The 2016 V8 Supercars season hasn’t even started yet, but already the co-driver market for the three endurance races is starting to fall into place.
At Triple Eight, much of the co-driver news has already been announced. Reigning Bathurst 1000 winner Steve Richards will once again team up with Craig Lowndes, while Frenchman Alex Premat has been drafted in from Volvo to partner up with new signing Shane van Gisbergen.
Paul Dumbrell, a part owner in the team, is expected to slot in next to Jamie Whincup again.
At Prodrive, there will need to be some re-shuffling. With David Reynolds gone, Dean Canto could be shifted over to share with series champion Mark Winterbottom, a pairing that would make sense based on physical size.
That would mean Steve Owen could partner Chaz Mostert, with one of the team’s gun Dunlop Series drivers Jack Le Brocq or Garry Jacobsen drafted in for the #6 car alongside Cam Waters.
The Prodrive-run Super Black entry is likely to go to a New Zealand driver – the likes of Ant Pedersen, Simon Evans, and Dom Storey are in the frame.
There aren’t likely to be many changes at the Holden Racing Team compared to last year, Warren Luff back in with Garth Tander, and Jack Perkins with James Courtney.
The same is true for the #8 at Brad Jones Racing – Andy Jones is a lock to join Jason Bright, although expect there to be a change for the #14 car. Rumours have placed Erebus outcast Ash Walsh alongside new signing Tim Slade in the Freightliner-backed entry.
That news all but confirms that Luke Youlden will follow Fabian Coulthard to Penske, while Tony D’Alberto is rumoured to be the leading option to partner Scott Pye in the other Penske car.
Over at Team 18, Karl Reindler is thought be the front-runner to partner Lee Holdsworth.
Consistency will be key in the Nissan camp, with at least three of last year’s co-drivers to be retained. That means David Russell back with Rick Kelly, Dean Fiore with Michael Caruso, and Taz Douglas with either Todd Kelly or Dale Wood. That leaves Nissan the option of bringing in one of its ace overseas drivers for the three races, as it did with Alex Buncombe in 2015.
Volvo will need someone to replace Premat in the #33 alongside Scott McLaughlin, with David Wall – already confirmed as a co-driver for 2016 – likely to be partnered with new signing James Moffat in the #34.
Oliver Gavin is expected to return to partner good friend Nick Percat at LD Motorsport again, with an all-Kiwi team in the #3 car, the likes of Storey and Pedersen potential options to team up with yet-to-be-confirmed regular driver Andre Heimgartner.