Bathurst 1000: Co-drivers rated
Bathurst. For The Race Torque team, this is it. The best week of the year. Ok, we do also love the Bathurst 12 Hour, but you get my drift.
Every year we stare into the Crystal Ball and pluck out the good, the bad and the ugly of the co-drivers nominated for The Great Race.
As we have witnessed in the recent COVID-affected years, the co-drivers as a collective have had little seat time. One all-in P1 session at Sandown, ride days and the final allocated test day for all teams is as much time as the 28 co-drivers will get before, they arrive at Mount Panorama.
In our annual preview, Dale Rodgers looks at the form guide and reviews the co-driver’s impact on the team’s chances. As always, we have applied a rating to each driver, but this year we have expanded it to a broader ranking using the A – B – C – D method.
So, let’s take a look…….
Red Bull Holden Racing Team –Jamie Whincup (#88) & Garth Tander (#97)
The best co-driver combinations in the field.
Red Bull Racing has claimed the ‘Dream Team’ label in prior years with Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes, but now throw in Jamie?
No argument from our end. If you are Brock Feeney, you would have to pinch yourself. He lands the GOAT Jamie Whincup as a Co-driver in the famous #88 Ampol Red Bull Commodore. Think about that. Ok, it is his boss, and he does pay the wages, but he is among, if not, the best out there.
The #97 Red Bull HRT Commodore of champion elect Shane Van Gisbergen has his sidekick Garth Tander back again and based on form, this duo looks ready to deliver another win at Bathurst.
Tander is one of the best. He fits so easily into the Ampol Red Bull Racing outfit. He knows the team well and will no doubt be faster than many regular Supercars pilots.
Garth Tander A+
Jamie Whincup A+
Dick Johnson Racing – Tony D’Alberto (#11) & Alex Davison (#17)
Unchanged from 2021, and best livery award!
Alex Davison did a very solid job in 2021, after getting the seat when it became obvious that Scott McLaughlin could not return. Clearly, he has done enough to go around again with his brother in the famous #17 DJR Mustang. He mixed it early in the race with some lead drivers after taking the start last year and will be great support for the in-form Will Davison.
On the other side of the garage in #11 is a co-driver that returns for his seventh time with DJR. Tony D’Alberto saddles up for his eighteenth Bathurst 1000, nearly half of those with DJR. His best result is third in 2017 with Fabian Coulthard aboard the DJR Team Penske Falcon. After a DNF in 2021, the De Pasquale / D’Alberto Mustang is one of the hot race favourites. An almost certain TCR Crown is looming for D’Alberto.
Tony D’Alberto A
Alex Davison A-
Tickford Racing – Zane Goddard (#5), James Moffat (#6) & Zak Best (#55) & Kurt Kostecki (#56)
Can Tickford finally put it all together? A team that seems so capable but, on many occasions, ends up with puzzling results. They return with four cars in 2022 with arguably their trump card in Cam Waters and James Moffat in the #6 Monster Mustang.
Runners up in 2021, Waters and Moffat are aiming for a win at Bathurst this year. Moffat has kept his eye in with his TCR campaign and is a perfect fit for Waters. He knows the team well; he is fast and can be called upon to start or run stints towards the end of the race. One of the best combinations out there
Teaming up with James Courtney is Zane Goddard. He will be having his third Great Race start, the previous two with Matt Stone Racing registering DNFs. Goddard has been a regular in the Gen 3 Mustang testing program with Supercars but by no means arrives match fit. Courtney will do a lot of the work, but Goddard is highly regarded and a contender for the Tickford seat should Courtney step down.
Zak Best returns to the main Tickford lineup but this year to partner up with Thomas Randle in the #55 Castrol Mustang. Best was super impressive, tyres aside, at this Wildcard appearance at The Bend and this team could well spring a surprise. Needs to stay on the lead lap and out of trouble. Best will also be out to win the Super 2 Championship so no shortage of laps.
An all-Kostecki affair in the #56 Tradie Mustang. Jake has had a tough year in the main game and brother Kurt has made a few appearances in the third WAU Commodore so he at least has had some race miles. Top 10 would be a gold medal.
Zane Goddard B
James Moffat A
Zak Best B+
Kurt Kostecki B-
Penrite Racing – Erebus – Jack Perkins (#9) & David Russell (#99)
Another unchanged lineup from 2021. Both Perkins and Rusell are rated highly by Team Boss Barry Ryan and fit well into the team structure.
Despite the huge accident in New Zealand, the #9 Will Brown Commodore is back on track and has competed a solid test with both drivers cutting laps at The Bend.
Jack Perkins is a seasoned and safe pair of Bathurst hands. Perkins has not missed a start at Bathurst since 2006, making this his seventeenth appearance. Results however have not been great with only one podium in that time with James Courtney in 2019. But the results belittle his performances, and he is a perfect partner for Will Brown. This is a very good pairing.
In the #99 Erebus Commodore is David Russell. Like Perkins, he is a ‘veteran’ at Bathurst with nearly all his starts being with Kelly Racing and Nissan Motorsport. Russell is somewhat of an enigma. He carries strong personal backing, and competes again in Porsche Carrera Cup but had never really shone on the big stage at Bathurst until 2021 when he was applauded for his drive with Brodie Kostecki into a fine third place. Continuity is a key to Erebus’s success in 2022.
Jack Perkins B+
David Russell B+
Walkinshaw Andretti United – Warren Luff (#2) & Fabian Coulthard (#25)
Warren Luff is the undisputed Co-driver Podium performer at Bathurst. In the last decade, Luff has stood on the podium six times and in 2014 he did not even start! Blotting his fine copybook in 2021, Luff could ‘only’ manage a fifth place with Bryce Fullwood in the #2 Commodore. This year he teams up with Nick Percat for the first time. Percat has had a tough year, but he is hitting his straps at the right time of the year. If they are fast and clean, #2 could be a podium contender.
WAU boss Bruce Stewart was quick to move to secure Fabian Coulthard to partner with defending Bathurst champ Chaz Mostert. It was a smart move. Coulthard has been ‘embedded’ in the team since he signed. Attending race meetings, drive and test days, Coulthard told The Race Torque at Sandown that he felt energised and ready to go after a tough 2021 with Team Sydney. Expect #25 to be a contender once again.
Warren Luff A
Fabian Coulthard A
Brad Jones Racing – Jaxon Evans (#4), Dale Wood (#8), Dean Fiore (#14) & Jordan Boys (#96)
Two Co Drivers return and two are new for 2022. Porsche star Jaxon Evans gets his first taste of Supercars aboard the #4 Jack Smith Commodore. Bathurst is not new to him, however, having placed second in the 2020 Bathurst 12 hour at his third attempt in addition to his Carrera Cup races at Bathurst. A top 15 finish for this pair would be a good result.
Dale Wood returns for his fourteenth start at The Mountain teaming with Andre Heimgartner in the #8 R&J Batteries Commodore. He is no stranger to BJR as he drove full time for the squad back in 2014 and 15 and re-joined for Bathurst duties in 2021. He is quick and has settled back into the Porsche ranks but Heimgartner needs Wood to be at his best at Bathurst.
Dean Fiore is another who has an abundance of experience with only one start less than Wood, but the West Aussie has had more recent success with Team 18 and Nissan Motorsport. He is back with BJR and teams up with Bryce Fullwood in the #14. Fiore was almost furniture at Nissan and Kelly Racing teaming up there with Michael Caruso for five years in the Altima Supercar. He is fast and reliable and a cameo at Sandown in an MWR Nissan gave him a race win and podium.
Jordan Boys returns to BJR this time teams up with Macca Jones in the #96 Commodore. He drove for the team in 2020 with Todd Hazelwood sitting out the 2021 Bathurst 1000. Boys has made a couple of Wildcard appearances in the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship, so he has had some good seat time. Needs to focus and support Jones to snare a result.
Jaxon Evans C+
Dale Wood B
Dean Fiore B
Jordan Boys C
Team 18 – Michael Caruso (#18) & Tyler Everingham (#20)
Team 18 have built a sting second half of the season with Top 20 results for Pye and Frosty. Co-driver wise one stays, and one is new. Michael Caruso is back for his seventeenth Bathurst fresh from a podium at Sandown’s TCR round. He slots in perfectly well with Frosty and brings a lot of Bathurst experience. A very solid combination who will be looking for a good result off the back of their fifth place in 2021.
Scott Pye too will be aiming at adding to his excellent Bathurst record. A DNF last year after a Lap 1 steering rack issue spoilt his run of five Top 10s, two of those in second place. The choice of young gun Tyler Everingham is brave by Team 18. He has one Bathurst 1000 start under his belt in 2020 with the GRM Wildcard and a couple of Bathurst 12 Hour and Super 2 starts. He will also be on double duties with Super 2, so time will tell if the 21-year-old can deliver what Pye needs on Sunday.
Michael Caruso B+
Tyler Everingham C
Grove Racing – Matt Campbell (#26) & Matthew Payne (#10)
The Grove Team has made big improvements in its first-year post the Kelly era. Matt Cambell returns to team up this time with David Reynolds in the #26 Penrite Mustang. Campbell is one of our finest exports at present having huge success as a Porsche factory driver and soon-to-be Penske Porsche driver. He has been impressive at Bathurst in his three 1000 starts to date but possibly more so for his late race charge to win the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour. Campbell is a star and will complement Reynolds, who also shines at Bathurst, very well.
Matthew Payne gets his first Bathurst 1000 start ahead of his full-time promotion in 2023. He will partner last year’s winner Lee Holdsworth who was one of the stars of 2021. A lean season to date for Holdsworth so this team can go to The Mountain with a master and apprentice kind of vibe. Having Lee will be great for Payne and if everything goes to plan, they could sneak a Top 10 result.
Matt Campbell B+
Matthew Payne C+
Team CoolDrive – Tim Blanchard (#3)
Team owner Tim Blanchard returns once again for his twelfth Bathurst 100 in his family-owned #3 Cool Drive Mustang.
Now in its second year, 2022 has proved a bit of a roller coaster for BRT, with some weekends well in the Top 10 and others towards the rear of the field. Blanchard also has had to manage personnel changes in his small team and also accepting that Tim Slade will be moving on and most likely Todd Hazelwood will be joining. Plenty on Blanchard’s mind as he suits up for his driving duties. He is a very solid performer at Bathurst and his 2021 drive was as good as many of the seasoned co-drivers.
Blanchard made a cameo appearance in Super 2 with Eggleston Motorsport at Townsville and has done all the test days to date.
Tim Blanchard B
Matt Stone Racing – Aaron Seton (#34) & Jayden Ojeda (#35)
MSR has gambled on a rookie to partner Jack LeBrocq with third-generation racer Aaron Seton moving up from the team’s Super 2 program. This is a big step for Seton who has raced TCM before embarking on a Supercars career. He sits in seventh place in the 2022 Super 2 Championship and will be one of many Super 2 drivers to perform double duties. This will be a test for Seton to see if he has got what it takes.
Over with Todd Hazelwood is Jason Ojeda. “Juice” is in for his third consecutive Bathurst 1000 start, the second with Matt Stone Racing. Ojeda had a tough introduction to the Mountain in 2020 crashing in several on-track sessions in the GRM Wildcard Commodore, but he has put all that behind him and is looking to offer good support to Hazelwood.
Aaron Seton C-
Jayden Ojeda C
PremiAir Racing – Cameron Hill (#22) & Dylan O’Keefe (#31)
There is no doubt that the #22 Coke Commodore of Chris Pither and Cameron Hill will be a favourite of lead Supercars commentator Neil Crompton, but will this team achieve what Crompton and Gardner did back in 1995? Probably not. Cameron Hill is a good pick. He has been well tutored by Triple Eight Engineering and is ‘on loan’ to the customer PremiAir Hire team. His progression to this co-driving role at the Bathurst 1000 is textbook. Formula Ford, Toyota 86, Porsche Carrera Cup and Super 2. Clean and fast, he will complement Pither well.
On the other side of the garage is another young gun with a good pedigree. Dylan O’Keefe makes his third Bathurst 1000 and the second with this team albeit in its new guise. O’Keeffe has had success in Porsche Carrea Cup and will pair up with James Golding in the #31 Commodore. This team will be tested at Bathurst as it is their first enduro, but the equipment and driver lineup are solid.
Cameron Hill C+
Dylan O’Keefe C+
Super Cheap Auto Racing – Declan Fraser (#888)
Craig Lowndes is back in a Triple Eight Commodore with no pressure on his shoulders. He can simply have a crack at every session and the race itself and enjoy it. Of course, Lowndes being Lowndes he is not doing it for fun. A podium is clearly on his radar. However, he has to tutor and bring Declan Fraser along for the ride. Fraser, like Cameron Hill, is another young driver with Triple Eight Engineering connections so it makes sense for him to get a ride with one of the best. He leads the Super 2 Championship heading into Bathurst and like his peers will run both events. Baptism of fire or shrewd planning by the Banyo team?
It is hard to predict just where this pair will finish up, but Fraser will be part of a very popular team!
Declan Fraser C
Matt Charda Motorsport – Jaylyn Robotham (#118)
In July Matt Chadha Motorsport (MCM) announced an ambitious plan to compete as a wildcard entry in this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 using a Walkinshaw Andretti United-built ZB Commodore. The small Albury-based team has been a regular in the Super 2 for six seasons and believed this was the chance to look at the main game hit out. They have picked a tough stage to do so.
Joining Charda is another Super 2 driver in Jaylan Robotham. The twenty-one-year-old had some experience in Hyundai Excel and Toyota 86 before moving to the Super 3 and winning it in 2020. A move into the Dunlop Super 2 series followed.
What can be the goal of this team? To finish on the lead lap, or indeed to finish. That would be like a win.
Jaylan Robotham D
Erebus Motorsport / Boost Mobile – Greg Murphy (#51)
This is the second attempt to put Richie Stanaway and Greg Murphy on the Bathurst 1000 grid after CoVid restrictions scuttled their 2021 plans. Few thought that Greg Murphy would be the Co-driver, but true to our preview, he is the focus.
Some test days at Winton in the Erebus Commodore, plus some racing and rallying back home in New Zealand have kept Murphy fit and keen to get back to Bathurst. Are he and Stanaway really contenders? Probably not but like his old mate in car 888, Murphy will attract huge attention and will be a fan favourite.
Bathurst is a special place for Murph. He has won the Great Race four times during a stellar Supercars career. As the author was one of those who stepped into Pit Lane after the ‘Lap of The Gods’ back in 2003, we have played our own Wildcard and rated Murphy a N/A.
He will be great to watch in 2022.
Greg Murphy N/A