V8-Supercar-Logo

So just who are these 18 international drivers who’ve signed up to compete in the Armor All 600 V8 Supercars event scheduled be held on the Gold Coast later this year?

These 18 top-line drivers hail from all car-racing circles, and have achieved particular success in the fields of Formula 1, USA-based open-wheelers, and touring cars.

Our resident IndyCar writer Matt Lennon and I sat down to compile the following driver profiles. Just who do you think will shine?

Sebastien Bourdais

Sébastien Bourdais (Dick Johnson Racing)

Rising through the junior motorsport categories seemingly toward Formula 1, Sébastien was offered a drive at the pinnacle of motorsport with Arrows, however, the Leafield-based squad was mired in bankruptcy struggles. Sébastien’s career took a detour, across the Atlantic, to the USA, and into the reformed Champ Car World Series.

With Newman Haas Racing  Sébastien rewrote all the record books, dominated the next 5 seasons, winning 31 races, scoring 31 pole positions, winning over 42% of all the races he started, and most importantly, becoming the first man in American open-wheel history to win 4 top-flight championships in succession.

Sébastien finally earned that opportunity to compete in F1, signing with Toro Rosso for the 2008 season. Sadly, his performances in F1 failed to live up to expectations and he joined the list of former Stateside drivers unable to translate their success into the F1 world, his contract with Toro Rosso was terminated mid-2009.

David Brabham (Irwin Racing)

The youngest of Sir Jack’s three sons, David’s talent was clear for many to see when he won the British F3 championship in 1989, graduating to the eponymous Brabham F1 team in 1990. He succeeded in qualifying the Judd-powered car just six times in fourteen attempts, and was replaced by season’s end.

David Brabham

David’s second tilt at F1 came with the back-of-the-grid Simtek team, where David tirelessly toiled in a tough season where his team-mate Roland Ratzenberger was killed on the same weekend as Ayrton Senna.

David’s principle successes have occurred in sports car racing, where he won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot and was also crowned the 2009 American Le Mans Series champion.

Ryan Briscoe (TOLL Holden Racing Team)

Like many, Ryan began his racing career in karting, and quickly graduated through junior formulae in Australia and Europe, to become the Toyota Formula 1 team’s test driver in 2002, while racing in Formula 3000.

Ryan Briscoe

With no 2005 F1 drive on offer, Briscoe turned stateside and joined Ganassi racing in the IndyCar Series. After a monstrous accident that year in Chicago which took Briscoe 8 weeks to recover, he has re-established himself as a powerful force in American open-wheel racing.

Scott Dixon (Jack Daniel’s Racing)

The likable, baby-faced Kiwi quickly succeeded through several trans-Tasman categories and in 1999, moved to the Indy Lights series in America, where in 2000, he became the series’ second-youngest champion. Progressing to CART also with Pac-West, Dixon immediately out-paced his far more experienced team-mate Mauricio Gugelmin, Soon a winner, Dixon was poached by Chip Ganassi where he has remained ever since. With Ganassi, Dixon flourished, and has since won two IndyCar Series Titles and the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

Scott Dixon
Dario Franchitti

Dario Franchitti (Jim Beam Racing)

With the exception of the 2008 IndyCar exhibition race held at Surfers Paradise, Dario Franchitti will compete in this event for the first time since 2002.

The British driver with the most race wins in US open-wheel history, Dario is a two-time IndyCar Series champion, and the 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner and is married to Golden-Globe nominated actress Ashley Judd.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Wilson Security Racing)

A contemporary of Michael Schumacher, Frentzen was paired with the German in the Sauber Mercedes World Sports Car programme, before heading to the Japanese F3000 championship. Making his debut with Sauber in 1994, he proved his pace with some excellent drives in the mid-grid cars, and was promoted to Williams in 1997 as Jacques Villeneuve’s team-mate, winning at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen

The Williams project sadly failed to gel, and Frentzen was cast aside and snatched up by Jordan for 1999, where he had a brilliant season with two victories and was a championship contender until the final few rounds when the momentum faltered. Sadly, the following seasons spent with Jordan, Arrows, Prost and Sauber yielded little, and he ventured to the DTM series

Fabrizio Giovanardi (Brad Jones Racing)

V8 fans may know of Fabrizio from his guest-driving roles with Triple-8 Racing in previous years’ endurance races, and his eight touring car championship titles will put him in good stead for the weekend’s racing activities.

Patrick Long (Fujitsu Racing GRM)

A Californian-born racing driver, Long has earned class victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans races. He currently competes in the American Le Mans Series’ GT3 class, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team.

Alain Menu (Brad Jones Racing)

A two-time British Touring Car Champion and one of the 1990s most successful tin-top racers, Alain is a stalwart of the World Touring Car Championship with Chevrolet. He has achieved eleven race victories with the RML team in the WTCC, and is one of the championship’s most successful drivers.

Alain Menu
Tiago Monteiro

Tiago Monteiro (Centaur Racing)

Tiago Monteiro is the most successful Portuguese driver in F1’s history, competing in two season with the Jordan and Midland teams. Tiago set and continues to hold the record for the most race finishes in a Formula 1 season, with 18.

He will return to Surfers Paradise for the first time since his Champ Car year with Fittipaldi Dingman Racing in 2003. He currently races for SEAT in the World Touring Car Championship.

Gianni Morbidelli (Triple F Racing)

Our inaugural interviewee, Gianni has had a lengthy motorsport career, with stints in Formula 1, Speedcars and touring cars. He has won the Italian Superstars championship for three years on the trot with BMW, and beat a host of his former F1 contemporaries in the 2008-9 Speedcar Series to take the title as well.

Yvan Muller (Paul Morris Motorsport)

Like Fabrizio Giovanardi, Muller should be familiar to V8 Supercars fans as a guest driver for Triple-8 Racing over the past few seasons – he actually won the 2005 Sandown 500, co-driving with Craig Lowndes.

Now a World Touring Car Championship regular, Muller has consistently been a championship front-runner, and took the 2008 title at the final round. He now drives for Chevrolet, winning on debut at the season-opening Curitiba round.

Will Power (Ford Performance Racing)

The local favourite, who grew up about a 3-hour drive from Surfers Paradise, in Toowoomba, Power has firmly established himself in the US as a favourite for the 2010 Indycar Series Championship. Winning the first two races of the season, and qualifying on pole for 3 out of the first four races, Power is the current series points leader. Surfers Paradise is unfinished business for Will. With three consecutive pole positions, and all three times failing to finish, you can bet Power will be out to right this wrong next time out, despite this time racing in a V8 Supercar.

Andy Priaulx

Andy Priaulx (Team Vodafone)

One of the  true gentlemen of motorsport, the Guernseyman is a European Touring Car Champion and three-time World Touring Car Champion. Also having performed a guest driving role with V8 Supercars in the past, he is well-experienced on Australian soil and popular with his peers and fans alike.

Scott Pruett (Lucas Dumbrell Racing)

From 1988 to 1999, Scott Pruett made 145 starts in the CART World Series, driving for a multitude of teams. His two victories came at the 1995 Michigan 500, and in 1997 at the Surfers Paradise event. After retiring from CART, Pruett moved into stock car and NASCAR events, winning the 24-Hour Du Mans in the LMGTS class. A favourite among the fans, Pruett returns to Surfers Paradise for the first time in over 10 years.

Mika Salo (Bundaberg Red Racing Team)

Perhaps best known for his days in Formula 1 with Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows, Sauber, BAR, Ferrari and Toyota, Mika Salo has raced at Surfers Paradise once before, in 2003, finishing 11th. Following his retirement from Formula 1, Salo kept busy with ALMS Endurance racing in Europe. He has now turned his attention to GT racing.

Mika Salo

Alex Tagliani (Kelly Racing)

Coming into CART with the heavy burden of being the man to take the race seat following the death of Greg Moore, Alex Tagliani has gone from strength to strength. Loyal to the Champ Car Series until the end, ‘Tags’ is welcomed back to Surfers Paradise as an adopted local boy, as his wife Bronte is Australian. Tagliani currently races in the IndyCar Series for the new FAZZT race team.

Jacques Villeneuve (Bottle-O Racing)

The 1995 CART Series Champion, Indy 500 winner and 1997 Formula One World Champion returns to Surfers Paradise as a driver for the first time since his CART Series title-winning days of 1995. Whilst already in the record books for his plethora of achievements, Villeneuve is aiming to be the first man since Graham Hill to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport ( that being the 24-Hours of Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix).

Jacques Villeneuve

[Original images via The Cahier Archive, Zimbio, Rawfish, Auto Trader]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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