CAMPBELLFIELD, Victoria, Australia — official release — V8SC photo —
Steve Owen, Dean Canto and Cameron Waters will return as Prodrive Racing Australia co-drivers in the Pirtek Enduro Cup this year, but just which factory-backed Ford Falcon each of them will steer is yet to be finalized.
In 2014 Owen paired with Mark Winterbottom in a Pepsi- Max Ford, Canto continued with David Reynolds in the Bottle-O Falcon and Waters shared the Charlie Schwerkolt- owned Jeld-Wen entry with Jack Perkins.
For 2015 Schwerkolt’s entry has been replaced in the four-car line-up by New Zealand-owned Super Black Racing, which will make its own co-driving decision separately from PRA.
The missing name from last year’s driving roster is, of course, Paul Morris, who elected to retire from V8 Supercars after co-driving Chaz Mostert’s Pepsi-Max Falcon to victory in the tumultuous Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. It was the second year in a row a Pepsi-Max Falcon had emerged on top in the great race, with Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards also triumphant in 2013. In both cases the factory Fords defeated the Red Bull Racing Australia combination of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell.
The 2015 driver line-up will debut the Falcon FG X in endurance racing and represent Ford in its final year as a backer of V8 Supercars. Reflecting that withdrawal is the team’s name change from Ford Performance Racing to PRA.
While it seems logical to assume that Waters – who is again racing in the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series for PRA in 2015 – will step into the seat vacated by Morris, PRA team principal Tim Edwards says the process isn’t that simple or sorted and could take another month to resolve.
“We have our three co-drivers signed, but we have yet to decide exactly which car they will drive in,” Edwards said. “To be honest we haven’t even talked about it. We get to this point every year saying these are the co-drivers and over the next month or two we will work out who is driving with who.”
“It’s a bit of a consultative approach, talking to the regular drivers, the engineers, (team manager) Chris O’Toole, commercial. So it’s just one of those things we haven’t done yet.”
Winterbottom and Owen finished sixth at Bathurst in 2014, but were in contention for the win until RBRA’s Craig Lowndes spun the factory Ford in the dying laps. The duo finished fourth in the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Reynolds and Canto were also looking good for a strong Bathurst result until the car ground to a halt on lap 117. They went on to finish 20th in the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Bathurst was the highpoint in a miserable year for Schwerkolt and Perkins. But a top 10 result was killed off by a late race drive through penalty. Waters was making only his second start in the Great Race. They finished 18th in the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Mostert and Morris finished second in the Pirtek Enduro Cup behind Whincup and Dumbrell.
While describing a Mostert-Waters pairing only as “one scenario”, Edwards was prepared to hint the Canto-Reynolds combination had a chance of extending into a fourth consecutive year.
“The stature of the drivers is an issue; so no point putting the tallest bloke with the shortest bloke, all those sort of things,” Edwards said. “So I can pretty much give you the tip that Dean is not driving with Chaz.”
“You just weigh up all those things,” Edwards added. “You also don’t want to put someone in a car with someone they don’t like – not that we have that situation with our guys. So you just have to workshop the whole thing. The engineers will get involved, Ossie (chief engineer Nathanial Osborne) will have his say, the drivers will have their say then I will put it all in a pot and stir it up and do a lucky dip.”
CREDIT: V8 Supercars