A TWO-DRIVER endurance format has encouraged some of the big names from V8 Supercar competition to join the ranks of the Commodore Cup National Series this Easter long weekend at the Bathurst Motor Festival.
Round Two of the 2011 series will feature two, 45-minute races on the famous Mount Panorama circuit as part of the Bathurst Motor Festival Event; a star-studded driver line-up making the task of picking a winner hugely challenging.
Two of the dominant cars from round one look set to lead the charge, Five-time Commodore Cup champion Geoff Emery signing VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris Motorsports driver Steve Owen to co-drive the NDD-sponsored car whilst round one victor Tony Bates looks to have secured Fujitsu leading light David Russell to share the sportsalive.com entry.
Emery won the first of three races contested in Goulburn last weekend and was unlucky not to get a better result overall – but said his pairing with Owen would raise his chances of success on the Mountain.
“You would have to think that we would be a pretty reasonable combination,” Emery said.
“Steve is the driver of the moment and his performances speak for themselves. We both did the 12 Hour this year and both raced in the Fujitsu and 1000km races at Bathurst last season so we’ve had plenty of miles there recently.
“I would think that the odds favour us going into the race, though there are some pretty strong combinations entered. It should be a great weekend.”
Whilst Owen is the defending Fujitsu series champion, Russell won both series’ races on the Mountain last October and finished fifth outright in a Class B Porsche in the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour, in February.
Meanwhile, former Formula Ford Champion and now Fujitsu racer Tim Blanchard will team with Josh Hughes in the Octane Alley car in yet another formidable combination, Blanchard having made his debut in the series at the Winton round last year – an Event that shared a similar format to the forthcoming Bathurst visit.
And then there are the teams who have, quite literally, kept it in the family.
Adam Lloyd has signed the experienced Ryan McLeod to co-drive his Adam’s Auto Electrics VS, whilst McLeod’s younger brother Gerard will down tools and get behind the wheel of his boss’ Marcus Zukanovic’s Action Racing entry.
“Gerard does an awesome job on the tools for us on both our Commodore Cup and V8 Supercar entries,” Zukanovic said.
“It’s good to give him a chance to get behind the wheel and have a steer. Anyone who saw how hard he drove the little Astra in the Bathurst 12 hour earlier this year will know how good he is. I think we have a strong combo for Bathurst and we’re going there with a real chance of winning – and he’s pretty keen to knock off his older brother, too!”
Ryan and Gerard are sons of Peter McLeod, who teamed with Peter Brock and David Parsons to win the famous 1987 Bathurst 1000.
Continuing the game of Family ties, Danny Buzadzic (A first cousin to Marcus Zukanovic) has scored the rapid Nick Parker in a combo that could fly under the radar all weekend, whilst Victorian brothers Jason and Craig Domaschenz – former winners in the category – will share the brotherly love as they seek a Bathurst round win.
And whilst several teams have reached outside the tight Commodore Cup fraternity in their search for a ‘gun’ co-driver, several have kept it in house and have veteran hands at driving the 4.2-litre Holden V8 powered cars at full noise.
Reigning champion Adam Beechey has tabbed former champion Dean Crosswell to share the Numero Uno Donut King racer, whilst one of the fastest drivers from the opening round – Matt Hayes – has locked in Christian D’Agostin to draw on his extensive Mountain experience. Fellow young-gun Matt Chick has scored 2010 Commodore Cup race winner Scott Andrews to share the Number 7 Renaissance Homes car. Chris Stevenson will have Kane Millier sharing his Arial Motors Racing VS.
An expected 18-strong field will also feature three teams from the Top End – including more family-based combos in the form of David and Steven Ling and the father-son combo of Alan and Chris Langworthy - in their VH Commodores.
The two, 45-minute races will be contested over the Saturday and Sunday of the Bathurst Motor Festival Event, to be held across the Easter long weekend.
For more information about the series head to www.commodorecup.com.au.