Holden veteran Steven Richards has made a surprise switch to Ford where he will partner rising star Mark Winterbottom, who is convinced he can wrest the V8 Supercar mantle back for the blue oval this season.
Bannerman is surprised, and then, not surprised. Steven Richards is a very good driver, and stands to follow his old man into the annals of Oz Motorsport fame and glory. If he can get the right equipment under him, that is. The 2005 and 2006 V8 Supercar fields had, to all intents, quite a number of sows ears in them. 2007 isn’t likely to be much different. The silk purses are rare. Even Stone Brothers are finding that constructing bullet proof engines isn’t the ticket to a championship any longer. Especially as half the field are using those same engines in their own cars.
To take out the 2007 championship, any team or driver will need not just a good car, or the skill edge over his competitors to steer it, or experience on the tracks visited, or the mental agility to accept the bumps along with the back-slaps. He won’t only need to rely upon a race engineer to act as ego salve and tactical director, or be a part of a team with the fiscal where-with-all to provide all the trick bits that define a class race car. He’s going to need them all. All in one package, and all properly balanced, available, and usable when the need arises. Touring Car motorsport in Australia has reached a point of no return in its evolution. More changes are mooted to 2007 seasons rules and points allocation table. The sport is becoming more and more sharply refined with each year to where we now find driver of Richards calibre changing makes and not just teams within a make, in a bid to strike the right balance of machinery/manpower/money.
There was a time when a driver would be forever aligned to a make. Like the fans who follow those makes, a driver was either Ford, or Holden. There was no gray area and never any thoughts of changing that allegiance. Those days ended with the turn of the century and have become ever more competitive since.
So, hang on for the ride if you’re of a mind. Bannerman is, and always will be, a follower of the premier touring car motorsport franchise. Call it V8 Supercars or simply Group C or A or whatever you bloody-well feel like calling it. Australia’s touring car formula is unique in the world and should always remain so. Bannerman eagerly awaits the resumption of hostilities between combatants of the V8 Supercar circus, in Adelaide, March 1 to 4. Oh, and Bannerman also says that FPR have dues yet to be paid. Back Lowndes to take the championship he was denied in 2006.