Two events into the 2015 season and it’s all happening … V8 Supercars is certainly a dynamic sport and nothing stays the same for long.
Although we’re still tidying up the details, the big news is my world is that the announcement that I’ll be staying with Triple 8 for another two years beyond 2015 and that the team will expand to three cars.
We knew it would happen, but as soon as the announcement was made there were plenty of people speculating that it means I’ll be retiring at the end of 2017 but I can tell you that’s certainly not my, or the team’s plan.
My competitiveness and how I feel at the time will determine when I decide to stop racing, and the initial decision will only be about stopping V8 Supercars full time, my plan would be to step into a co-driving role at that point.
So when I stop racing full time, I’ll be mixing up co-driving duties in the V8 Enduro Cup events – Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast – with some GT racing, Ambassador work with my sponsors and maybe some TV stuff too.
Staying at Triple 8 wasn’t really a hard decision in the end.
For the 11 years I’ve been at the team it’s been the best in pitlane … we’ve had a lot of success together and it feels a bit like one big family.
I did have some other options to consider, including a real left field one not even in V8 Supercars, but in the end I knew the right decision was to stay with the team that will give me the most chance of success in the future.
Along with the news that I’m staying at Triple 8 came the announcement that Shane Van Gisbergen is joining the Jamie (Whincup) and I at the team, from the beginning of next year.
Shane is certainly a fast and tough racer, and he’ll keep Jamie and I on our toes, and of course it’ll be interesting to see the dynamic within the team running three cars for the first time.
Also big news, and very fresh as I write, is Marcos Ambrose’s decision to step down from DJR Team Penske for an undetermined period after just three V8 Supercar meetings.
Marcos’ return from NASCAR after nine years in the USA and the arrival of the giant American Penske team into V8 Supercars, buying into Dick Johnson’s operation, was the big story of late 2014.
His return to the series, at Homebush last December, was a tough baptism but to be expected given he’d never driven the latest generation of V8 Supercars, which are very different to the cars he drove here before going to America.
The two events so far this year, the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and the short sprint races at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, haven’t brought him much more joy either.
Even so, given he’s such a good race driver with nothing to prove, it’s a surprise to hear he’s decided to step aside after only a handful of events and let Scott Pye drive the Penske-DJR Falcon.
Marcos apparently believes it’s the best way of figuring out if the lack of pace is him or the car, as Scotty has a lot more experience in this generation of cars, so Marcos hopes to learn from that and return to the car later in the year.
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out over the coming races … but it’s disappointing for all Marcos’ many fans as the native Tasmanian pulled the pin just ahead of the Tyrepower Tasmanian SuperSprint round at Symmons Plains.
I’ll update you on my season so far next time.
Stay safe, talk soon.