V8 Supercars legend Mark Skaife says Jamie Whincup is his favourite to take out the 2016 V8 Supercars title – but that the Triple Eight driver will have a tough fight on his hands.
After a tough middle part of the season, Whincup and Triple Eight bounced back hard at the end of the year. The six-time V8 Supercars champion finished on the podium in all of the last nine races of the season, winning five of them.
In the 27 races before that, Whincup only won three times.
Based on that turnaround in performance, racer-turned-Fox Sports analyst Skaife says that Whincup will start 2016 as the man to beat.
“If you look at Red Bull Racing Australia and the way that they have shifted the momentum their way, you have to say that Whincup goes into next year as a short-priced favourite for me,” he told Motorsport.com.
But it won’t be easy…
While Skaife has singled out Whincup as his pre-season favourite, he also says that it won’t be easy for the Triple Eight driver. With a huge silly season shaking up the grid dramatically for 2016, it won’t just be form man Whincup and newly-crowned champion Mark Winterbottom vying for wins.
“I think the three-car scenario at Triple Eight and how [Shane] van Gisbergen goes against Whincup will be very interesting,” said Skaife. “And how [Chaz] Mostert goes when he comes back will be interesting too.
“I think it will be a really good partnership with Scott McLaughlin and James Moffat at Volvo; I think they will feed off each other in terms of their rivalry and level of competition. The Nissans are continuing to improve, so Rick Kelly shapes up as someone who could finish in the Top 5 next year.
“So you look at all that, and then you add the increased level of commitment from Team Penske – and again, I think that Scott Pye and Fabian Coulthard will work well together in terms of wanting to beat each other and continuing to strive to improve their car – overall there are lots of parts to that puzzle.”