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Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

Looking ahead: Why 2016 promises so much

204lookingahead2016

The 2016 V8 Supercars season shapes as one of the most intriguing in recent times, as the new-look grid shuffles up the pack and new race formats spice up the action.

The following editorial looks ahead to 2016 and features in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #90, which also includes the 2016 Castrol EDGE V8 Supercars calendar in the print edition.

Issue #90 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.

CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #90.

The silliest V8 Supercars silly season sees no less than five race winners on the move and over one-third of the entries on the grid changing in some form or another.

As the grid is finalised with Shane van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, Will Davison, James Moffat, Tim Slade, David Reynolds and more on the move and teams such as Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske expanding, there's a lot to look forward to...

Triple Eight now boasts three of the leading lights in the series; Coulthard will look to lead an ever-improving DJR Team Penske; Davison, Slade and Moffat have the chance to revitalise their careers in teams that seem a better fit for them; while Reynolds has the chance to act as a team leader away from the shadow of high-profile teammates.

Speaking of, teammate rivalries will be intense into 2016! Consider the following:

Jamie Whincup versus van Gisbergen; two of the most naturally talented drivers in van Gisbergen's first season with Triple Eight and with Whincup determined to bounce back from his worst season since 2006. And throw in the evergreen Craig Lowndes, freed in the second garage.

Mark Winterbottom versus Chaz Mostert; the latter's Bathurst crash deprived us of a fascinating inter-team championship battle in 2015. The recovered Mostert will be determined to make amends, getting back into the swing of challenging his more experienced teammate.

Garth Tander versus James Courtney; the Holden Racing Team duo swapped paint throughout the 2015 season. And as the team edges closer to a more consistent championship tilt, expect more of the same in their sixth consecutive season as teammates.

Coulthard versus Scott Pye; the incoming Kiwi is determined to breakthrough for a championship challenge against the established young gun, within a team that will look to be at the pointy end of the grid in its second season.

Scott McLaughlin versus Moffat; the close friends will go head-to-head in the most competitive pairing in the Volvo Polestar S60s.

Meanwhile, as we saw at Hidden Valley in 2015, where the resurfaced circuit delivered plenty of grip... more grip gives drivers more confidence... more confidence and they are more tempted to attack.

The soft tyre will be the standard rubber in 2016; to be used for all championship races except the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, where the high loads are better suited to the more durable hard tyre.

The higher grip yet higher degrading tyres suit the longer formats in 2016; a 120km race on the Saturday of each SuperSprint event, replacing two 60km races, with a compulsory pitstop for a minimum change of four tyres.

Rather than the sprints we saw in 2015, with little grip, no degradation and results so heavily influenced by qualifying, there will be more variables to races in 2016.

In terms of events, forget Adelaide, Townsville, the Gold Coast and Sydney; Kuala Lumpur will be the most unforgiving, car-crunching street circuit on the calendar in 2016.

The six-car exhibition from 2015 was just a taste of the narrow yet fast circuit that winds its way through the Malaysian capital. Throw in the heat and humidity and four 100km sprint races without the aid of pit strategy and the event promises action-packed racing.

A punishing street circuit right in the heart of one of Asia's most vibrant and an economically important city could revive V8 Supercars' international presence after so many false starts.

Bring on the 2016 season!

CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #90.