winterbottom will be hoping to fend off the competition in the new FG X Falcon V8 Supercar and end the year as champion after finishing in the top five every season for ten years. Chaz Mostert enters his second year with the team. Despite a year of playing tail-gunner, the 22-year-old scored a handful of podiums, a victory in Perth and an extraordinary win from last in the Bathurst 1000 race, and there is no doubt he is going to further push his more experienced team-mate this season. Winterbottom and Mostert will pilot Ford’s new Falcon FG X from the start of the season while the other two cars will run the old FG guise until the team upgrade soon after. David Reynolds remains in the FPR-prepared Rod Nash Racing entry while recently-formed New Zealand team Super Black Racing (SBR) fills the empty spot left by the departure of Charlie Schwerkolt. SBR has signed young gun Andre Heimgartner who had a stellar main game debut finishing just outside the top ten in last year’s Bathurst 1000 with fellow Kiwi Ant Pedersen.

Tekno Autosports

#97 Shane van Gisbergen
The Jonathon Webb run outfit remain as a one-car operation for 2015 but crucially have retained the services of Kiwi ace Shane van Gisbergen. After an impressive 2014 which saw the 25-year-old come second in the championship even after a points penalty, the privateer team will be looking to go one better this season with its upgraded Triple Eight package and finish on the top step.

Valvoline Racing GRM

#33 Scott McLaughlin. #34 David Wall
GRM’s second year with Volvo sees the team keep Scott McLaughlin as its main driver after his amazing breakout season in 2014. Swede Robert Dahlgren’s vacant seat has been snapped up by ex-Brad Jones Racing and Dick Johnson Racing driver David Wall. With McLaughlin’s pace, Wall’s consistency (not to mention the Wilson Security money he brings) and more speed to be found according to team boss Garry Rogers, the Volvo will be a genuine contender throughout the year.

Walkinshaw Racing

#2 Garth Tander. #22 James Courtney. #18 Lee Holdsworth. #47 Tim Slade
James Courtney and Garth Tander will stay side-by-side for their fifth year in succession, looking to break out of Triple Eight’s shadow and claim the team’s first title in eight years. Tim Slade remains in the team’s Walkinshaw Racing division with SuperCheap Auto Racing, while the spot vacated by Nick Percat and the James Rosenberg Racing license is filled by Lee Holdsworth and FPR-refugee Charlie Schwerkolt, hoping to benefit from Holden’s factory operations.

Brad Jones Racing

#8 Jason Bright. #14 Fabian Coulthard. #21 Dale Wood
Brad Jones Racing’s line-up remains unchanged from the 2014 season with Jason Bright, Fabian Coulthard and Dale Wood keeping their seats for the year. With the departure of the Lockwood sponsorship from Coulthard’s car, Mercedes-owned truck company Freightliner joins the team as the major sponsor.

Nissan Motorsport

#7 Todd Kelly. #15 Rick Kelly. #10 Michael Caruso. #99 James Moffat
While Norton has announced its withdrawal from V8 Supercars sponsorship, nothing else has changed with the four Nissan Altima drivers. Brothers Rick and Todd stay on with Jack Daniel’s Racing, with Michael Caruso and James Moffat driving the other two Nissans. After recording no wins last season, the team will be looking to improve on its two podiums in 2014 and climb the top step at least once this year.

Ash Walsh
New Erebus recruit Ash Walsh makes the step up to the main game with Erebus Motorsport
Erebus Motorsport V8

#4 Ash Walsh. #9 Will Davison. #
Will Davison stays on with the non-factory backed Mercedes team for 2015. Having had five top five finishes including a podium at Townsville in his first year with Erebus Motorsport, Davison is hoping for more consistency from the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG to improve on his 14th place in 2014. Following the departure of Holdsworth, Ash Walsh joins Davison, making his full-time V8 Supercars debut after three-years in the Dunlop (development) series. The 2013 Dunlop Series runner up who has six V8 Supercars starts in the enduros should benefit from Davison’s experience, though there is no doubt Davison will be focusing on victory after failing to stand on the top step of the podium in 2014.

Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport

#TBA Nick Percat. #3 Tim Blanchard
After veteran Russell Ingall’s retirement from full-time racing at the end of 2014, Walkinshaw refugee Nick Percat has joined Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport (LDM) on a multi-year contract. Percat’s enthusiasm and undeniable pace should bring a boost to the team throughout the year. Tim Blanchard returns to the grid full-time in LDM’s second car after stepping back into the co-driver role for Russell Ingall in 2014. Team boss Lucas Dumbrell was impressed by the pace and consistency of the former Dick Johnson Racing 2013 full-timer and the newly expanded two-car outfit is hoping to become a front-running team after what was regarded an uncompetitive season but still its best Championship finish in its five years.

DJR Team Penske

#17 Marcos Ambrose
For the first time since 1986, Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) and new owners Team Penske will only be fielding one car, though the focus will undoubtedly be on its driver. Two-time V8 Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose returns to the category to drive full-time after he departed to race in NASCAR at the end of 2005. With him, he brings American powerhouse Team Penske which has recently acquired 51% of DJR’s shares. Despite running the entire season as “privateers”, there is a high chance that the team will be running a wildcard car at some point, possibly at Bathurst, ahead of a full-time return to two cars in 2016. Like Reynolds and Heimgartner, Ambrose will be running the Falcon FG bodyshell to start the year, before making the switch to the FG X shell later in the season.

V8 Supercars 2015 Entry List

#1Triple Eight Race EngineeringJamie WhincupHolden Commodore VF
#2Holden Racing TeamGarth TanderHolden Commodore VF
#3Lucas Dumbrell MotorsportTim BlanchardHolden Commodore VF
#4Erebus MotorsportAshley WalshMercedes-Benz E63 AMG W212
#5Prodrive Racing AustraliaMark WinterbottomFord Falcon FG X
#6Prodrive Racing AustraliaChaz MostertFord Falcon FG X
#7Nissan MotorsportTodd KellyNissan Altima L33
#8Brad Jones RacingJason BrightHolden Commodore VF
#9Erebus MotorsportWill DavisonMercedes-Benz E63 AMG W212
#10Nissan MotorsportMichael CarusoNissan Altima L33
#14Brad Jones RacingFabian CoulthardHolden Commodore VF
#15Nissan MotorsportRick KellyNissan Altima L33
#17DJR Team PenskeMarcos AmbroseFord Falcon FG X
#18Charlie Schwerkolt RacingLee HoldsworthHolden Commodore VF
#21Brad Jones RacingDale WoodHolden Commodore VF
#22Holden Racing TeamJames CourtneyHolden Commodore VF
#33Volvo Polestar RacingScott McLaughlinVolvo S60
#34Volvo Polestar RacingDavid WallVolvo S60
#47Walkinshaw RacingTim SladeHolden Commodore VF
#55Rod Nash RacingDavid ReynoldsFord Falcon FG/FG X
#97Tekno AutosportsShane van GisbergenHolden Commodore VF
#99Nissan MotorsportJames MoffatNissan Altima L33
#111Super Black RacingAndre HeimgartnerFord Falcon FG/FG X
#888Triple Eight Race EngineeringCraig LowndesHolden Commodore VF
#TBALucas Dumbrell MotorsportNick PercatHolden Commodore VF

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