The silliest V8 Supercars silly season sees no less than five race winners on the move for 2016. Here’s a team-by-team rundown of who is set to go where in one of the most significant rejigging of the grid in some years:
Prodrive Racing Australia – Ford FG X Falcon
#1/5. Mark Winterbottom
#6. Chaz Mostert
#55. Cameron Waters
#111. Andre Heimgartner
Winterbottom and Mostert will remain as teammates for a third consecutive year, with Mostert set to recover from the broken leg and wrist sustained in that horrific Bathurst crash in time for the new season.
Young gun Waters will substitute for Mostert for the remainder of the season and his stunning form in the second-tier Dunlop Development Series will see him step up and replace David Reynolds in the #55 entry.
Prodrive Racing Australia runs the Super Black Racing entry, which after leasing a license for its debut season is set to purchase an entry off Walkinshaw Racing to continue into 2016 with incumbent Andre Heimgartner the leading contender for the drive.
Triple Eight Race Engineering – Holden VF Commodore
#TBA. Jamie Whincup
#TBA. Shane van Gisbergen
#888. Craig Lowndes
The multiple Bathurst and championship-winning team expands to three entries for the first time to accommodate new signing Shane van Gisbergen, who moves across from Triple Eight customer team Tekno Autosports.
Van Gisbergen slots into the second Red Bull-backed entry alongside Whincup, teaming up two of the most naturally talented drivers on the grid. Lowndes moves into the third entry/second garage with the same equipment as his teammates, sporting a Caltex-backed livery.
Tekno Autosports – Holden VF Commodore
#97. Will Davison
The single-car Triple Eight customer team replaces van Gisbergen with former Bathurst 1000 winner Davison, who moves across from Erebus Motorsport in a bid to revitalise a career that appears to have stalled.
The Tekno Autosports entry will solidify its technical arrangement with Triple Eight by pairing up with the Lowndes entry in a shared garage.
Walkinshaw Racing – Holden VF Commodore
#2. Garth Tander
#22. James Courtney
#18. Lee Holdsworth
Tander and Courtney will team up for a sixth consecutive season at the Holden Racing Team, looking to break the team’s championship drought and challenge Triple Eight as the leading Holden entry.
Holdsworth will return for a second season in the #18 entry, underpinned by Charlie Schwerkolt license run by the factory-backed Holden stable. The team’s #47 entry, run for Tim Slade in 2015, looks set to be sold to Super Black Racing, reducing Walkinshaw Racing’s presence to three cars.
DJR Team Penske – Ford FG X Falcon
#12. Fabian Coulthard
#17. Scott Pye
The team formed by a partnership between local outfit Dick Johnson Racing and American racing giant Team Penske expands to two cars for its second season, having regained the license leased out to Super Black Racing in 2015.
DJR Team Penske retains Pye for a second season, after he stepped in to replace Marcos Ambrose in a full-time capacity in 2015. With Ambrose stepping down from full-time driving and weighing up whether he returns as an endurance co-driver, DJR Team Penske has recruited race-winner Fabian Coulthard from Brad Jones Racing.
Brad Jones Racing – Holden VF Commodore
#8. Jason Bright
#14. Tim Slade
#21. Chris Pither
No confirmations as yet from the Albury-based Holden team, though Walkinshaw Racing’s Tim Slade is tipped to move across to replace Coulthard in the #14 entry after Reynolds rejected an offer from the team as he waited on a response from Prodrive Racing Australia.
Veteran Jason Bright is tipped to remain with the team for a seventh consecutive season, though again there has been no confirmation from the team as yet.
The team’s former second-tier Development Series driver Chris Pither is the favourite to drive the team’s third #21 entry, replacing the Nissan Motorsport-bound Dale Wood.
Nissan Motorsport – Nissan Altima
#7. Todd Kelly
#15. Rick Kelly
#23. Michael Caruso
#TBA. Dale Wood
The factory-backed Nissan outfit will enter its fourth season with a new driver, as Wood looks set to replace the Garry Rogers Motorsport-bound James Moffat in one of the four Nissan Altimas.
Brothers and team owners Rick and Todd Kelly will again combine in one of the two garages, with Caruso entering his fourth season with the team alongside Wood in the second garage.
Garry Rogers Motorsport – Volvo Polestar S60
#33. Scott McLaughlin
#34. James Moffat
Race-winning Kiwi McLaughlin will again lead the factory-backed Volvo team, in what will his third season driving the Volvo Polestar S60.
Moffat moves across from Nissan Motorsport to drive the second S60, replacing David Wall who will step down from full-time driving after struggling to match McLaughlin’s pace in 2015.
Erebus Motorsport – AMG Mercedes-Benz E63
#4. Ashley Walsh
#9. David Reynolds
Erebus Motorsport moved quickly to secure the services of race winner and Prodrive Racing Australia refugee Reynolds as a replacement for Tekno Autosports-bound Davison.
There have been questions marks over funding for the customer AMG Mercedes-Benz E63 entries, though Walsh is likely to continue for a second season in the #4 entry.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport – Holden VF Commodore
#3. Tim Blanchard
#222. Nick Percat
The customer Holden team will retain the services of former Bathurst winner Percat for a second consecutive season, while current driver Blanchard is likely to remain with the team.
Get all that? The managers and lawyers have been busy with all those new contracts! Now for the sponsorship and co-driver market to complete the 2016 picture.