Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ben Collins Race In V8 Enduros, Stig coming to drive at Bathurst?

On popular motor sports betting show Top Gear, some say he is the anonymous driver called "The Stig". All we know is he's competing in this year's V8 Super car endurance races.

On Wednesday, Jack Daniel's Racing announced English endurance racing specialist Ben Collins will pair up with veteran Nathan Pretty in the team's No.15 Holden for the annual endurance races at Bathurst and Phillip Island.

Collins, a professional stunt driver, has long been rumoured to be the Stig, with English newspaper The Telegraph claiming he had mistakenly outed himself in January.

The show fiercely guards the identity of the Stig and it's believed Collins could be sacked if he did admit he was the popular character.

The first Stig, stunt driver Perry McCarthy, lost the job after outing himself in his book Flat Out, Flat Broke, published in 2002.

Regardless of his secret identity, Collins will definitely be behind the wheel at this year's Bathurst 1000 and Phillip Island 500 events.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to race in V8 Supercars with Jack Daniel's Racing," Collins said.

"Phillip Island and Bathurst are two circuits that every driver would love to get the chance to race on, especially Bathurst, which is such a famous race.

"I drove a Holden V8 Supercar earlier this year and these cars are sensational. They're very demanding and the level of talent and professionalism in this category is very high."

Collins, who worked as stunt driver on the latest James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, comes to Australia with extensive racing experience.

Among the 34-year-old's achievements are testing sessions with Formula One team Ascari and the American Red Bull NASCAR team.

Todd Kelly, who will partner brother Rick in the team's other car, said he was delighted to have such an experienced crew in their second vehicle.

"Endurance races like Phillip Island and Bathurst require a combination of pace and consistency, especially when it comes to 161 laps at Mount Panorama," Kelly said.

"Ben has achieved a lot in endurance style racing and he will be a real asset to our team as we tackle our first endurance events.
"It's fitting that he's paired with Nathan because the two of them are both noted endurance specialists.

"It's great to have two guys with such pedigree in our No.15 Jack Daniel's Commodore." The Kelly brothers finished second at both Bathurst and Phillip Island the last time they teamed up in 2006 and two-time Bathurst winner Rick Kelly said the pair are confident of a good result.

"The endurance races have been a major focus for our team and Todd and I can't wait to team up again," he said. "When we ran together in 2006 we finished second at both enduros, so we've definitely got some unfinished business this year."

This year's endurance races begin with the Phillip Island 500 from September 11-13 before the Bathurst 1000 is held from October 8-11.

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