ADELAIDE 500: THE STREET RACE’S LEGACY
W O N N O I T A R E GEN ORE
M & Y E N E E F C O R B I, K C ROWN, BRODIE KOSTE
THE RISE OF WILL B
FEATURING shane van gisbergen: going nascar silly season: who goes where in 2024
2023 Supercars Season Review bathurst 1000: the enduro in review
ISSUE #131 SUPERCARXTRA.COM.AU INCORPORATING V8X MAGAZINE PUBLISHER 5 SEASON IN REVIEW A look back at the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship. 13 GENERATION NOW! The generation change that’s happened over the 2023 season. 19 SVG GOES NASCAR Shane van Gisbergen’s winning debut and move to NASCAR.
25 THE NEW LOOK SUPERCAR How the Gen3 cars rolled out in 2023 and the impact it had on Supercars. 31 WHO GOES WHERE IN 2024 A team-by-team look at the driver changes on the Supercars grid in 2024. 37 HOMETOWN HERO Nick Percat on racing on home soil in Adelaide and his team move in 2024.
43 THE ADELAIDE 500 LEGACY The importance of the Adelaide 500 to Supercars. 53 BATHURST IN REVIEW A look back at the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000.
Allan Edwards Raamen Pty Ltd trading as V8X PO Box 225, Keilor, VIC 3036 email@example.com EDITOR Adrian Musolino firstname.lastname@example.org SUB EDITOR Amanda Cobb DESIGNER Thao Trinh PHOTOGRAPHERS Peter Norton, Autopics.com.au, Glenis Lindley, James Baker, Ben Auld, Justin Deeley, Mark Horsburgh, P1 Images, Paul Nathan, Scott Wensley, Danny Bourke, Matthew Norton, Jack Martin ADVERTISING Allan Edwards Phone: (03) 9372 9125 EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Phone: (03) 9372 9125 email@example.com ACCOUNTS Bookkeeper: Mark Frauenfelder firstname.lastname@example.org MERCHANDISE & SUBSCRIPTIONS Phone: (03) 9372 9125 email@example.com Published by Raamen Pty Ltd trading as V8X. Material in Supercar Xtra is protected by copyright laws and may not be reproduced in full or in part in any format. Supercar Xtra will consider unsolicited articles and pictures; however, no responsibility will be taken for their return. While all efforts are taken to verify information in Supercar Xtra is factual, no responsibility will be taken for any material which is later found to be false or misleading. The opinions of the contributors are not always those of the publishers.
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SEASON IN REVIEW
It has been a season of drama and controversy, of new talent taking on the established drivers, and new cars changing the complexion of the championship. This is how the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship played out. SUPERCAR XTRA
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Erebus Motorsport emerged from the pack to become championship contenders across both its cars in 2023.
The Gen3 era started with the controversial disqualification of the first and second-placed Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaros of Shane van Gisbergen and Broc Feeney. The pair dominated the opening race of the new era in Newcastle, but the team had installed a second driver cooling system in the car, which was deemed a technical breach of the new and much tighter rules. That left Cameron Waters as the winner of the first race of 2023 in his Tickford Racing Ford Mustang, a nice mark for the record books. Brodie Kostecki hinted at what would come with a podium from pole position, with Chaz Mostert putting the first-ever Walkinshaw Andretti United Ford into second place. The Sunday race had David Reynolds on pole in the Grove Racing Mustang, and he ran to the flag in third behind van Gisbergen and Mostert. Waters was flying when an innocuous touch with the wall damaged the steering on his Mustang and robbed him of the chance of another win. With James Courtney hitting the wall in the Shootout and Declan Fraser slamming into the wall on the start, Tickford Racing was getting plenty of experience repairing the new race cars.
Kostecki won his first two races in a Supercar by greeting the chequered flag first in the Friday and Saturday races, while van Gisbergen and Feeney won the other two races. Kostecki made the podium in all four races and took the lead in the championship while his main rivals enjoyed mixed weekends, as the Camaros took all the podium slots and three of the four pole positions. Anton De Pasquale was the best performer of the Fords with pole position for the first race of the round, but he failed to capitalise. It was a pretty tough weekend for the Blue Oval, with first Nick Percat’s Mustang catching fire on Friday and then Courtney’s doing the same on Saturday. Immediate overnight changes were
initiated to try and prevent fiery Fords, with one such step being a rolling start for Sunday. The racing thrilled the huge crowds, but the Friday race was slashed in half after safety cars for Reynolds (in the sand at Turn 1) and Percat (on fire in the pits), meaning it couldn’t run the distance before the track needed to be reset for Formula 1 practice.
The Erebus Motorsport and Triple Eight Race Engineering battle continued in Perth, with pole-to-flag wins for each of van Gisbergen, Will Brown and Feeney. The demanding track on the northern outskirts of Perth delivered some great racing and some heated discussion off the track. The van Gisbergen and Kostecki battle put some heat under the collar of Erebus boss Barry Ryan, who asked the stewards to review a passing move by van Gisbergen that involved a tap-and-run. Van Gisbergen was cleared of any wrongdoing. Brown put himself in the championship picture with his first win of the year when he dominated Sunday’s first race from Kostecki, who claimed another three podiums to extend his championship lead. Reynolds and Courtney represented Ford on the podium.
Tasmania’s bullring Symmons Plains saw Brown capitalise with a pole position and two wins to edge closer to the championship lead held by Kostecki, who, for the first time since Newcastle, missed a podium… but only once. A chaotic third lap of the first race had championship consequences when first Waters collected Kostecki during a move at the hairpin, and at the same time, a few spots further back, Feeney did the same to Mostert. Waters eventually dropped away, while André Heimgartner and van Gisbergen filled the podium slots. The Fords were completely absent from the champagne shaking
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The new Ford Mustang struggled to match the pace of the Chevrolet Camaro for much of the season.
again. Still, some were arguing the woes were self-induced after the fastest Ford, Waters, collected each of the Dick Johnson Racing Mustangs during one qualifying session. Courtney and van Gisbergen had identical crashes in separate races after breaking their steering after outside runs at the end of the back straight.
DARWIN TRIPLE CROWN
Hidden Valley in Darwin for Supercars’ Indigenous round turned up the two biggest surprises of the new era, with first-up team wins to Team 18 and Matt Stone Racing. Waters led from the pole in the Saturday race and looked set for Ford’s first on-track win of the season when fire engulfed his Mustang, handing control of the race to Team 18’s Mark Winterbottom, who recorded his first win for General Motors and his first since 2016. He won the race from Feeney and Will Davison. Then, on Sunday, Feeney dominated for his third pole-to-flag win of the season. Van Gisbergen eventually passed Heimgartner for second, while the Brad Jones Racing driver recorded another podium. The final race for the weekend was another pole-to-flag win, this time for Jack Le Brocq, who scored his second-ever win and Matt Stone Racing’s first. Heimgartner and Feeney squabbled over the minor places on the podium.
The Townsville 500 was just one week on from van Gisbergen’s historic NASCAR win in Chicago, but the far north Queensland race wasn’t going to give him a repeat. The reigning champ got a great start and launched at polesitter Brown into Turn 2, dragging both wide along with Reynolds, while Waters jumped into the lead as van Gisbergen slapped the wall. Waters had no tyre life and led the first 23 laps before Brown moved into the lead and dominated the race from there on. Points leader Kostecki had gear problems as Feeney and Mostert, on a bold pitstop strategy, filled out the podium. Sunday saw Ford’s first on-track win for 2023 when De Pasquale turned the tyre advantage from an early Saturday finish into victory from Kostecki and Heimgartner. The championship took a turn too, with Brown emerging from the weekend with the lead over Kostecki and with Feeney and van Gisbergen following closely.
Racing under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park saw the championship lead swap back to Kostecki and the gap across the top four shrinking, with every spot changing. The opening laps of the night race were a battle between Kostecki and Brown, with Kostecki eventually coming out on top. The race had plenty of drama with a safety car 13 laps from home bringing the race alive. The Mostert, Waters and Brown battle for second was one for the ages; a three-wide run providing fifth-placed van Gisbergen plenty of entertainment. Mostert came home second and Waters lost third with a penalty for a pitlane infringement. Van Gisbergen also dropped from third with a penalty for a tap-and-run on Brown, who was given the final step on the podium. Sunday’s race was held in the sunshine and Heimgartner took the lead off the front row, but the pole-sitting van Gisbergen was having none of it and took the lead back early on and was never headed. Brown speared off at the first turn on the opening lap after contact to both sides of the car gave him little chance. Van Gisbergen ran out an easy winner, while Heimgartner was equally as comfortable in second. De Pasquale claimed the final step on the podium with a final lap pass on Feeney.
THE BEND SUPERSPRINT
The Fords were surprisingly good at The Bend, the low-degradation nature of the track surface masking the aero imbalance of the Mustangs. Thomas Randle took his first pole position and rattled off a trio of podiums. Ford actually filled all the minor spots on the podium with Mostert (two) and Waters (one) over the weekend. The weekend was a Kostecki master-class, with the young championship leader returning from his NASCAR debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to win all three races and extend his championship lead. If it weren’t for Randle’s Sunday pole, it would’ve been a perfect weekend. At the start of the round, 67 points separated the top four in the title. By the end of it, Kostecki had 137 points over NASCAR-bound van Gisbergen in second. Kostecki had to work hard for the first of the three wins, making his way from third after an early safety car, while Randle and Mostert remained attached for most of the race with Mostert using all his race craft and experience to claim second after Randle claimed he was pushed off the track. Sunday’s first race had Randle in front of Mostert, and the final for the weekend had Waters in front of Randle, while Kostecki dominated and swung the pendulum of the title his way.
The return of the Sandown 500 was treated to a dominant display by the Chevrolet runners, with the first five spots on the road at the end of 500 kilometres falling their way as Ford succumbed to a lack of speed and bizarre failures. Garth Tander, in his first Supercar race in a Ford, lost a wheel 20 laps into the race – denying lead driver Reynolds any laps at all – and that wheel bounced down the track and took the rear wing off the Mustang of Waters and James Moffat. Feeney and Jamie Whincup dominated the race after Whincup proved he still had it with a blistering opening stint, while Feeney paced it home from there with a late race safety car making it interesting but never in doubt. Kostecki and David Russell overcame an early double-stacking to take second spot ahead of van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway, who likewise had to double-stack after van SUPERCAR XTRA
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Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway claimed victory for Triple Eight Race Engineering at Bathurst.
the team’s wildcard entry also fell afoul of the same issue. Kostecki topped the Bathurst Shootout with an impressive lap that was too good for the rest of the top 10. Feeney had qualified in second, but, significantly for the race, Brown missed the Shootout after crashing in qualifying. It left him with a big job in the race, but he was up to the task and had fought his way from 17th to fourth when he handed over to Perkins. The internal team battles were deciding the race with long double stacks eventually taking Brown/Perkins out of contention. Feeney/Whincup were running second when the car failed them before making it to the chequered flag with only Lowndes/Zane Goddard behind them. Kostecki and Russell claimed second and Kostecki retained his championship lead. De Pasquale and Tony D’Alberto gave Ford an unlikely podium after a trouble-free run. Heimgartner had an engine failure and was the first retirement; Moffat slammed into the wall in the Mustang he shared with Waters; Todd Hazelwood had electrical issues and a starter motor fall out; and a last gasp pitstop for fuel wasn’t completed in time for Winterbottom to exit pitlane at the end as 24 of the 28 cars greeted the chequered flag. Gisbergen qualified down the grid. Brown and Jack Perkins made it two Triple Eight and two Erebus cars in the top four, with Heimgartner and Dale Wood rounding out the Camaro domination. Young Grove Racing rookie Matthew Payne with Frenchman Kevin Estre was the first Ford home in sixth.
Kostecki and Russell dominated the lead-up to the race for Erebus, but the race was all about Triple Eight as van Gisbergen (with Stanaway) made it three wins in four years at Bathurst, while a gearbox mount thwarted a Triple Eight quinella when Feeney and Whincup ground to a halt. Craig Lowndes’ run at an eighth Bathurst win in
GOLD COAST 500
Fords came to the fore on the Gold Coast, off the back of a parity adjustment following Bathurst, as the championship battle held sway with a 131-point margin between Kostecki and van Gisbergen. Waters took the win in the Saturday race after holding off a fastfinishing van Gisbergen. With Kostecki in fifth place, van Gisbergen made some ground in the championship standings. Reynolds took the other spot on the podium, in what was the strongest race yet for the revamped Mustang. Reynolds claimed victory in the Sunday race, his first since 2018 and the first for Grove Racing, ahead of Kostecki. With van Gisbergen in fifth, the points gap was back to 131 points.
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2023 SUPERCARS RESULTS THRIFTY NEWCASTLE 500 RACE 1
NED WHISKY TASMANIA SUPERSPRINT RACE 10
1st – Cameron Waters 2nd – Chaz Mostert 3rd – Brodie Kostecki
1st – Will Brown 2nd – André Heimgartner 3rd – Shane van Gisbergen
1st – Shane van Gisbergen 2nd – Chaz Mostert 3rd – David Reynolds
BEAUREPAIRES MELBOURNE SUPERSPRINT RACE 3
1st – Shane van Gisbergen 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – Will Brown
1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Thomas Randle 3rd – Chaz Mostert
1st – Will Brown 2nd – Broc Feeney 3rd – Brodie Kostecki
1st – Mark Winterbottom 2nd – Broc Feeney 3rd – Will Davison
1st – Broc Feeney 2nd – Shane van Gisbergen 3rd – André Heimgartner
1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Shane van Gisbergen 3rd – Will Brown
1st – Broc Feeney 2nd – André Heimgartner 3rd – Brodie Kostecki
BOSCH POWER TOOLS PERTH SUPERSPRINT RACE 7
1st – Shane van Gisbergen 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – David Reynolds 1st – Will Brown 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – James Courtney
1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Cameron Waters 3rd – Thomas Randle
PENRITE OIL SANDOWN 500 RACE 23
1st – Broc Feeney / Jamie Whincup 2nd – Brodie Kostecki / David Russell 3rd – Shane van Gisbergen / Richie Stanaway
REPCO BATHURST 1000 RACE 24
1st – Shane van Gisbergen / Richie Stanaway 2nd – Brodie Kostecki / David Russell 3rd – Anton De Pasquale / Tony D’Alberto
BOOST MOBILE GOLD COAST 500
NTI TOWNSVILLE 500 RACE 16
1st – Cameron Waters 2nd – Shane van Gisbergen 3rd – David Reynolds
1st – David Reynolds 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – Cameron Waters
1st – Will Brown 2nd – Broc Feeney 3rd – Chaz Mostert
VAILO ADELAIDE 500 RACE 27
BEAUREPAIRES SYDNEY SUPERNIGHT
1st – 2nd – 3rd –
1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Chaz Mostert 3rd – Will Brown
1st – 2nd – 3rd –
1st – Broc Feeney 2nd – Will Brown 3rd – Brodie Kostecki
1st – Jack Le Brocq 2nd – André Heimgartner 3rd – Broc Feeney
1st – Anton De Pasquale 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – André Heimgartner
1st – Broc Feeney 2nd – Brodie Kostecki 3rd – Will Brown
1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Shane van Gisbergen 3rd – Broc Feeney
OTR THE BEND SUPERSPRINT 1st – Brodie Kostecki 2nd – Chaz Mostert 3rd – Thomas Randle
BETR DARWIN TRIPLE CROWN
1st – Shane van Gisbergen 2nd – André Heimgartner 3rd – Anton de Pasquale
Scan for the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship points standings.
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Will Brown, Brodie Kostecki and Broc Feeney stepped up into regular race winners and championship contenders in 2023.
A new generation of drivers has risen to the top of Supercars, with the likes of Brodie Kostecki, Will Brown and Broc Feeney stepping up to replace the likes of Shane van Gisbergen at the top of the championship. SUPERCAR XTRA
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hen Broc Feeney crossed the line to win the Adelaide 500 in 2022, it was a case of history repeating. Sixteen years earlier, his team boss and endurance co-driver Jamie Whincup crossed the same finish line to win in his first round with Triple Eight Race Engineering in 2006. The 2022 win may have been at the end of Feeney’s first season with the team, as opposed to the start of the season for Whincup, but there were some obvious parallels. In both cases, it represented a generation change in Supercars. Feeney was only 18 years of age when he was hand-picked to replace the retiring Whincup at Triple Eight for 2022 and beyond. After a meteoric rise that included Super3 and Super2 championship wins, Feeney had big shoes to fill with Whincup rewriting the record books on his way to seven championship wins. Ending his rookie season with a such a convincing win on the punishing streets of Adelaide set the tone for what was to come in 2023, with a changing 62 / 14
of the guard amongst the driver ranks. Before 2023, just three drivers had won the championship dating back to 2016 – Shane van Gisbergen, Whincup and Scott McLaughlin. By the end of 2023, all three would have moved on, accelerating the generation change in Supercars. With Whincup’s retirement and van Gisbergen and McLaughlin’s departures to North America, the likes of Feeney were in prime positions to step up. Helping the generation change was the introduction of the new Gen3 cars in 2023. Younger drivers with less experience in the different previous generation Supercar weren’t as disadvantaged as previously. Amongst the drivers who took their opportunity with the new cars were Erebus Motorsport’s Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown. It was seen as a risk when Erebus Motorsport banked on youth and promoted its young endurance co-drivers Kostecki and Brown into full-time drives for 2021. The duo rewarded the team with pole positions, podiums and race wins, stepping
Cameron Waters, Chaz Mostert, Anton De Pasquale, Jack Le Brocq and André Heimgartner are waiting in the wings for maiden championship wins.
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up into championship contention in the new cars in 2023. After three full-time seasons with Erebus Motorsport, Brown will head to Triple Eight to team with Feeney in place of the NASCAR-bound van Gisbergen in 2024. The Feeney-Brown inter-team rivalry shapes as one of the most intriguing for next season. Feeney and Kostecki were the latest drivers to come off the Norwell Motorplex driving school production line of talent, under the tutelage of former Bathurst 1000 winner and championship regular Paul Morris. Like with Brown, a diverse background in racing a variety of cars and mastering their techniques with regular training and coaching seems to be paying dividends. Just as Whincup raised the bar back in the mid2000s, so too are the new generation in terms of how to achieve success. Kostecki will remain with Erebus Motorsport for 2024 despite his own aspirations of racing in NASCAR, joined at the Chevrolet team by race winner Jack Le Brocq who moves across from Matt Stone Racing.
Le Brocq is amongst a group of race-winning drivers in their late 20s and early 30s who have been around Supercars for some time now but were upstaged by the younger group of Kostecki, Brown and Feeney in 2023. Le Brocq, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters, Anton De Pasquale and André Heimgartner are all race winners but haven’t quite reached the top in terms of the championship. Mostert, Waters and De Pasquale were amongst the contenders in the previous generation cars, leading the line for Walkinshaw Andretti United, Tickford Racing and Dick Johnson Racing respectively. However, they were hobbled in 2023 as the Gen3 Ford Mustang struggled to match the pace of the Chevrolet Camaro. They will be hoping for a reset in 2024, to challenge the likes of Kostecki, Brown and Feeney. Le Brocq and Heimgartner may not have had the expectations of the aforementioned drivers, though they were amongst the most consistent and impressive performers in 2023, exceeding expectations for SUPERCAR XTRA
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Thomas Randle, Matthew Payne, Bryce Fullwood and Cameron Hill are recent graduates into the main game of Supercars.
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Matt Stone Racing and Brad Jones Racing respectively. Le Brocq gave Matt Stone Racing its first win in Supercars this season and will step up at Erebus Motorsport next season, while Heimgartner has established himself as the team leader at Brad Jones Racing and appears on the cusp of being a contender. Other young drivers to watch include Matthew Payne, impressing in his rookie season with Grove Racing in 2023; Thomas Randle, stepping up this season with some breakout performances with Tickford Racing; Cameron Hill, holding his own in his rookie campaign at Matt Stone Racing; and Bryce Fullwood, establishing himself at Brad Jones Racing with some stellar results. Then there is the crop of youngsters making a name for themselves in the Dunlop Super2 and Super3 Series, some of whom have already shown flashes of what they can do in main game and endurance codriver stints in Supercars. Zak Best, Kai Allen, Cooper Murray, Aaron Love and Ryan Wood have been the leading lights in Super2, with the latter a name to keep an eye on. After a rapid
rise through the ranks, New Zealander Wood will partner Mostert at Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2024. Love also moves up into the main game next year, slotting in at the Blanchard Racing Team. Also amongst the next generation are youngsters with famous surnames and connections to the history of Supercars – Jett Johnson (grandson of Dick Johnson and son of Steven Johnson), Nash Morris (son of Paul Morris) and Mason Kelly (son of Todd Kelly). While Morris was a recent graduate into Super2 after winning the Super3 title in 2021, Johnson and Kelly have been learning the ropes in Super3 this season. With the veterans of Supercars such as James Courtney, Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and David Reynolds approaching the end of their fulltime careers, opportunities will inevitably arise for the youngsters making a name for themselves in the second and third tiers of Supercars. When that opportunity comes they will need to take that chance and shine, just as Feeney did in Adelaide in 2022.
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SHANE VAN GISBERGEN
SVG GOES NASCAR
Shane van Gisbergen stunned the motorsport world with victory in his NASCAR debut on the streets of Chicago in July 2023. Now, after dominating Supercars in recent years, he is set to make a full-time move to North America in 2024.
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SHANE VAN GISBERGEN
n Nashville, one week prior to his NASCAR debut in Chicago, Shane van Gisbergen was a curiosity. His pre-Chicago media conference attracted a bit of interest, but more with journalists trying to work out how to pronounce his name… they gave up and just called him SVG. At 1.88-metres tall, van Gisbergen towered over Trackhouse Racing team owner Justin Marks, who is much more racer-sized, and he was humble and understated despite his imposing presence. But like most athletes who have reached the top, there is a burning competitiveness that says they are never there to make up the numbers. No matter what he said. A short test session on the Charlotte Oval told legendary crew chief and Trackhouse technical director Darian Grubb he had something to play with. Van Gisbergen impressed Grubb with his methodical approach to the task, with his ability to explore lines and braking points like few he had ever seen. Then he explored a little more on Chevrolet’s multi-million dollar race simulator, again leaving an impression. Then it was time for the perfect storm, the inaugural Chicago NASCAR street race. NASCAR had never run on the streets of a city before, but it still packed the stands in downtown Chicago with a sell-out crowd of more than 70,000 fans, many new to NASCAR and car racing. In contrast to Adelaide’s brilliant racing surface, there were multiple surface changes in Chicago, from concrete to asphalt and back, sometimes in the middle of a corner. But the simulator captured it all after the track was laser-mapped well in advance of the meeting. On the simulator, he spent time learning the 12 corner, 3.5-kilometre track and he said he could feel everything. He started to plan. Thursday night’s rush hour still had cars in the thousands rolling down South Michigan. On Saturday morning of the two-day meeting, fences were still being erected. And it was hot, stinking hot by the time the NASCARs hit the track for the first time, for one 20-minute practice session before qualifying. Van Gisbergen topped the session and then qualified third after a red flag on his fast lap stopped his charge at pole. He would have been on pole, that lap was so good. Now the curiosity was something of a fascination, and in the media centre the locals were starting to ask questions. But they were still confident that on race day the usual NASCAR racers would beat him up. Joey Logano commented that he’d love to get ‘him’ onto the track at Darlington so they could show him what NASCAR was all about. What he didn’t realise was that van Gisbergen was getting ready to teach him and 35 other NASCAR regulars his own lesson. Watching van Gisbergen around the track you could visibly see his advantage. While the NASCAR regulars were wobbling out to the wall using the steering wheel, van Gisbergen was out there pushing hard and sliding naturally out to the wall. In the media pen, the journalists were scrambling 68 / 20
to understand the New Zealander. Drivers like Kyle Larson, who had driven against him at Daytona in the sportscar race, said they were not surprised, while van Gisbergen kept a lid on it. What was obvious was that he was enjoying himself. Despite the bulk of his Chevrolet, perhaps 100kg more than a Supercar, he was surprised at the liveliness of the car, which was a combination of the tyres and the downforce generated by the rear-diffuser and the sleek underfloor. Sunday dawned with massive storms. It wasn’t that these cars don’t race in the rain like with ovals, but this storm was something else. There was flash flooding all over Chicago. Parts of the race track were inches under water, and the rain kept falling. Weather warnings on the phone said there was little chance of anything other than rain all day. Thankfully, a window started to appear. The cars were prepared despite the rain, and all the pre-race festivities were done early. When the race eventually went green it was late afternoon. The street track with no run-off areas was challenging. Cars nosed into the tyres and strategy came into play. From the start of the race, van Gisbergen, under the guidance of Grubb, was saving fuel to try and get the race done with less time on the jacks and one less stop than others. It dropped him into the lower half of the top 10, and some thought he was being outclassed.
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Shane van Gisbergen rocked the NASCAR establishment with his debut win in NASCAR. Now a full-time tilt awaits in 2024.
With the race shortened to 75 laps, the pitstops were impacting the running order. A flurry of pitstops were completed on lap 47, and two laps later William Byron hit the wall and triggered a series of incidents that virtually blocked the track. Van Gisbergen’s spotter got him through, and because of the way the pitstops landed, he lost eight spots when he pitted and rejoined in 18th after the safety car. Released from his fuel-saving leash, he started his move. In five green laps, he passed 10 cars, then the field settled down under safety car again. “Man, that was the most fun I’ve had in a race car in a long time,” he told his crew on the radio. On the green, he got back into it and was able to lap 1.5 seconds a lap faster than any other driver on the track. He was comfortable with the car and not daunted by the walls that were still scaring many of the regulars. The final caution, two laps from the scheduled end of the race, pushed the event into overtime. Van Gisbergen took the lead as the yellows came out and had to hand it back. That meant two laps on the green, and the battle with Justin Haley was entertaining if brief. Larson was one of the drivers passed in the closing stages and he was in awe of the Kiwi. He said running behind van Gisbergen after being passed was educational. “It was so fun to watch from my view... when he got to my back bumper, I felt like I pieced together a really good section, and I thought for sure I’d look in the mirror and I was going to be two car lengths or something in front of him, and he was glued to my back bumper, and I was like, this guy is flying,” said Larson. “He was able to get by me, and then I got to watch the show. The moves that he could make into Turn 2 were really neat to see, and then the pass that he had for the lead… I thought the battle for the lead was great. “He made his move into Turn 2. Justin was able to get a good exit and squeeze inside, and I was like, man, he’s going to be able to fight him off here for a little bit longer, and he just made a super-aggressive lane change back to his right side. It was just… it was sick. It was awesome. “He put on a show, and it was cool to see, and I think when a guy like that can come in and kick your arse at your own game, it shows that we all have room to improve. I’m curious about what he thinks about us. He obviously passed a lot of us, so I’m curious if he thinks we all suck or if we could actually compete, if we weren’t really that bad.” Van Gisbergen later responded with the respect he had shown his rivals all weekend. “I’m sure if it was an oval, it would be the other way around… I guess this is my bread and butter, the street circuits,” he said. “Almost half of our races are street circuits. I’m comfortable with the walls. It took me a bit to learn the proximity of the car, having the car on the other side of me, so I was missing apexes turning left and struggling turning right to know where that side of SUPERCAR XTRA
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SHANE VAN GISBERGEN
Shane van Gisbergen follows in the footsteps of Scott McLaughlin in moving to race in North America full-time after Supercars championship wins. Will Brodie Kostecki follow suit in the coming years?
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the car was. But those guys are good. In the wet, the tyre was so different to anything I’m used to, but they were straight into it. When I got on the slicks I was probably a bit too timid, and the guys were all over me. “Everyone is good, and the passes they were making were committed. I probably was a bit too nice to some people, but that’s how it was. “And then, coming back through the field, I thought once the race got shortened it was going to be difficult from 18th. I don’t know the paint schemes that well, so I was trying to read the numbers on the windscreen to figure out who people were when I came up on them and remember who’s good and who’s not.” It took two hours for van Gisbergen to make it from the pitlane to the media centre. The celebrations were huge.
The American media were in awe of what they had just seen, dumbfounded in fact. The bloke they called SVG came in and gave them all a lesson in street track racing. Yes, it was the perfect storm. No one had driven the track before, and none of his rivals had ever raced on any track like that. On one wet Sunday in July, van Gisbergen’s life changed. Now, he will be racing in NASCAR in 2024 with a mix of NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity, Trucks and other events as he learns a new craft, leaving Supercars with multiple championship and Bathurst wins, hoping to add to his impressive resume. If we’ve learned anything about van Gisbergen, it is that his ability to adapt and learn new racing disciplines is as good as we have ever seen in world motorsport. Now American motorsport fans know too.
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K O K O O L O L W E W N E E N H R E TTH ER A R C A C R P U SSUPE It has been a year of technical changes and squabbles as Supercars introduced the Gen3 cars in 2023, pitting the Chevrolet Camaro against the Ford Mustang. While parity debates may have overshadowed its introduction, the cars themselves have been received well.
he 2022 Adelaide 500 marked the end of the road for Holden, which bowed out with a round win on home soil. In 2023, Chevrolet returned to Australian touring cars to fly the General Motors flag against Ford under the Gen3 rules, seeing the Holden Commodore versus Ford Mustang battle turned into Chevrolet Camaro against the Ford Mustang. Gen3 was a case of history repeating, with the Camaro and Mustang two-door coupes going head-to-head for the championship in the early 1970s. The Gen3 cars were designed with an eye on increased road relevance, with a greater likeness to their road-going counterparts. And that was the most visible change with Gen3; they are lower and more akin to the Mustang and Camaro road cars. The Gen3 Camaro and Mustang share the same wheelbases and dimensions. With the centre of gravity lowered, the Gen3 cars were
also 100 millimetres wider for a more muscle-car look. And there’s a significant reduction in weight, at around 100 kilograms. There was also a big decrease in downforce, more than 50 percent down from the Gen2 cars, with the rear-wing size noticeably smaller, the front under-tray removed and the rear-wing mainplane common between the Mustang and Camaro. With less weight, less downforce and more mechanical grip, the Gen3 cars proved to be a harder to tame car that moved around more and, therefore, produced tighter racing with cars able to follow one another more closely and drivers forced into more mistakes. There were a few carryover parts from the Gen2 cars, including the transaxle, rear suspension wishbones and rear uprights. After initial talk of a move to a paddle-shift gearbox, Supercars opted to retain the stick-shift gear system. There was also a new engine, with Ford running a 5.4-litre quad overhead-cam Coyote engine with four valves per cylinder, SUPERCAR XTRA
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Comparison of the Gen2 and Gen3 Ford Mustangs. The Gen3 cars are wider with more carryover parts from the roadgoing version of the car.
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developed by Herrod Performance in association with Ford homologation team Dick Johnson Racing. In contrast, the Chevrolet teams run a Camaro LTR engine with a pushrod design single camshaft with two valves per cylinder, developed by KRE Race Engines in association with Chevrolet homologation team Triple Eight Race Engineering. The Camaro stormed out of the gate and kept that advantage throughout the season. A Ford Mustang won the first race of the Gen3 era, with Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters, but it was only after the disqualification for the Triple Eight Race Engineering Camaros after a pitlane infringement. It wasn’t until Race 17 that a Mustang won again, with Dick Johnson Racing’s Anton De Pasquale, albeit with the aid of a tyre advantage. By then, the parity debate had well and truly kicked off. The Mustang was clearly on the back foot with issues around its engine and aerodynamics. Supercars now faces a critical off season to achieve better parity between the Mustang and Camaro. When it does, the category can move on and reap the benefits of cars that are more akin to their road-going versions.
SUPERCARS VS NASCAR
The latest generation of racers for NASCAR, known as Gen-7, and Supercars, Gen3, have brought the two classes closer together than ever before. It is no surprise, therefore, that NASCAR completed a factfinding mission to Australia to study our cars before completing their own. Both cars are built around a chassis that is effectively a roll cage, and the rest of the bits bolt on from there.
The concept was to cut costs by creating components teams have had to buy from one source, or in Supercars’ case, manufacture to a set of specifications. There are massive penalties for ‘counterfeiting’ parts, or not using the single-source components.
Supercars moved away from the five-litre formula it ran since 1993 with Ford and Chevrolet running different configuration V8 engines under Gen3.
TECH SPECS CHEVROLET CAMARO SUPERCAR Model Engine Horsepower Cylinder Weight Fuel tank Top speed Max RPM 0-100 km/h
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 GM 5.7 litre V8, single camshaft, two valves per cylinder, aluminium block 600 8 1340kg 135 litres 300km/h 7500RPM 3.4 seconds
FORD MUSTANG SUPERCAR Model Engine Horsepower Cylinders Weight Fuel tank Top speed Max RPM 0-100 km/h
Ford Mustang GT Ford Coyote 5.4 litre V8, quad camshaft, four valves per cylinder, aluminium block 600 8 1340kg 135 litres 300km/h 7500RPM 3.4 seconds
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Comparison of the NASCAR and Supercar Chevrolet Camaros, with a visible difference in the shape and aerodynamics.
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The NASCAR teams are also now allowed only seven chassis’ per car number, a drop from up to 20 in the past where they had a different chassis for each of the different styles of track. A NASCAR can be put on the track for around $500,000, which is less than a Gen3 Supercar costs. In terms of the cars, the NASCARs are stronger and more durable; you saw them in Chicago getting buried windscreen deep in tyres before clicking into reverse and dragging the car out without intervention and then continuing on. They are strong cars, while ours seem a little more fragile now. Parity is an issue but just not discussed. The three cars – Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Toyota Camry - have different shapes, and that is always hard to balance out, wind tunnel or no wind tunnel. But when you look at the wins and the 16 drivers in the playoffs, the stated goal of an even number of wins is pretty good. NASCARs generate downforce under the car with side skirts and a rear diffuser sucking the cars onto the ground, which is why they run so low. There are also little flaps on the top surface of the car designed to help keep the car from lifting off the ground in a high speed – sometimes 300km/h – spin. NASCAR now runs an independent rear end and a transaxle similar to ours, but the engines remain a 5.86-litre unit – all three have the same capacity and configuration as opposed to the two specs we have
here for Ford and Chev. The wheels are now single nut, rather than the previous five for each wheel. On the racing side of it, NASCAR is more hands-off in a judicial sense, allowing bumping and grinding on the track in a kind of self-policing system. If you wrong someone today, they can get even tomorrow. There are also no blue flags when lapping traffic, which brings more race craft into the game for the leaders and creates some unknown. NASCAR has a charter system for teams similar to Supercars, but there are spots on the grid for noncharter cars that run for reduced prize money and no guaranteed start. If a charter finished in the bottom three of the championship for three years in a row, that charter is stripped from them and sold to someone else. A similar system in Australia, depending on the number chosen, would leave a couple of charters at risk. Then there is the show, and no one in motorsport does that better than NASCAR, from the driver introductions at the track to the hour-long lead-in to the races on the telecast. It helps when there is just one race a weekend of course - it is harder to create a build-up when you have two, three or four races in a weekend. NASCAR is huge, there are 33 races in a championship season, with only one week off during the year. We are almost the exact opposite with 12 racing weekends in 2023.
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WHO GOES WHERE IN 2024
The Repco Supercars Championship grid will look very different in 2024 with a host of driver moves in the off-season. After one of the most active silly seasons in recent years, this is how each team shapes up for next season.
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hen Shane van Gisbergen won on the streets of Chicago in his NASCAR debut in July, it set the wheels in motion for one of the silliest silly seasons in Supercars. With van Gisbergen stating his intention to make a full-time move to NASCAR, the scramble began for one of the most prized seats in Supercars. And, as a result, the domino effect spread throughout the rest of the pitlane with most teams making changes for next season and drivers from youngsters to veterans set for a moves. This is how each team is shaping up for the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship:
TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING
With van Gisbergen heading to NASCAR in 2024, it opened up one of the most sought-after drives in Supercars. Triple Eight Race Engineering has had continuity for most of its time in Supercars, with Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and van Gisbergen its regulars and Broc Feeney recruited to replace Whincup. Rather than recruiting another rookie as it did with Feeney in 2022, Triple Eight Race Engineering surprised many with the acquisition of Will Brown from Erebus Motorsport. Brown seemed to be well established at Erebus Motorsport, and given his and the team’s 2023 form it seemed unlikely he would leave. However, he signed on to move between Chevrolet teams. Feeney has stepped up and justified Triple Eight Race Engineering’s faith in him in the big task of replacing Whincup, and it seems he is ready to challenge for a championship. Also, given his young age, he could be with the team for a long time, as were Lowndes, Whincup and van Gisbergen. The Feeney-Brown combination will be one of the most exciting to watch in 2024. Feeney may have the experience with the team as he continues his rise, but Brown will be buoyed by emerging as a championship contender and could thrive even further with his new team. 80 / 32
DICK JOHNSON RACING
Dick Johnson Racing’s moves have been focused off-track with ownership changes entering 2023. And after a challenging season with the performance of the Ford Mustang relative to the Chevrolet Camaro, the focus for Dick Johnson Racing will be on the cars rather than their drivers in the off-season. Anton De Pasquale joined the team from Erebus Motorsport in 2021 and has won a race in each season since, including one of the few triumphs for Ford this season in Townsville. He will be looking for more wins in a more consistent campaign with the team in 2024. Will Davison also joined the team in 2021 for what is his second stint with Dick Johnson Racing, proving to be one of the Ford runners’ most consistent performers this season. But, like his teammate, Davison will be banking on more performance and better results next season. The combination of youth and experience is a good mix for Dick Johnson Racing; it just needs the car package to allow the drivers to deliver.
There are big changes at Tickford Racing for 2024, with the team downsizing from four to two entries and long-time team principal Tim Edwards departing at the end of the season. The decision to downsize was so the team could deliver a more consistent championship challenge on two entries, rather than being spread too thin across four entries. Cameron Waters has been the unofficial lead driver since the departures of Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert, giving the Ford Mustang Gen3 car its first win in Newcastle in what has been an otherwise challenging season. He is set to stay with the team next season, though he too is also looking at potential NASCAR opportunities. Thomas Randle stepped up into a full-time drive with the team in 2022, improving over the course of the last season with a
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breakout round at The Bend Motorsport Park in 2023. He looks set to stay with the team as Waters’ teammate to continue his upward trajectory. It will be a big off-season for the Ford team as it reshapes with two less entries, without the leadership of Edwards and as the Mustang undergoes further changes to make it more competitive with the Chevrolet Camaro. But with Waters and Randle, Tickford Racing has two young drivers ready to strike.
WALKINSHAW ANDRETTI UNITED
Walkinshaw Andretti United switched from General Motors to Ford entering 2023, with uncertainty around how big the impact of the switch would be given the whole field was also transitioning into the Gen3 era. But any hopes the team had of challenging for the championship came unstuck as the Mustang struggled to match the pace of the Camaro. Mostert has been one of the leading Ford drivers in 2024. He has well and truly cemented his place as the team leader at Walkinshaw Andretti United, hoping a revamped Mustang can allow him to challenge for the championship next season. Nick Percat struggled to match the pace of Mostert over the course of the last two seasons, with the team moving on from Percat and recruiting its Dunlop Super2 Series driver Ryan Wood alongside Mostert for 2024. The New Zealander Wood has had a meteoric rise through the ranks, and faces a steep learning curve in his main-game debut season. Mostert will again be the lead driver for the team in 2024, while Wood will need a season to get up to speed in the top flight of Supercars. But, as with the other Ford teams, much will depend on the performance of the Mustang in 2024.
Grove Racing will have an all-New Zealand driver pairing in 2024, with Richie Stanaway making his return to full-time Supercars driving alongside Matthew Payne in a pair of Ford Mustangs. Stanaway replaces the Team 18-bound David Reynolds for what will be his first full-time season since 2019. After troubled seasons
with Tickford Racing and Garry Rogers Motorsport, Stanaway had time away from the sport before impressive co-driving stints with Erebus Motorsport and Triple Eight Race Engineering. Payne has impressed in his rookie season in 2023, often matching and sometimes outperforming his more experienced teammate in Reynolds, with the chance to move further up the grid in his second season in 2024. Grove Racing has invested heavily in personnel since taking over from Kelly Racing in 2021, with the recruitment of Stanaway seen by some as a gamble before his Bathurst win. But the combination of his and Payne’s potential could see the team climb up the grid.
Erebus Motorsport seemed likely to retain the same drivers for next season, given the form of Brodie Kostecki and Brown this season. But their hand was forced when the surprise news emerged that Brown would be leaving the team to replace van Gisbergen at Triple Eight Race Engineering for 2024. With the Kostecki-Brown combination broken up, Erebus Motorsport went to market seeking a driver ready to continue its race-winning momentum into 2024. It decided on Jack Le Brocq, fresh from giving Matt Stone Racing its first win in Darwin. It is a homecoming of sorts for Le Brocq, who was part of the Erebus Motorsport driver academy and made his Supercars debut with the team as an endurance co-driver in 2015 before moving on to full-time drives with Tekno Autosports, Tickford Racing and Matt Stone Racing. Whether the team can continue its 2023 form next season remains to be seen, with a different dynamic amongst the drivers with the arrival of Le Brocq alongside Kostecki. And with Kostecki also linked to a move to NASCAR in the coming years, Erebus Motorsport could be forced back onto the market.
Team 18 will field the most experienced driver pairing on the grid in 2024, with Reynolds joining fellow Bathurst winner Winterbottom in the team’s Chevrolet Camaros next season. The team will part ways with Scott Pye at the end of 2023. Pye joined Team 18 when it expanded to two entries in 2020, partnering Winterbottom over the last four seasons. Reynolds moves from Grove Racing after a three-year spell, returning to the General Motors fold for the first time since he last drove for Erebus Motorsport in 2020. Team owner Charlie Schwerkolt will be hoping the Winterbottom-Reynolds combination can help build on the team’s first win, claimed by Winterbottom at Darwin in 2023.
BRAD JONES RACING
With Tickford Racing downsizing from four to two entries, Brad Jones Racing will be the only team running more than two cars with four Chevrolet Camaros entered from the team once again in 2024. André Heimgartner has been the best-performing Brad Jones Racing driver since he joined the team in 2022, scoring regular podiums and beating more fancied entries on a consistent basis. He has well and truly cemented himself as the team leader moving forward, with race wins the aim in 2024. Bryce Fullwood has flown under the radar with some solid performances since joining the team in 2022, and he shapes as another driver to watch with continuity at Brad Jones Racing. Getting near or matching Heimgartner will be the goal for 2024. SUPERCAR XTRA
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Jack Smith and Macauley Jones also look set to remain at Brad Jones Racing in 2024, aiming to get on par with Heimgartner and Fullwood in terms of results.
MATT STONE RACING
Matt Stone Racing scored a breakthrough first win in Supercars at Darwin in 2023, though it faces the departure of the driver who gave them that win next season. Darwin winner Le Brocq is heading to Erebus Motorsport in 2024, leaving Matt Stone Racing without the driver who has led it further up the grid this season. In his place comes Percat, who is looking for a career reset after a challenging couple of seasons at Walkinshaw Andretti United. Matt Stone Racing will be hoping Percat does for the Chevorlet team what he did at Brad Jones Racing: punch above the team’s weight with race wins and podiums. Cameron Hill will partner Percat and remain with the team he joined for his rookie full-time season in 2023. Hill has had some good results in what has been a learning season for the rookie, with Percat a new benchmark to compare himself to in 2024. Matt Stone Racing stepped up in terms of results with the transition into Gen3, and will be hoping that continues with all eyes on whether Percat can turn things around in his return to the General Motors fold.
The newest team in Supercars stayed out of the silly season, after making its debut in 2022 and changing its line-up over the course of its first season and into 2023, retaining its drivers for 2024.
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James Golding joined the team midway through 2022 and impressed immediately, securing a full season with the team in 2023. He has shown flashes of speed in 2023, but the team remains in a growing phase with a number of managerial and engineering changes over the course of the year. Tim Slade was a new recruit for the team in 2023, adding some valuable experience to the fold. He, like his teammate Golding, has had an up and down season, with the hopes of a more settled team and better consistency in 2024. With PremiAir Racing entering its third season with a bolstered leadership structure and engineering staff, there are hopes it can climb up the grid and challenge on a more consistent basis in 2024.
BLANCHARD RACING TEAM
The Blanchard Racing Team will expand to two cars in 2024, running a pair of Ford Mustangs full-time after fielding a second entry in the endurance events in 2023. It is a natural evolution for a team that was initially run from the Brad Jones Racing stable before going its own way with a standalone entry in 2021. The Blanchard Racing Team acquired a car and its second license from Tickford Racing, with James Courtney also set to move between the Ford teams to give the team valuable experience in its expansion. The team’s Dunlop Super2 Series and wildcard endurance driver Aaron Love is set to step up into a full-time drive, transitioning from racing Porsche Carrera Cup into a Supercar in 2023. All told, there will be 24 full-time entries in 2024 – 14 Chevrolet Camaros and 10 Ford Mustangs. Bring on 2024!
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Nick Percat grew up watching the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and Adelaide 500 on the Adelaide Street Circuit. And he became the first South Australian to win the Adelaide 500 in 2016. Ahead of his final race for Walkinshaw Andretti United before a move to Matt Stone Racing, he talks through his career progression and the significance of the VAILO Adelaide 500. SUPERCAR XTRA
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ick Percat and Matt Stone had not spoken other than exchanging the odd pleasantries in pitlane prior to their post Tailem Bend meeting following the OTR SuperSprint this year. Despite Matt Stone Racing (MSR) eyeing a number of drivers for the seat vacated by Erebus Motorsportbound Jack Le Brocq, Percat made no pitch. He went with a more personal approach. Percat had decided he was content. If he didn’t get another full-time drive in Supercars, he wasn’t going to be upset. He was happy with what he had achieved and felt privileged to have had the opportunity to be on the grid. He had planned for life after Supercars; already running his own karting team. After asking Stone for a visit to the MSR workshop following Tailem Bend, the 2011 Bathurst 1000 winner boarded a plane bound for the Gold Coast seeking to learn more about the team that he will now be driving for in 2024. “I didn’t want it to be a secret that I was coming up; I wanted the crew to be there and just doing their day-to-day work,” said Percat. “I wanted to get a feel for the place. I think I had only been there for 10 minutes and looked at Matt and said, ‘Yeah, I think we need to make this fit, make this happen.’ I really enjoyed the feel of the workshop. The crew and the culture they’ve built there is really cool.” Percat said the deal came together pretty quickly after the discussion with Stone, and some assistance from “people in my corner.” “I just asked him [Stone] to give me a run through the team and he took me through all the different departments,” revealed Percat. “We sat down at the end and had a coffee and spoke more about what he’s trying to achieve. And that’s what got me excited… it was a pretty easy negotiation. I think he appreciated that I didn’t come up there and promise the world. The pitch was more just getting to know each other as people. It’s probably a little bit of a different way of going about it, but I was keen on making sure I’m working with the right people.” The desire to work with the right people comes off the back of two challenging seasons at Walkinshaw Andretti United, where personnel changes were frequent. It was meant to be the fairytale reunion with the squad, who in its Holden Racing Team guise nurtured Percat during his junior years. The investment culminated in a memorable rookie Bathurst 1000 victory in 2011 alongside Garth Tander. Percat said a lack of continuity hasn’t made things easy during his current stint with the Ford Mustang squad, especially with the change of manufacturers and car under Gen3 in 2023. “I haven’t had a consistent engineering group around me,” reflected Percat. “They’ve had heaps of changes in 18 months. I was trying to take my engineer Andrew Edwards [from Brad Jones Racing] with me and then that didn’t quite happen which was no issue. I ended up with a really good engineer in Geoff Slater and then after a few 86 / 38
rounds that relationship wasn’t working in the way that I think the team wanted because he was Queensland based. They wanted someone full-time in the workshop so that relationship ended quickly for me. “I don’t think Jeff wanted to leave. I didn’t want him to leave as well, the team didn’t either, it was just circumstantial. I had Shippy [Grant McPherson] come on my car, who’s an amazing engineer, but he’d also agreed to go to Grove [Racing]. So he was only with me for a couple rounds. And now I’ve got Adam Austin, who’s been my engineer since. It’s just very hard to keep bouncing around through engineers and staffing like that and expect to get amazing results.” Percat said despite not getting the engineering continuity he had hoped for, he has no regrets about his move to Walkinshaw Andretti United from Brad Jones Racing. “When I look back at it, it’s probably, if we could have had a bit more continuity or got AE [Andrew Edwards] over the line to come and join me, it probably would have been a completely different picture,” said Percat. “In hindsight, that’s one little thing that didn’t happen. I still love driving for the team, love the team, and working with Chaz [Mostert]. I still put my best foot forward every day to get a good result for them. So I would have loved the story to go the right way and repay Ryan and Martine Walkinshaw back with big results. But, unfortunately, it just hasn’t happened. “You never want to fail when you go to any team. No one signs up to get there and have the results that we’ve had. It wasn’t good for anyone, from myself to the whole core group, and obviously, Ryan and Martine. Zak [Brown] and Michael [Andretti] weren’t that happy with it. None of us were. So it’s probably just more frustrating than anything, because on their day, when they get it right, the car has been quite good. But yeah, unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of those days for me.” One of those days they got it right was with a
After a rain-soaked finish, Nick Percat became the first South Australian to win the Adelaide 500 in 2016.
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Chaz Mostert and Nick Percat scored a one-two in the Saturday race in Adelaide in 2022, in Walkinshaw Andretti United’s final event with Holden.
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fantastic one-two for the team in the Saturday race in Adelaide in 2022, in the team’s final event with Holden. “It was a dream come true to have a one-two with that livery at that track,” said Percat. “I think I’ve also got some really good friendships. Chaz is one of my best mates, we speak pretty much every day. Not about Supercars, just about life and what we’re up to and stuff like that. So I think that’s a pretty cool thing to come out of it too. You know, there’s more to life than just the race car. So I think that’s pretty special as well.” The Adelaide circuit has been a special place for the Percat family, long before the now 35-year-old can
remember. His Dad was a mechanic who did a bit of karting and drag racing and took his son to Formula 1 races when he was just a few months old. “I remember the final F1 race in Adelaide, mainly because the Ferrari broke down in front of us and they wheeled it behind the fence,” recalled Percat. “Back then it was pretty loose, the crowd could go sit on the wheels basically, and stuff like that. So I remember being up close and personal with a Ferrari F1 car at a very, very young age. “My earliest memory of Supercars was around then. I just remember pestering Dad to go buy merchandise. I’d always want a Larry Perkins hat and stuff like that. And the Mobil HRT ones. So I don’t remember a massive amount from on the track. I just remember standing as close to the fence as I could exiting Turn 10.” With the motorsport bug nurtured at a young age in Adelaide, Percat had the opportunity to score a special victory with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport at his home race in 2016. “Winning that event with one of my best mates in Lucas was incredible, especially in the way we did it with that team,” he said. “It’s one that definitely sticks with me, as we were an underdog team. We had a shocking Saturday; we didn’t even start the race. We had a very fast car in the wet and we got the fuel in when we could; we did everything we had to do. I knew there was a lot going on in the pits. Just the one thing I wanted to do is cross the line first so at least we got to celebrate that. And then everything else that happened after was amazing. There was nothing like that… being an Adelaide boy, getting that photo of the car crossing the line and standing on the roof.” After this year’s season ending race in Adelaide, Percat will turn his attention to new horizons in 2024 and the possibilities on offer at MSR. “I’m sure he [Stone] could’ve put a numerous amount of people in there, but he looked at the history of what I’ve done, everything from Formula Ford all the way through,” said Percat. “He sees the last 18 months as a bit of an outlier. You know, I think every year besides one at BJR, I was in the top 10 in the championship, podiums every single year at BJR, race wins and pole positions.” Percat said the experience he brings to the team and the consistency he has shown over the years should assist MSR build on the momentum they’ve established in 2023. “He [Stone] thinks he can deliver the correct environment that I’ll go well in and I agree with him,” said Percat. “It’s definitely got a nice family feel. It’s all hands on deck, it’s a smaller team. I think he’s probably thinking if he can get the right people around me, like I had a BJR, he’s going to get good results and I was of the same view. “I’ve been with some big teams, and also there’s actually a couple of guys there that I’ve worked with at BJR for many, many years. That probably helped my cause as well.”
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THE ADELAIDE 500 LEGACY
Ahead of the event’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 2024, we look back on what makes the VAILO Adelaide 500 so special – the history, track and legacy.
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new era began for the Adelaide 500 in 2022. Its much-anticipated return saw the event move from the start to the end of the Supercars season. With a champion now crowned in Adelaide, the event took on an extra dimension. This is how the Adelaide 500 became such a success; setting a template that Supercars replicated across Australia and New Zealand.
What we now know as Supercars looked very different before the arrival of the Adelaide 500. The 1998 championship wrapped up on the first weekend of August, with the Bathurst 1000 a non-championship round. And there were no street circuits across the 10-round championship. The introduction of the Adelaide 500 set a new template for Supercars – a marquee street circuit event combining on-track action with off-track festivities. It was a big step forward for Supercars, with its arrival and the inclusion of Bathurst into the championship both happening in 1999. Four years after the loss of the Australian Grand Prix, the Adelaide 500 saw the famed Adelaide Street Circuit come back to life. The circuit was slightly shortened, creating what became one of the most challenging corners on the track, the fast sweeper that is Turn 8, and leaving little rest time for drivers. The format was and remains two 250-kilometre races, one each on the Saturday and Sunday. After the challenge of driving in the heat and humidity for close to two hours, drivers would need to back it up and do it all again the following day. Driver fitness became crucial, after a number of drivers struggled to cope over the course of the race distance in those early years. Supercars itself also moved to longer races as a result, bringing pit strategy and the teams more into the equation. The event was well supported from day one and kept growing, from an initial 162,000 spectators over three days in 1999 to 291,4000 over four days a decade later in 2008. The event became the Supercars season opener in 2002 and increased to four days in 2003. After a long off-season, drivers and teams were thrown in the deep end with Adelaide first up. The event saw some historic performances over the years, with greats such as Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Marcos Ambrose, Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin not only amongst the winners but also producing some of their careerbest performances in Adelaide. Lowndes and Skaife both stormed through from the rear of the field to take come from behind wins in 1999 and 2000 respectively. They then crashed into each other in Adelaide in 2001, in the year Lowndes defected from Holden to Ford. Skaife and the Holden Racing Team were the dominant forces in the early 2000s. In addition to championship and Bathurst doubles in 2001 and 2002, Skaife also went back-to-back in Adelaide in 2002 and 2003. 92 / 44
There was a changing of the guard in the mid2000s with the rise of Ambrose and Stone Brothers Racing, swinging the pendulum from Holden to Ford. Ambrose won in Adelaide in 2004 and 2005, off the back of two championship wins, before moving to NASCAR. Who would replace Ambrose as the next dominator emerged in 2006, when Whincup, in his first round with Triple Eight Race Engineering, surprised many with victory in Adelaide. Whincup would go on to win a record-breaking seven championships, often kickstarted with wins in Adelaide. He remains the most successful driver in the history of the Adelaide 500 with four round wins – 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Van Gisbergen also scored a win on debut with a new team in 2013. After a shock departure from Stone Brothers Racing and talk of a premature retirement, he reappeared at Tekno Autosports and claimed the win in Adelaide. His performances at Tekno Autosports led to a drive at Triple Eight Race Engineering, as eventual successor to Whincup with three championship wins and two more Adelaide 500 titles. McLaughlin took the fight to Whincup in a famous last-lap battle in Adelaide in 2014. McLaughlin was a star on the rise with his performance in Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Volvo Polestar S60, confirming his potential. He became a dominant force in Supercars with DJR Team Penske, winning three championships and two Adelaide 500s before moving to IndyCar. Broc Feeney became the latest driver to make his mark in Adelaide, with his first win in 2022 a sign of what’s to come for the Triple Eight Race Engineering rising star. Who will write their own history in 2023? The Adelaide Street Circuit awaits.
The 3.22-kilometre (two miles) Adelaide Street Circuit is one of the most challenging circuits on the Repco Supercars Championship calendar – a bull-ring with a combination of fast and slow corners, taking in tight city streets and an open specially-designed parklands section. There are several challenges for drivers on the lap that will take them around one minute and 20 seconds on average to complete in the race. And with 78 laps in each 250-kilometre race against 24 rivals in the confined spaces of their Camaros and Mustangs with the heat and humidity of the approaching summer, a lot can go wrong. Make no mistake, the winner will truly have earned the plaudits of their success come the chequered flag. The lap begins with a quick burst into the Senna Chicane, a fast left-right-left where the drivers attack the kerbs and try and straight-line the corner as best they can to maximise the speed they carry onto Wakefield Road. After a short straight there are four consecutive 90-degree corners, Turns 4 to 7. Brave drivers can attempt a divebomb move into one of these corners, but it is typically a one-lane line as drivers try to avoid
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LEFT: The walls are ever present for drivers around the Adelaide Street Circuit. BELOW: Pit strategy comes into play over the course of the 250-kilometre races.
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missing their braking markers and finding the barriers in this tight section. The exit of Turn 7 is crucial. The corner opens up on exit with the drive off the corner vital to carry speed down Brock Straight and into the infamous Turn 8. The Turn 8 right-hand sweeper is the fastest corner on the circuit, where drivers who miss their mark are punished by the outside wall. A good exit from Turn 8 allows drivers to carry speed down Brabham Straight into the Turn 9 hairpin, one of the main overtaking spots on the circuit. As the cars accelerate through Turn 10 and back into Victoria Park and the tight VAILO Corner, there is the chance for drivers to run side-by-side as they approach the end of the lap. The fast sweepers of Turn 12 and 13 see drivers attack the kerb to set up their entry into the hard braking point of the Turn 14 hairpin, where there is another overtaking opportunity with the corner exit again crucial for the drag over the start-finish line to start another lap.
The Victoria Park section of the Adelaide Street Circuit contrasts with the tight confines of the city streets section.
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Following the introduction of the Adelaide 500 in 1999, the marquee street circuit event template was replicated in Canberra, Sydney, Hamilton, Gold Coast, Townsville and Newcastle. Through the years, Adelaide remained the benchmark for others. This is why the Adelaide 500 was inducted into Supercars’ ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2005,
which was the first time an individual event had been granted this prestigious honour. To date the Adelaide 500 has been awarded: • Supercars - Promoter of the Year, 1999 - 2005 and 2011 • Supercars - Hall of Fame, 2005 • Supercars - Best Volunteer Group, 2016 • Australian Tourism Awards - Winner of Major Festivals and Events, 2003/2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 • Australian Tourism Awards - Bronze award of Major Festivals and Events, 2013 • SA Tourism Awards - Winner of Major Festivals and Events, 2001 - 2008, 2013 - 2015 • SA Tourism Awards - Gold for Major Festivals and Events, 2011 • SA Tourism Awards - Silver for Major Festivals and Events, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016 • SA Tourism Awards - Hall of Fame, 2003, 2007 and 2015 • Fans Choice Award - Best Event, 2022 The event is about more than motorsport, with the off-track activities highlighted by the after-race concerts. The likes of Robbie Williams, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, KISS and more have performed at the event, in addition to a host of local talent. The 2023 VAILO Adelaide 500 will be the latest chapter in the storied history of the event. It is onwards and upwards with the 25th anniversary celebrations coming up in 2024.
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VAILO ADELAIDE 500 HONOUR ROLL RACE WINNERS
YEAR 1999 1999 2000 2000 2001 2001 2002 2002 2003 2003 2004 2004 2005 2005 2006 2006 2007 2007 2008 2008 2009 2009 2010 2010 2011 2011 2012 2012 2013 2013 2014 2014 2014 2015 2015 2015 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2018 2018 2019 2019 2020 2020 2022 2022
RACE Leg 1 Leg 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2 Race 1 Race 2
DRIVER Craig Lowndes Craig Lowndes Craig Lowndes Mark Skaife Craig Lowndes Jason Bright Mark Skaife Mark Skaife Marcos Ambrose Mark Skaife Marcos Ambrose Marcos Ambrose Marcos Ambrose Marcos Ambrose Craig Lowndes Jamie Whincup Todd Kelly Rick Kelly Jamie Whincup Jamie Whincup Jamie Whincup Jamie Whincup Garth Tander Garth Tander Garth Tander Jamie Whincup Jamie Whincup Will Davison Craig Lowndes Shane van Gisbergen Jamie Whincup Craig Lowndes James Courtney Jamie Whincup Fabian Coulthard James Courtney Jamie Whincup James Courtney Nick Percat Shane van Gisbergen Shane van Gisbergen Shane van Gisbergen Shane van Gisbergen Scott McLaughlin Scott McLaughlin Jamie Whincup Scott McLaughlin Chaz Mostert Broc Feeney
TEAM Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Gibson Motorsport Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Stone Brothers Racing Holden Racing Team Stone Brothers Racing Stone Brothers Racing Stone Brothers Racing Stone Brothers Racing Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Racing Team HSV Dealer Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford Performance Racing Triple Eight Race Engineering Tekno Autosports Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Racing Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Brad Jones Racing Holden Racing Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Racing Team Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering DJR Team Penske DJR Team Penske Triple Eight Race Engineering DJR Team Penske Walkinshaw Andretti United Triple Eight Race Engineering
CAR Holden VT Commodore Holden VT Commodore Holden VT Commodore Holden VT Commodore Ford AU Falcon Holden VX Commodore Holden VX Commodore Holden VX Commodore Ford BA Falcon Holden VY Commodore Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Holden VE Commodore Holden VE Commodore Ford BF Falcon Ford BF Falcon Ford FG Falcon Ford FG Falcon Holden VE Commodore Holden VE Commodore Holden VE II Commodore Holden VE II Commodore Holden VE II Commodore Ford FG Falcon Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden ZB Commodore Holden ZB Commodore Ford Mustang Ford Mustang Holden ZB Commodore Ford Mustang Holden ZB Commodore Holden ZB Commodore SUPERCAR XTRA
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YEAR 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
98 / 50
DRIVER Craig Lowndes Garth Tander Jason Bright Mark Skaife Mark Skaife Marcos Ambrose Marcos Ambrose Jamie Whincup Rick Kelly Jamie Whincup Jamie Whincup Garth Tander Jamie Whincup Will Davison Shane van Gisbergen James Courtney James Courtney Nick Percat Shane van Gisbergen Shane van Gisbergen Scott McLaughlin Scott McLaughlin Broc Feeney
TEAM Holden Racing Team Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Stone Brothers Racing Stone Brothers Racing Triple Eight Race Engineering HSV Dealer Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Racing Team Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford Performance Racing Tekno Autosports Holden Racing Team Holden Racing Team Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Triple Eight Race Engineering Triple Eight Race Engineering DJR Team Penske DJR Team Penske Triple Eight Race Engineering
CAR Holden VT Commodore Holden VT Commodore Holden VX Commodore Holden VX Commodore Holden VY Commodore Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Ford BA Falcon Holden VE Commodore Ford BF Falcon Ford FG Falcon Holden VE Commodore Holden VE II Commodore Ford FG Falcon Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden VF Commodore Holden ZB Commodore Ford Mustang Ford Mustang Holden ZB Commodore
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REPCO BATHURST 1000 ENTRY LIST #
Nick Percat / Fabian Coulthard
Walkinshaw Andretti United
Todd Hazelwood / Tim Blanchard
Blanchard Racing Team
Jack Smith / Jaxon Evans
Brad Jones Racing
James Courtney / Zak Best
Cameron Waters / James Moffat
Aaron Love / Jake Kostecki
Blanchard Racing Team
André Heimgartner / Dale Wood
Brad Jones Racing
Will Brown / Jack Perkins
Anton De Pasquale / Tony D’Alberto
Dick Johnson Racing
Bryce Fullwood / Dean Fiore
Brad Jones Racing
Will Davison / Alex Davison
Dick Johnson Racing
Mark Winterbottom / Michael Caruso
Matthew Payne / Kevin Estre
Scott Pye / Warren Luff
Tim Slade / Jonathon Webb
Chaz Mostert / Lee Holdsworth
Walkinshaw Andretti United
David Reynolds / Garth Tander
James Golding / Dylan O’Keeffe
Jack Le Brocq / Jayden Ojeda
Matt Stone Racing
Cameron Hill / Jaylyn Robotham
Matt Stone Racing
Thomas Randle / Garry Jacobson
Declan Fraser / Tyler Everingham
Broc Feeney / Jamie Whincup
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Macauley Jones / Jordan Boys
Brad Jones Racing
Shane van Gisbergen / Richie Stanaway
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Simona De Silvestro / Kai Allen
Dick Johnson Racing
Brodie Kostecki / David Russell
Craig Lowndes / Zane Goddard
Triple Eight Race Engineering
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O C P E R 3 2 0 THE 2 ST 1000 R U H T BA
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he 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000 was a race weekend of many parts. The first was a political battle before a wheel had even turned in anger. It turned into a young championship leader with an underrated co-driver, both with blinding speed and a catch-us-ifyou-can mentality. Finally, it turned to race day with one story of redemption and another a dominant possible farewell. Let’s start with the first. Ford went to Bathurst believing its seventh generation Mustang was battling from behind. The data was pretty clear, albeit debatable; only once on the track in 2023 had a Mustang taken the chequered flag first. That was once in 23 races. It was said it was slower in a straight line and had an aero imbalance that made for a narrow set-up window and gave it more rear tyre wear. If you got the car in the window, qualifying was okay, but then, when the racing began, the Camaro took over. The counter-argument from most of the Chev teams, except for the championship leading Erebus Motorsport team, said the cars were okay, and that maybe even the Fords had an advantage, they just weren’t doing a good enough job. But, in the end, no amount of data, evidence or debate would change a thing. The only way a change for Bathurst could come about was for every owner of a Teams Racing Charter to vote for it. That wasn’t going to happen and didn’t happen. So the cars raced as they did at Sandown. That was Wednesday. Thursday was the start of the real battle, and very early it was obvious the Erebus cars were jets. David Russell topped the day’s times in the #99 Coca-Cola Racing by Erebus Camaro he was sharing with championship leader Brodie Kostecki, and the #9 car for Will Brown and Jack Perkins from the same outfit was a clear second. This is probably the way qualifying would have finished, too, but Brown hit the wall on his first fast lap and that was pretty much it for his shot at pole as he missed the Top 10 Shootout by a fair margin. Kostecki made no such errors, and he topped the times comfortably. James Golding was a surprise second fastest. The Nulon Racing Camaro driver used a car built by Triple Eight Race Engineering, and he has access to their data. But on this day, he and PremiAir Racing did a better job than the mega squad. The two fastest Fords were Anton De Pasquale and Cameron Waters, before Broc Feeney dropped in with the fifth best time. Shane van Gisbergen was there too, but he needed a tow and a 301km/h blast down Conrod to make it as he continued his qualifying battles with the Gen3 Red Bull Ampol Racing Camaro out of Triple Eight. Declan Fraser had a big 56G crash on top of the Mountain that connected with the wall in the right way to leave the car repairable. Slightly more or less angle, and the Tradie Beer Mustang could have been a pretzel. But as with most years at Bathurst – last year being an obvious exception – qualifying only decides which 10 drivers get the track to themselves for a SUPERCAR XTRA
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single lap in the iconic Top 10 Shootout, the original and the best. In the Shootout, Feeney’s 2:04.7549 from the middle of the pack stood up well. De Pasquale, Waters and Golding couldn’t better it, and to be fair, it was a pretty good time, and less than 1/10th split those four. Enter Kostecki and a lap to rival 2003’s ‘Lap of the Gods’. Like Greg Murphy’s iconic lap, it wasn’t perfect but
it was jaw-droppingly good and he sat on the pole by half a second and was only a wild slide coming out of Hell Corner from a 2:03 lap that no one thought was possible. I’m not a talented enough writer to fully capture and report the emotions of the lead-up to our greatest motor race. But it is always eerie, like a calm before the storm. My yearly walk from the top of the pitlane to the bottom about an hour before the race is one of serenity. The focus is there, for sure. The crews go through the process of checking the things that need checking, ticking boxes and preparing. The drivers and engineers are hidden away in preparation, some physical, some mental. The drivers’ parade is when they start to fully suck in the atmosphere. For rookies like Kevin Estre from France and locals Aaron Love and Kai Allen, this first trip around Bathurst on the back of a convertible car is something they will never forget. It is more memorable than the crush on the grid, which most teams and drivers wished didn’t happen while accepting the commerciality of it. The storm is starting to build now, ready for the eruption of the green light that concludes part two of this story. Kostecki and Russell were, to this point, the class of the field. When the race started, that changed. For days, Triple Eight was telling us it was all about getting the best race car and they weren’t chasing speed, which seems incongruous. Surely speed gives you a better race car? The answer is clearly ‘no’. A qualifying car is good
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on the edge, great at extracting one lap of speed. But it might take too much out of the tyres, it might be hard to drive like that for the 25 to 30 laps expected in a stint. It might be all sorts of things. Jamie Whincup in Feeney’s #88 car jumped Russell at the start and led the race’s opening laps. Russell had a fair crack and tried to get the lead, but the winningest driver in (V8) Supercars history was having none of that and he maintained his cool and stuck to the plan. It was possible, most believed, to get around 30 laps on a tank of fuel, but they also expected tyres might not allow a full stint. The mandated Dunlop soft was good for speed, but it also had a high wear rate, or degradation, or tyre deg in ‘Skaifey’ and ‘Crompo’ parlance. But the bigger-than-ever fuel tanks also meant a full fill could have a car on the jacks for a minute. So that means double-stacking – the process of having a parked car in either the slow lane or behind a teammate in its pitbox while waiting for its service – had the potential to cruel a day. It would only happen under the safety car, so when the safety car appeared, you didn’t want to be behind your teammate. Richie Stanaway was pitted earlier in #97 than the sister #88 car, then the first safety carto dig Estre out of the sand at Hell Corner hit the track, and Stanaway jumped into the lead of the race. Brown had an
amazing first stint, climbing from 17th to fourth by the safety car, but then he was hit by the double stack and car #9 was on the back foot for the rest of the day. What had changed overnight was the speed relativity. The two Triple Eight cars now had the speed advantage, and the brilliant young Kostecki was the hunter rather than the hunted. It was clear Triple Eight knew how to win this race - up to this point, it had done it a record-equalling (with the Holden Dealer Team) nine times, and it was proving why. The discipline shown during the week to not chase qualifying speed and glory was showing through, not that Erebus had made a mistake, it was just that Triple Eight had engineered a faster car after three days of practice, whereas Erebus had started with a quick car that it fine-tuned. The next safety car was for Dale Wood in André Heimgartner’s R&J Batteries Camaro after Wood and Scott Pye tangled in Murray’s Corner. Wood ended up in the tyres and needed a tow. All the leaders pitted. Stanaway, Whincup, Kostecki and Golding… Whincup double-stacking and dropping way down the order. Kostecki/Russell jumped Stanaway/van Gisbergen and took the effective lead of the race in fifth on the track. Within four laps, #99 was back in the lead. Within five laps, #97 was in second, and within eight laps De Pasquale/Tony D’Alberto was third. This was lap 48
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and with 113 laps left to run, the podium was almost set albeit with a slight shuffle. There were a few twists and turns to come, though. Heimgartner/Wood had an engine failure and James Moffat slammed the wall in the Monster Energy Mustang he was sharing with Waters. That brought out the final safety car for the day, with 90 or so laps left to run. The #97 had used clever pit strategy to regain the lead and the safety car normalised the field and threw the advantage back its way. Most of the leaders stopped, but at Erebus it was outside the pre-race ordained window, so it didn’t stop the second-placed car. Plenty of people said this was where the race was lost, but it wasn’t. It actually had no bearing on the race at all, and given the fact that the two Triple Eight cars were faster, it possibly even gave it a better chance by being on a different strategy. One of the earlier issues for the day – aside from clutch problems on Cameron Hill’s car that required a pitlane start – was a broken mounting plate for the gear selector on car #888. Craig Lowndes’ big guns had broken it while changing gears in the opening stint. The quicker you change gears, the sooner you are on the power, so Lowndes was slamming between gears, and the plate just wasn’t up to it. Word travelled up the pitlane and the main crew at Triple Eight noted the issue, but they felt all was an isolated failure and kept quiet. The middle part of the race was all about positioning for the podium. Van Gisbergen/Stanaway appeared to 60
have a hold on the lead, and Feeney/Whincup seemed to be getting the edge over Kostecki/Russell despite having to double stack twice. De Pasquale/D’Alberto were having a good run and ready to pounce should any of the lead trio strike trouble… which did happen. On Lap 136 with a Red Bull one-two, Broc Feeney’s gear shift plate broke and he was left limping into the pits. His amazing charge to negate two double-stacks was done, and many laps in the pits were needed for the fix. Van Gisbergen was given a sterner warning. Still in control, on the second last pitstop, van Gisbergen returned to the track with a long brake pedal. It was discussed for a few laps and he worked his way around the issue and continued. Both he and Kostecki, at times, picked up chunks of rubber and feared the worst, but they flattened out and all was well. Then, in the last stint for each, steering issues appeared. Van Gisbergen had a flat spot in the steering, but he was able to nurse it home to the end, as did Kostecki. But they couldn’t cut the pace too much, as De Pasquale could still go as fast as he was able, his car was strong and far from limping, and he was ready to jump at any opening that appeared. It was a tense closing to the race and a relief for two teams when the Camaros made it to the end. Van Gisbergen and Stanaway controlled the race pretty much from the first safety car. Triple Eight made all the right calls for this car, while the other one had done an amazing job to even be in podium contention when it struck trouble. Kostecki just didn’t have
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the speed to combat them and left relatively content with second place, which also kept the Championship in his control. For van Gisbergen, it was his third win in four years in possibly his last run at Bathurst as he prepares to head to the US to start his NASCAR career. His racing nous and connection with engineer Andrew Edwards proved the key to the win, along with the drive of Stanaway. For the co-driving Kiwi, this was redemption. A star in everything he had ever raced, Stanaway struggled in his first run in Supercars. Some said he wasn’t supported and the teams weren’t professional, but he didn’t help himself. But the 2023 Stanaway differs from the 2019 version that walked away from motorsport. After his run at Bathurst last year with Greg Murphy, he returns to the sport with a new maturity. Some claim credit for his apparent transformation, but it is down to him and we look forward to seeing what he can do at Grove Racing next year. He didn’t have to star this weekend; he just had to do his job, and the discipline of the Triple Eight team worked with him on that. He’s quiet, and a bit like van Gisbergen in that respect, but he got the job done and has now climbed the highest ground in Australian motorsport. It would be easy for Kostecki to be disappointed with second place. The speed from that car in the leadup had it as the car to beat, but on race day, there
were two cars quicker, so second was a good outcome. Erebus would have been disappointed not to have two cars up there, especially after the blistering opening stint by Brown, but it was happy to bag good points for both cars and to run away and think about cleaning up both titles. De Pasquale was satisfied with the outcome, disappointed it was as good a result as felt could be expected for a Mustang, but content his team and both drivers did all they could to get the podium. With the parity trigger being reached at Bathurst, there was also a sense of ‘we were right, and they were wrong’ when it came to the Ford-Chevrolet parity war. The Gen3 racers held up despite dire warnings. That both first and second limped home with ailments was not too surprising, and in the end, there was only one DNF to a mechanical issue, although there were plenty of running repairs. The 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000 won’t go down as a classic but it will historically record the first race of the new era as a tense battle and possibly the last win for a NASCAR-bound van Gisbergen and a weekend where a bitter class war threatened a divide. He leaves with three titles, and Triple Eight’s 10th draws it to the top of the tree on its own. In the days after the race, Triple Eight revealed that van Gisbergen’s gear lever mount was broken too, and it could have been only seconds from complete failure. Perhaps proving once again, that the Mountain chooses its master. SUPERCAR XTRA
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PARITY IN 2023 T echnical parity is not about a 50 percent win ratio, it is about creating a platform where that is possible if every team does an equal job. Given the chassis and all the running gear are the same under Gen3, the only variables to play with are engines and aero. It seems after a few iterations, the engines are close. The Ford is a complex piece of kit, and the battle has been to tune it to match the Chev, but then it was retuned to make up for some of the aero issues. Getting aero drag, downforce and balance parity hasn’t been so easy, and pretty much everyone acknowledged there was an issue; it was just how to
handle it and if you wanted to do it before the biggest race of the year. The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) maps, when seen side-by-side, confirmed there was not parity between the two models. Erebus CEO Barry Ryan saw the data and agreed to support Ford’s request provided the shift cut in the two engines was returned to the same. If the aero was right, this needed be fixed. But he was a lone wolf among the Chev brigade. Finally armed with the Chev data, but only for the best part of a month, Ford and DJR worked on its solutions. Its proposed aero changes closed the gaps, were multi-faceted and could have been done at
the track. The deeply scalloped front bar where fog lights are on the road car had an infill to smooth the air-flow over that part of the car, reducing the lip on the side in the process. The leading edge of the front flares were also effectively smoothed out with the overall effect of pushing the Mustang nose through the air with less effort. Or reducing the aerodynamic drag if you like. At the rear, there were little additions to the rear wing, maybe 20mm each side, that were attached inside the wing end plates, and the wing was moved back to its pre-Townsville position. According to the data, the net effect was about a 2kg reduction in drag and a 14kg increase in
rear downforce, dealing with what Ford believes were its two disadvantages. Ford’s data said on CFD it was as close to technical parity as we had seen this year, only it didn’t get the nod. Supercars didn’t disagree, but it didn’t matter as all the Chev teams, except Erebus, weren’t having anything of it. So, after a few days of wrangling, finger-pointing, blamestorming and negotiations, the status quo remained. An official statement from Ford confirmed there would be no changes. But then at Bathurst, the parity trigger was reached for the second time in 2023, and the Mustang you saw racing in the final two events had those changes and a little bit more.
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REPCO BATHURST 1000 RESULTS POS.
97 Shane van Gisbergen / Richie Stanaway Triple Eight Race Engineering
99 Brodie Kostecki/ David Russell
11 Anton de Pasquale / Tony D’Alberto
Dick Johnson Racing
25 Chaz Mostert / Lee Holdsworth
Walkinshaw Andretti United
26 David Reynolds / Garth Tander
James Courtney / Zak Best
14 Bryce Fullwood / Dean Fiore
Brad Jones Racing
Will Brown / Jack Perkins
34 Jack Le Brocq /Jayden Ojeda
Matt Stone Racing
31 James Golding / Dylan O’Keeffe
19 Matthew Payne / Kévin Estre
55 Thomas Randle / Garry Jacobson
23 Tim Slade / Jonathon Webb
Walkinshaw Andretti United
35 Cameron Hill /Jaylyn Robotham
Matt Stone Racing
17 Will Davison / Alex Davison
Dick Johnson Racing
20 Scott Pye / Warren Luff
56 Declan Fraser / Tyler Everingham
Aaron Love / Jake Kostecki
Blanchard Racing Team
98 Simona de Silvestro / Kai Allen
Dick Johnson Racing
Jack Smith / Jaxon Evans
Brad Jones Racing
96 Macauley Jones / Jordan Boys
Brad Jones Racing
88 Broc Feeney / Jamie Whincup
Triple Eight Race Engineering
24 888 Craig Lowndes / Zane Goddard
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Out of fuel
Nick Percat / Fabian Coulthard
DNF 18 Mark Winterbottom / Michael Caruso
Todd Hazelwood / Tim Blanchard
Blanchard Racing Team
Cameron Waters/ James Moffat
André Heimgartner / Dale Wood
Brad Jones Racing
Fastest lap set by Will Brown – 2:07.5431 on Lap 4 66
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