2020 V8SCOPS Phillip Island 500 – Fearless Predictions

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With the opening leg of the 2020 V8SCOPS Endurance Cup, the Phillip Island 500, just a day away, it’s time for our expert panel to reveal their fearless predictions.

IMAGES: Clint Smith, Leigh Ellis, Apex Imagery

 

Lachlan Mansell – Sim Racing Oz editor

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

Dayne is one of the world’s fastest sim racers while Madison is consistent, intelligent and not lacking in the speed department. TTR is coming off the back of a strategically-crafted 1-2 finish in the previous round at Virginia, so this car has all the hallmarks of a race favourite.

 

2: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

Fawzan is coming good at the right time of the year and establishing himself as one of the main contenders for the V8SCOPS title, while Harley is always quick, if prone to a bit of inconsistency. Provided they don’t get caught up in any incidents, they will be up the pointy end.

 

3: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing

The Evolution Racing Team has a stout record when it comes to endurance events, and this car has a good mixture of youth and experience.

 

Look for: Adam Briggs/Andrew Dyson – DPR Racing

They may not quite have the outright pace of some other outfits, but the DPR squad boasts drivers who are consistent and a team that’s able to make well-judged strategic decisions, so look for this car to potentially spring a surprise.

 

Ryan Jones – Sim Racing Oz reporter

1: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

Fawzan has recorded a top 10 in every start so far this season and while Haber has struggled a bit to record consistent finishes, he has overcome this with four top-fives to his name. The experience/consistency of El-Nabi matched with Haber’s raw pace should come together quite nicely.

 

2: Josh Anderson/Ethan Warren – Casual Meeting Place Racing

On paper it doesn’t look great, Ethan sits 14th in the championship having picked up just four top-10s from 11 starts while Anderson has only started one race. However, these two teaming up might just be a winning combination, their talent is undeniable, and one could theorise that they may have the resources of Vendaval (Anderson’s current team) to give them a leg up.

 

3: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

Another combination which on paper doesn’t look flash hot, Moloney has just three top-10s and Hamstead has started only six races (all of which were top 10s, mind you). Look back to last year and there is a striking similarity; heading into the 2019 Endurance Cup, Moloney sat 34th and Hamstead 20th in the standings, but went on to win the Endurance Cup, so they’ve proven their ability to lift for the long-distance races.

 

Look for: Brett Loxton/Thomas Hinss – Zuver Racing

Hinss is enjoying a brilliant season which sees him in fifth place on the leader board and it has largely been his consistency that’s enabled the stellar run. On the flip side the stats sheet isn’t so nice to Loxton this year, however he works hard and knows how to make the best of a bad situation.

Rhys Gardiner – V8SCOPS series commentator

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

2: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing

3: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

Look for: Andrew Gilliam/Michael Talijancich – Pursuit Sim Racing

 

I fully expect to be proven wrong on race day, but I cannot count out Trans Tasman taking up two of the podium spots. Down and Hamstead are two of the greatest drivers this championship has ever seen, and are top of the list for enduro team leaders. To boot, Hammer is joined by long time teammate and associate Jake Moloney – a consistent and fast pairing. But Dayne Warren joining Madison Down? On pace, that is a hard pairing to beat. On race runs, even harder.

Evolution Racing Team have fallen out of focus recently, but enduros have traditionally been a happy hunting ground for them. Jordan Caruso is certainly not as experienced in this series as others, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance and has the formidable Ethan Grigg-Gault alongside him. I hope they put on a great performance.

My Dark Horse is Gilly and Tally. Andrew breaking through for his first wins this season has certainly lifted spirits at Pursuit, so he should be on pace with the leaders, and Michael Talijancich is a driver I would count on as an enduro teammate any day!

Jake Sparey – V8SCOPS series commentator

1: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

The formbook doesn’t matter. Even when a team has the best drivers on paper, the race isn’t won on paper in an enduro. With two drivers who have proven to be on par with the in-form drivers, I think Hamstead and Moloney can really ruffle some feathers at Philip Island.

 

2: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

Fawzan and Harley are a fantastic duo, with the net championship leader joined by a driver who when pushed into a top level position, can go and make life as tough as trying to milk an almond.

 

3: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing

ERT need to prove something in a quiet season by their standards. Out of any title hunt, there is no pressure on them. Caruso has proven a match top drivers and Ethan is a very good driver; this team is poised to do well.

 

Look for: Corey Shepherd/Clint Smith – Premier Racing Team

Corey Shepherd is knocking on the door of some great results and of the mid-pack runners, Clint Smith is a dependable second driver who will keep the car clean for the run home. With a little fortune, I see a top-six result as a legitimate target.

 

Mike Koroleff – V8SCOPS admin

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

Madison’s strategy game put him in the prime position to use his speed and skill to wrestle the win away from his team mate in the late stages of the last round of SCOPS at VIR, combine that with his calculating, analytical approach to racecraft and he is never out of the hunt for a win. If he can impart that onto Dayne… this becomes one of the strongest pairings for the Enduro Championship.

 

2: Richard Hamstead/Jake Moloney – Trans Tasman Racing

One thinks that had Richard still been in TTL the #28 may have had the elbows out a little wider at VIR last round. Combined with Jake’s ability to assert his position on the road, who can forget Interlagos… this driver combination has a certain street fighter muscle that makes them an attractive proposition  come Phillip Island and beyond. Both are fast and calculating in strategy and racecraft and will happily harass their opponent into a mistake to gain position if speed isn’t on their side.

 

3: Ethan Grigg-Gault/Jordan Caruso – Evolution Racing

Perhaps a surprising choice, but it’s easy to forget, Ethan challenged for a championship last year, and but for two tiny mistakes would be a duel winner this year already. Add to that the cruel disconnect from a podium at VIR and the 2020 leader board could look very different. One should never underestimate the drive of this quiet, yet deceptively quick young man. The question will be, can Jordan bring his “A” game to PI? If he can, there is no doubt that they will play a factor with solid, on the fly strategy always emerging from the ERT bunker.

 

Look for: James Scott/Cooper Webster, Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber, Jordan Ross/Kyle Stokes.

Beau Albert – SimSpeed TV commentator and Altus eSports driver

1: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

Fawzan is arguably the form driver in SCOPS right now punching in some consistently good results, which is reflected in the championship standings. He finds himself alongside Harley Haber who started the season off particularly strong. Despite falling back slightly in recent rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the enduro season reignite a spark of motivation for Harley to search for those extra tenths.

 

2: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Racing

Madison is that driver that you would be foolish to count out of any race regardless of where they start; as TTR and Madison showed at VIR, their ability to work the race strategy in their favour is as sharp as ever. And then you pair him up with PESC competitor Dayne Warren who, on his day, is merely untouchable as Road Atlanta proved earlier this year… When this line-up was announced, it turned a lot of heads and I don’t think it’s too hard to see why. Anything less than a podium from this combo would be seen as a shock.

 

3: James Scott/Cooper Webster – Altus eSports

James Scott has been a front-running force this season after blasting out of the starting blocks with a win on Canadian soil. While James has been under the weather in the leadup to this weekend, my conversations with him lead me to believe he is more motivated for success than ever before. Sharing the seat with him is the second-youngest V8SCOPS race winner in the form of Cooper Webster. While we haven’t seen much from Cooper this season with other commitments, he has shown some incredible speed so, with a high focus on the supercar over the next weeks, he could find more speed within himself than most others.

 

Look for: Blake Purdie/Jobe Stewart – Pursuit Sim Racing

Blake is a real up-and-coming star of SCOPS competition, going as far as receiving the West End Mazda Award last season as ‘One to Watch’ and I don’t think that award was misplaced. Blake has a bucketful of potential that just has not been fully realised yet, and will partner with the capable hands of Jobe Stewart, who has a habit of finding speed in almost anything he drives.

Jay Kennedy – SimSpeed TV producer

1: Madison Down/Dayne Warren – Trans Tasman Motorsport

2: Fawzan El-Nabi/Harley Haber – United Sim Sports

3: James Scott/Cooper Webster – Altus eSports

Look for: Andrew Gilliam/Michael Talijancich – Pursuit Sim Racing

 

All-star pairings will be the favourites with all three picks being true A drivers and V8SCOPS race winners.

The dark horse is the Gilliam/Talijancich Pursuit Sim Racing entry. Gilliam will be full of confidence after his maiden round win and will provide pace, matched with Mike’s fuel conservation and strategy nous, creating a great opportunity for Pursuit Sim Racing to score an enduro win.

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