'Mucking' with Bathurst tradition

By Briar Gunther 11:16 AM Tue 27 April, 2010 Source: BigPond Sport

Team BOC driver Jason Richards has questioned a move to keep full-time drivers in their own cars for this year's enduros, saying it is "mucking around" with Bathurst tradition.

V8 Supercars Australia introduced a rule for this year's endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst where full-time drivers must drive in their own car.

This is to even out the field, countering concerns that only a handful of cars with two star full-time drivers can win the events an in particular the iconic Bathurst 1000.

But Richards, who with Cam McConville finished runner-up to the Toll Holden Racing Team at last year's Bathurst, is against the change.

"In terms of the format change, we're mucking around with tradition here," he said.

"At no point in the history of Bathurst were you prevented from picking your teammate as co-driver.

"You can't tell me that it hasn't been exciting racing in the past and I don't think this new format is going to add much to it."

Richards teams up with Andrew Jones for this year's L&H 500 and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 races and said seat time for co-drivers in the lead up to the races will be crucial.

"With this new format, seat time is the most important thing in a co-driver because the reality is there are only a couple of guys around with much main-game experience," he said.

"I'm very fortunate that Andy's one of them. He's driven my car already this year and raced for BJR not so long ago, so he's fully up to speed."

Richards said he had finished second at Bathurst too many times and nothing less than a win would satisfy him.

"I've done everything I needed to do except actually cross the line first and that's my only aim this year," the Team BOC driver said.

"Bathurst is by far my most successful race consistently; it's the team's most successful race consistently and I've got the added advantage of having Andy as a team mate, who has that much more experience than the rest of the endurance drivers."

Jones noted that BJR tended to go well at the enduros.

"But the thing is they don't do anything differently for those events; it just seems that the longer the race, the more factors come into it and we usually go quite well," he said.

"I don't think this year will be any different.

"I definitely think I'm in a terrific position; I've got a real chance of winning the race."

BJR has also locked in Matt Halliday as Jason Bright's co-driver in the #14 Trading Post Racing Commodore.

Halliday already has a history with Bright, driving for Bright's Britek team at the 2008 enduros.

"There's no one I would prefer to be with actually," the Porsche Supercup competitor said.

"I have a really busy schedule of racing all over the world this year but the enduros are two of the best races in the world and the interest in them from drivers is very high.

"I had a date clash last year and it was quite painful missing out so it was high on my list of priorities to sign a good deal this year."

Halliday observed that BJR was a tight-knit team.

"As far as Bathurst is concerned, BJR has had a strong run there for the last few years and we're going there to try to win it," he said.

Bright says this is one of his best chances in recent times to win his second Bathurst 1000.

"This year is a bit different because of the new rules preventing teammates driving together," he said.

"Now drivers outside the championship don't have to compete against regular drivers for a seat, which makes the choice far less difficult as far as I'm concerned because it's the same for everyone.

"Matt did a good job for us in 2008 and I thought that he did a good job at FPR. He's got some good experience in V8s in good cars and has been to Bathurst a few times. He's been quick and he didn't require a lot of laps to do it."

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