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CLASS OF 2021 COLLECTORS’ POSTER

ISSUE 121

SUPERCARXTRA.COM.AU

RETROSPECTIVE

HOW HOLDEN WON THE V8 ERA WAR

ISSUE 121 AUS $10.95 ISSN 1442-9926

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MEDIA WATCH BEHIND THE LATEST TV DEAL TRIPLE EIGHT MAKING SENSE OF THE CHANGES ANALYSIS THE STATE OF PLAY FROM THIS SEASON COLUMNS LOWNDES & WINTERBOTTOM EXCLUSIVES


ISSUE 121 SUPERCARXTRA.COM.AU 6 ANALYSIS: THE GREAT PADDLE SHIFT DEBATE An examination of why the prospect of a paddle shift has led to so much angst amongst Supercars drivers. 8 ANALYSIS: SVG THE ONE TO BEAT Shane van Gisbergen’s remarkable start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship. 10 ANALYSIS: CHANGING OF THE GUARD How the impending introduction of Gen3 has led to the arrival of new investors into Supercars teams. 12 ANALYSIS: TYRES GOING SUPER SOFT The debut of Dunlop’s new super soft tyre and the trend to softer rubber. 14 ANALYSIS: DIGGING INTO THE ARCHIVES What you’ll find in Supercars’ SuperArchive full-race replay playlist.

16 WINTERBOTTOM COLUMN Mark Winterbottom on Gen3 and the future direction of Supercars. 18 LOWNDES COLUMN Craig Lowndes on Jamie Whincup’s full-time retirement and the changes at Triple Eight Race Engineering. 22 FEATURE: THE STATE OF TRIPLE EIGHT Examining the changing of the guard at Triple Eight Race Engineering with Roland Dane, Tony Quinn and Jamie Whincup. 34 FEATURE: RISING WATERS The rise of Cameron Waters into the role of team leader at Tickford Racing and Ford’s championship challenger. 40 FEATURE: A RACER’S RACER The immediate impact Brodie Kostecki is having in his fulltime rookie season.

46 FEATURE: TELEVISION NUMBERS GAME The changes to Supercars’ media-rights deal and the evolution of the landscape. 52 FEATURE: HOW HOLDEN WON THE WAR A retrospective on how Holden prevailed over Ford in the V8 Supercars era. 56 FEATURE: THE TECHNICAL UNDERGROUND The technical developments that defined the battle between the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. 60 FEATURE: AROUND THE BEND What The Bend Motorsport Park has to offer beyond the race track. 66 FROM THE ARCHIVES A look back to the start of the Car of the Future era at the 2013 Adelaide 500.

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/SupercarXtra @SupercarXtra @SupercarXtra

THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS

T

he 2021 Repco Supercars Championship has kicked into life and there’s fascinating subplots to keep an eye on throughout the grid. In this edition of SupercarXtra Magazine, we focus on four drivers at the forefront of our attention who are all at different stages of their careers – Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen, Cameron Waters and Brodie Kostecki. Whincup will retire from full-time driving at the end of 2021, bringing to an end a remarkable career headlined by his record-breaking seven championship wins. His teammate van Gisbergen is assuming the role of the new dominator in Supercars, starting the 2021 championship with a dominant run of victories. Waters is stepping up as a consistent challenger and as Ford’s leading hope following the departure of Scott McLaughlin, while Kostecki is making waves in his fulltime rookie season at Erebus Motorsport.

We also take stock of the changes at Triple Eight Race Engineering for 2021 and 2022, with Whincup preparing to take over as team manager from Roland Dane. With new owners and the Chevrolet Camaro set to replace the Holden Commodore, it’s the biggest change for the team since it entered the category in 2003. Elsewhere, we examine what the latest television deal means for Supercars. With the media-rights landscape changing at a rapid pace and the category set to move into the Gen3 era, it’s a good time to assess where Supercars stands and how it’s being presented to its fanbase. We also take a trip to The Bend Motorsport Park and look at what’s on offer at Australia’s newest permanent circuit. The ‘Analysis’ section looks at the latest news surrounding Supercars, with a particular focus on what’s ahead with the change to Gen3. Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom share their thoughts in their columns, with Lowndes commenting

on the changes at Triple Eight Race Engineering and Winterbottom on the future of Supercars. We also look back at the V8 era of Supercars, in particular how Holden prevailed over Ford between 1993 and 2012. With Holden and the Commodore approaching their end in Australian touring cars, the retrospective features remind us of the key role the Holden versus Ford rivalry played in the evolution of the category. We also remember the start of the Car of the Future era at the 2013 Adelaide 500 in our ‘From the Archives’ section. The print edition of this issue includes a pullout poster featuring the Supercars class of 2021 on one side and Whincup’s Triple Eight cars on the other. Visit us at SupercarXtra. com.au for the latest news and to shop at our online store, or keep in touch with us on our social media channels on Twitter and Instagram (both @SupercarXtra) and on Facebook (facebook.com/ SupercarXtra). Enjoy! – Adrian

INCORPORATING V8X MAGAZINE PUBLISHER Allan Edwards Raamen Pty Ltd trading as V8X PO Box 225, Keilor, VIC 3036 publisher@supercarxtra.com.au EDITOR Adrian Musolino editor@supercarxtra.com.au SUB EDITORS Krystal Boots, Amanda Salmon DESIGNER Thao Trinh CONTRIBUTING JOURNALISTS John Bannon, Andrew Clarke, James Crocker, Jordan Mulach, Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom 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 Brendon Sheridan Phone: 0425 047 969 advertising@supercarxtra.com.au EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Phone: (03) 9372 9125 Fax: (03) 8080 6473 office@supercarxtra.com.au ACCOUNTS Bookkeeper: Mark Frauenfelder accounts@supercarxtra.com.au MERCHANDISE & SUBSCRIPTIONS Phone: (03) 9372 9125 office@supercarxtra.com.au 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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2020 BATHURST 1000 THE LEGEND OF AUSTRALIA’S ICONIC MOTOR RACE

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THE GREAT PADDLE SHIFT DEBATE

The Gen3 rules have been widely praised amongst the Supercars fraternity; however, the probable implementation of paddle-shift gears instead of the current sequential gearstick shifter has raised the ire of many and strikes at the heart of the debate over what should differentiate a Supercar compared to other race cars.

G

en3 will pave the way for the Chevrolet Camaro to replace the Holden Commodore, see a significant reduction in downforce to improve racing quality and allow for Supercars to share the same dimensions and interchangeable components with their respective road-going versions. While these changes are seen as massive steps in the right direction, it’s the likely introduction of paddle-shift gears that has been the big

6

talking point around Gen3. The concern amongst many is that it will take away a key skillset that’s been at the core of touring-car racing and would make the cars more like a GT-spec racer. The probable switch is in keeping with cost-cutting measures around Gen3, with the change to paddle shifts assisting in the move to longer-life engines. The introduction of paddle shift and an automated throttle blip would mark the end of the heel-and-toe technique,

with leading drivers claiming it would diminish the challenge of racing a Supercar. Shane van Gisbergen said Supercars should “throw paddle shift in the bin,” and he’s been joined by the likes of David Reynolds, Nick Percat, Brodie Kostecki and more in criticising the proposed move. Percat went as far as saying it would kill his love for driving a Supercar. While the change will make it easier to drive a Supercar, it’s hoped the challenge of driving the cars will be significantly

increased by the large decrease in downforce. A reduction of two-thirds of the aero levels will make the cars more unstable and easier to follow and, therefore, pass each other. But the change to the gear shifting will still significantly alter how Supercars are driven. Former driver turned commentator Mark Larkham explained the difference the change will make on Supercars’ Tuesday Night Takeaway web-show: “Why don’t I like paddle

SUPERCAR XTRA

SCX121 p6-7 Analysis Gen3_converted 6

9/4/21 3:23 pm


shift? What goes with that is electronics around your throttle, so you have auto throttle blip. November 2017 - Order Form No.1 “One of the major skill sets of a race driver is his ability Customer___Pole Position P/L Debtor ID___________________________ to down change the gears, Order No.__________________________ Rep Name__________________________ brake, roll his ankle over and Order Date___December 02, 2017 Delivery Date________________________ blip the throttle to match the engine and throttle on your Item Classic Carlectables Description No. downshift so you don’t lock up 2 Qtr 18644 750 149.00 259.00 2018 your rear tyres. 2 Qtr 18654 1,000 149.00 259.00 2 2018 “A lot of drivers intentionally downshift early and Orders can be made by: over-rev the engine to use Mail: Southern Model Supplies Fax: 08 8277 6252 that retardation as a driving PO Box 405 Melrose Park SA 5039 E-mail: sales@southernmodels.com.au technique. “What you’ve done is take away a massive skillset required by a driver to manage These special livery model cars have just been announced andBeare available Orders Must Received By 30th November 2017 his racing effort. I don’t agree now with anything that takes that to pre-order. It’s a great model to add to your collection! away. ∗∗∗ IMPORTANT NOTE ∗∗∗ Please place your orders by return email, fax or post only. “I understand the argument; Phone orders will no longer be accepted. when drivers over-rev an engine it stresses the valve system and sometimes a November DELIVERIES valve kisses a piston. It does The following will commence being dispatched on approximately 23 November 2017 damage, and it costs money. Paddle shifts will represent the most But for me, this is the same as 18612 1/18 Holden VS Commodore – 1997 Bathurst 1000change - Lowndes /to Murphy 750 Sold Out significant gear-shifting asking a driver to manage his 18636 1/18 Retro Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III 1000 Sold Out in Supercars since the H-pattern D O N tyres. gearbox was phased out. ’T MISS OU “If a driver chooses to down T “I want I saw at “How is it that we all drove park them there and we’ll do change early as part of his PRwhat E OisRthe Sandown, which cars in an era that had H-patdriver interviews all day? That technique and that’s costing Dbest ER touring car drivers in the terns? We had exactly the will save a bundle of money. the team money, and we’re world changing gears, making same problem. I didn’t have a “The real downside if we go going to make rules around lot of money, but I survived. It down this route is that it’s kind mistakes, braking, heel-andthat driver’s decision, I think can be done. of like everyone can do it. If toeing... that’s part of the skill that’s wrong. “If you go the other way we grab the soccer posts and of the sport.” “What we need is to have the around and make a set of rules make them 15 metres wider Keep up to date with the car, engine, shifting all around to save money, well why don’t and everyone can kick a goal, latest news around Gen3 driver skill. And let the drivers just take the cars, drive who’s going to turn up and and more in Supercars at and the teams EW how you Ndetermine them to the end of pitlane, watch that? SupercarXtra.com.au. they manage that.

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SCX121 p6-7 Analysis Gen3.indd 7

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9/4/21 3:35 pm


Shane van Gisbergen has backed up his 2020 Bathurst 1000 win with a dominant start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.

SVG THE ONE TO BEAT S

Shane van Gisbergen is at the top of his game with a winning start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship seeing him become the red-hot favourite for the drivers’ title. upercars has seen a transition from one dominant New Zealander to another with Shane van Gibsergen continuing where countryman Scott McLaughlin left off from 2020 into 2021. With McLaughlin departing Supercars for IndyCars, following three consecutive championship wins, van Gisbergen confirmed his status as the pre-season favourite with a dominant run of consecutive wins to start the championship in 2021. Van Gisbergen’s winning run included a stunning performance in the wet at Sandown in March, where he overcame an injured collarbone that was operated on two weeks earlier and broken ribs to win from 17th place on the grid. The performance left the rest of the grid stunned, with van Gisbergen now

8

the red-hot favourite to win the championship for what would be his second title success for Triple Eight Race Engineering. “Massive kudos to Shane for what he has just achieved with his shoulder and everything, massive respect,” said Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters, one of van Gisbergen’s closest challengers at the start of 2021. “You can’t write him off ever, can you?” The challengers to van Gisbergen include teammate Jamie Whincup, in his final full-time season; Waters, who has been the leading Ford Mustang in the early stages of the season; and the ever-improving combination of Chaz Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United. “He’s on a roll at the moment, but there are other guys that are working very, very hard,” said fellow New Zealand Supercars great Greg Murphy.

“Shane knows there’s going to be moments throughout the year when other people have everything they need and are running at their absolute best.” Van Gisbergen is closing in on McLaughlin’s 56-win total, the most for a New Zealander in the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars, with 2021 his 15th season in the championship – one with Team Kiwi Racing, five with Stone Brothers Racing, three with Tekno Autopsorts and six and counting with Triple Eight Race Engineering. Van Gisbergen started the year with a remarkable win in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs, where he defeated a strong field driving identical Toyota Racing Series cars despite starting from pitlane. He’s also claimed wins in the Australian GT Championship and the Bathurst 6 Hour in 2021, becoming the second

driver in history to win the Bathurst 1000, Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 6 Hour, along with Paul Morris. With such dominant performances in Supercars and Bathurst and championship wins already achieved in Australia, the question will be whether the 31-year-old will follow in the footsteps of McLaughlin and venture overseas. While van Gisbergen will be the undisputed number one at Triple Eight Race Engineering, with Whincup retiring from full-time driving at the end of 2021, he could also add to his international pedigree that already includes a Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title, third place in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Series and a class runners-up finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Visit SupercarXtra.com. au to follow the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.

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SCX121 p8 Analysis SVG_converted 8

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Debtor ID___________________________

Order No.__________________________

Rep Name__________________________

Order Date___December 02, 2017

Delivery Date________________________

SCALE 1:18 Item No.

Scheduled Production

Classic Carlectables Description

18644

1/18 1966 Pony Mustang – Wimbledon White with Red Interior

18654

1/18 Holden VK Commodore – 1986 Wellington 500 Winner Brock / Moffat

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750

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3 SIZES SCALE 1:18 $179 +p&h SCALE 1:43 $39.99 +p&h SCALE 1:64 $19.95 +p&h Item No.

Customer___Pole Position P/L

Debtor ID___________________________

Order No.__________________________

Rep Name__________________________

Order Date___December 02, 2017

Delivery Date________________________

Classic Carlectables Description

18644

1/18 1966 Pony Mustang – Wimbledon White with Red Interior

18654

1/18 Holden VK Commodore – 1986 Wellington 500 Winner Brock / Moffat

Orders can be made by: Mail: Southern Model Supplies PO Box 405 Melrose Park SA 5039

Fax: 08 8277 6252 E-mail: sales@southernmodels.com.au

Mail: Southern Model Supplies PO Box 405 Melrose Park SA 5039

∗∗∗ IMPORTANT NOTE ∗∗∗ Please place your orders by return email, fax or post only. Phone orders will no longer be accepted.

November DELIVERIES

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nd

nd

W/S $

RRP $

149.00

259.00

149.00

259.00

Order Qty

2

Fax: 08 8277 6252 E-mail: sales@southernmodels.com.au

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VISIT STORE: Shop 2 / 30 Holmes Road, Moonee Ponds, VIC 3039 BY APPOINTMENT ONLY November DELIVERIES

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2 Qtr 2018

∗∗∗ IMPORTANT NOTE ∗∗∗ Please place your orders by return email, fax or post only. Phone orders will no longer be accepted.

The following will commence being dispatched on approximately 23rd November 2017 CLASSIC CARLECTABLES

Due

750

1,000

Orders can be made by:

Orders Must Be Received By 30th November 2017

ITEM NO.

Scheduled Production

LE

AVAILABILITY

18612

1/18 Holden VS Commodore – 1997 Bathurst 1000 - Lowndes / Murphy

750

Sold Out

18636

1/18 Retro Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III

1000

Sold Out

The following will commence being dispatched on approximately 23rd November 2017

ITEM NO.

CLASSIC CARLECTABLES

LE

AVAILABILITY

AUSTRALIA-WIDE DELIVERY 18612

1/18 Holden VS Commodore – 1997 Bathurst 1000 - Lowndes / Murphy

750

Sold Out

18636

1/18 Retro Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III

1000

Sold Out

9/4/21 3:53 pm


CHANGING OF

The number of new investors and owners into Supercars teams is accelerating with the impending arrival of Gen3, changing the face of pitlane in 2021 and into 2022.

T

riple Eight Race Engineering is the latest team to welcome new investors into the fold, with the number of new partners in teams notably increasing ahead of the arrival of Gen3. And while the recent trend saw international teams buying into teams, the newest investors are coming from within Australia and New Zealand. Team Penske joined forces with Dick Johnson Racing and Andretti Autosport and United Autosports with

Walkinshaw Racing in the mid to late 2010s. However, Team Penske’s departure at the end of 2020 and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have put a halt to more significant international investors getting involved. With the Grove Group/ Grove Racing purchasing a majority stake in Kelly Racing to form Kelly Grove Racing and Tony Quinn taking on a major shareholding in Triple Eight Race Engineering, it represents the arrival of new players from within Australian and New Zealand motorsport.

With cost cutting a key pillar of the Gen3 rules and a $200 million five-year broadcast deal locked in till 2025, the arrival of new investors has been a positive for Supercars in the wake of the uncertainty that followed the demise of Holden. “If the Gen3 cars are half the cost to run and purchase but the income remains the same by and large, then the business is strong… there’s a pretty easy business strategy to figure that out,” says Quinn, in an exclusive interview with SupercarXtra Magazine. ON DISPLAY

1972

OWS YOUR “NO ONE KN N S.” KE SHANNO PA S S I O N L I

IN THE EARLY 1970S PETER BROCk WAS LITTLE MORE THAN YOUNG HOPEFUL. HE HAD ALREADY EXPERIENCED A THIRD PLACE AT BATHURST IN 1969 CO-DRIVING A HDT MONARO WITH DES WEST, BUT THE

The Groves have been regulars in the Australian GT scene in recent years, while Quinn has run the GT championship and owns two circuits in New Zealand: Hampton Downs and Highlands. The arrival of significant players in the GT world ahead of the Gen3 switch is no surprise, with the next-generation rules paving the way for the Chevrolet Camaro to replace the Holden Commodore and the new control chassis being reduced in size to broaden the range of cars that can enter the category.

W

WET RACE OF 1972 WAS TO BE THE FIRST OF BROCk’S NINE

VICTORIES IN THE GREAT RACE. FOLLOWING IS

A POSSIBLE TRACk COMMENTARY FROM

THE DAY…!”

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THE “HOLYWOOD FINISH”

CHAPTER 9

OVER

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1978

76

77

R 10

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9/4/21 3:21 pm


THE GUARD

Supercars has responded to the arrival of new owners by putting two Racing Entitlements Contracts (RECs) on the market, in a bid to increase the grid from 24 entries to 26 entries for 2022 or beyond. “This is an opportunity for a new team owner to join the fold or offer an existing team owner the opportunity to expand their program,”said Supercars CEO Sean Seamer. “Supercars has already received interest from several parties to purchase these RECs.” Turn over to page 22 for more on Quinn’s investment in Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Father-and-son Stephen and Brenton Grove (middle and right) joined forces with brothers Todd (left) and Rick Kelly to form Kelly Grove Racing in 2021.

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9/4/21 3:46 pm


TYRES GOING SUPER SOFT

The introduction of Dunlop’s new super soft tyre compound will add further spice to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, as part of the trend to have softer-compound tyres become the norm.

D

unlop’s new super soft tyre will make limited appearances in 2021, but its introduction marks another step in the direction towards the faster yet highly degradable tyre becoming the standard tyre in Supercars. The 2021 season marks the first time there will be three dry-weather tyre compounds used over the course of a championship campaign, in a year in which Dunlop celebrates its 20th season as the control tyre supplier of Supercars. The new super soft tyre was given its first hit-out at Queensland Raceway in

November 2020 with Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Jamie Whincup and Dick Johnson Racing’s Will Davison. Its racing debut is set for the Winton and Darwin events in 2021. As opposed to 2020, there’s no mixed tyre compound events in 2021. This will avoid the jumbled set of results across an event, as witnessed in 2020, which often depended heavily on which compound tyre was used in which race. However, the use of the softer tyres across the whole event/race means tyre degradation be will even more of a factor. The hard tyre will only be used at Mount Panorama,

Bathurst, and Pukekohe, New Zealand, given the high loads on the tyres at those circuits. The soft tyre will be used at the rest of the events, aside from the two aforementioned events on the super soft tyre. Drivers have been pushing for the increased use of softer tyres in recent years, not only as it gives them more grip but also as tyre management becomes a greater factor in their performance and results. “Dunlop is excited to offer a new super soft tyre in 2021 alongside the soft, hard and wet tyre configurations to help Supercars deliver the most exciting racing possible for the fans,” said Dunlop Tyres managing director, Chris Radin.

“Tyre management strategies will become an even more important variable in race winning success, generating plenty of Dunlop tyre talk up and down pitlane, while keeping race fans thoroughly entertained.” Dunlop first introduced a soft tyre in Supercars at Winton in 2009. Its use saw lap times tumble and gave Supercars the option to use both hard and soft tyres in a race to mix up the field. The move away from mixedtyre events is to avoid confusing the audience with drivers on different tyres and avoid the trend of drivers sacrificing a race to save tyres to go all-out in another race.

Dunlop is celebrating its 20th season as the control tyre supplier of Supercars with the introduction of a new super soft compound.

12

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DIGGING INTO THE ARCHIVES

Supercars’ new media-rights deal not only gives fans outside of Australia and New Zealand the chance to watch races live on YouTube, it’s also opened up the archives to give fans from anywhere in the world the chance to watch full-race replays from 1997 to 2014.

S

upercars fans outside of Australia and New Zealand can now watch the championship live on YouTube. SuperView is available via the Supercars website for $59.99 per year, in addition to a $5.99 per month subscription service on YouTube. Both services provide uninterrupted coverage of all practice, qualifying and race sessions as well as support categories. Supercars is the first Australian sport to utilise YouTube’s membership offering,

providing fans with more options when it comes to watching the championship. For fans in Australia and New Zealand, there’s the bonus of having full-race replays from the 1997 to 2014 Supercars championships free to watch on YouTube with the SuperArchive playlist. “This is a huge win for fans who can now watch some of the sport’s biggest moments, whenever they want, wherever they want,” said Supercars digital transformation manager, Dijana Barbarich.

The digital push coincides with the start of the new-for-2021 television deal, which sees Fox Sports Australia remain as the main broadcaster of Supercars in Australia and the Seven Network taking over from Network 10 as the free-to-air television broadcaster. The full catalogue of races between 1997 and 2014 will be available by the end of 2021, with more than 180 races already uploaded onto the playlist. SupercarXtra Magazine will be tapping into the SuperArchive playlist, linking you

to classic races and providing context to the race coverage. See page 66 as an example, as we reflect back on the start of the Car of the Future era at the 2013 Adelaide 500. Turn over to page 46 for more on the current mediarights deal. Scan the QR code below to view the SuperArchive.

Full-race replays on the SuperArchive include the dramatic 2014 Bathurst 1000. Scan the QR code below to watch the race.

14

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EXPERT INSIGHT

BEYOND THE WHEEL Column by Mark Winterbottom

GEN3 AND BEYOND

W

hat we’ve seen of Gen3 so far has been really positive. The initial car designs look really nice – wider, lower, racier and, importantly, more like the road-going versions of the cars. The look of the cars is crucial, as they need to be appealing not only as racing cars but also with some relevance to their base models. Comparing the current Mustang Supercar to the Gen3 design, it’s certainly more true to the real shape of the road car. The significant reduction in aerodynamics has been one of the big talking points. The percentage of downforce cut looks to be very significant, which will make the cars a lot more reliant on mechanical grip. This should mean we’ll be able to run bumper-to-bumper with less disturbance from the car ahead, which has become more noticeable in recent years as the aero on the cars increased with the introduction of each new model. It’s been particularly noticeable at places like the top of Mount Panorama at Bathurst, where it becomes quite hard to follow another car through the high-speed corners and stay close enough to launch an overtake at the likes of The Chase. In contrast, at tracks like Sandown and Symmons Plains, the racing has been better because you can rely on a stronger run out of the slowspeed corners for an overtake. 16

If the balance changes to more mechanical grip and less aero, then that should mean better racing. How much more difficult the cars are to drive remains to be seen, with teams sure to find new ways to find grip. While the use of so many standard parts is unappealing for some, the reality is it’s crucial to not only achieve parity but also to make the category affordable for teams. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks really good and results should come down to the teams and drivers more so than the equipment with closer racing. If that’s the case, then it’s very positive for Supercars. The debate around the potential change to a paddle shift hopefully doesn’t overshadow the other positives that will come from Gen3. At the end of the day, it’s a personal preference and if it helps to reduce costs and get more entries onto the grid, then it will be a good thing. Sure, the paddle shift takes away some of the skill of driving a Supercar, which is why I’m personally not in favour of it. I used a paddle shift when racing in Brazilian touring cars, and while it felt okay, it reduced the challenge. At the end of the day, the prospect of an all-muscle car battle between the Camaro and the Mustang is exciting for Supercars. And I can’t wait to be racing a Camaro, which will be a more fitting rival for the Mustang than the current Commodore.

There’s certainly a lot of excitement within the team. When there’s such a significant change such as Gen3 and the arrival of a new car like the Camaro, it’s a chance for teams to reset, go back to square one, and use all of our experience to get the job done. While it will be good to see new manufacturers enter, the reality is that Camaro versus Mustang has its own history in Australian touring cars and still represents the General Motors versus Ford battle

that’s been at the core of the sport. Hopefully if other manufacturers do enter it will be with cars that look the goods and are a good match for the Camaro and Mustang, like the Kia Stinger. Once Gen3 gets going and they see how good the cars look, how good the racing will hopefully be and how healthy and affordable Supercars is, then it will become an attractive proposition. – Frosty

“BASED ON WHAT WE’VE SEEN SO FAR, IT LOOKS REALLY GOOD AND RESULTS SHOULD COME DOWN TO THE TEAMS AND DRIVERS MORE SO THAN THE EQUIPMENT WITH CLOSER RACING.”

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EXPERT INSIGHT

RIGHT ON TRACK

Column by Craig Lowndes

JAMIE’S BIG MOVE

I

t’s been a big start to the season for Triple Eight Race Engineering, on and off the track. Jamie Whincup’s decision to retire from full-time driving at the end of 2021 and take over management of the team from Roland Dane wasn’t necessarily a surprise for us, apart from the timing. I thought he would race for another season, especially with the chance to drive the Gen3 Camaro, but he clearly felt the time was right. It was always going to happen at some point, and Jamie has been building himself up to move in that direction over the last couple of years. Roland has been running the team from the beginning, so he obviously has faith that Jamie is the right person to continue the team’s journey. There’s no doubt that Jamie has been the best driver in this era of Australian touring cars, having won seven championships in such a competitive era. The way he’s approached racing has been second-tonone, and the attention to detail he demonstrated as a driver will hold him in good stead as a team manager. His ability to extract the sort of performances that made such a difference on track can be traced back to his work ethic; he is always digging through data to find that last hundredth and tenth of a second. Jamie’s raw speed was there from the time he joined

18

Triple Eight in 2006. The way he developed forced me to become a better driver, and hopefully I had the same impact on him. Roland may be stepping down at the end of the season, but he won’t be out of the picture, especially next year as he will make sure Jamie can settle into his new role. Also, with the arrival of Tony Quinn into the ownership structure, Jamie will have some great people around him. Roland, Jamie and Tony are motorsport people throughand-through. And they will continue to drive the team forward with the winning mentality that’s been built up over the years. Plus, Jamie has developed his own business interests in recent years. Those experiences and the characteristics that have made him so successful on and off the track will help in his transition into the new role. While Jamie is in his final full-time season, Shane van Gisbergen has stepped up to another level. He put in a lot of work in the off-season and is always driving something. He has certainly confirmed his favouritism tag with his performances at the start of this season. Jamie’s obviously made his announcement and is still very competitive, but I know what it’s like when you finally make that decision to step down as a full-time driver; your focus does change slightly. And you can see that with the changing of the gap within the team.

As Jamie will find out, we never lose the racer inside of us. Even after walking away from the intensity of racing in Supercars, there’s still the enjoyment of getting behind the wheel and going racing. For me, racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup has been great for that very reason. It’s a fun car to drive, a very

forgiving car, but, obviously, a very differently configured car from a Supercar. After everything that happened last year, it’s just great to be racing again. And the time in the Porsche will only help my preparation for getting back into the Supercar at Bathurst in October. – Craig

“THE WAY HE DEVELOPED FORCED ME TO BECOME A BETTER DRIVER, AND HOPEFULLY I HAD THE SAME IMPACT ON HIM.”

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TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

WORDS Andrew Clarke IMAGES Peter Norton, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Triple Eight Race Engineering is undergoing its biggest change since arriving in Supercars with a change of ownership ahead of a switch of cars. The foundation team boss Roland Dane is getting ready to step aside to allow the team’s most successful driver, Jamie Whincup, to take over control of the team into 2022, while the Chevrolet Camaro gets ready to replace the Holden Commodore and Tony Quinn has already taken on majority ownership. In this in-depth feature, we look at what it means for the most successful team in the modern Supercars era with exclusive interviews with Dane, Quinn and Whincup. 22

SUPERCAR XTRA

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SUPERCAR XTRA

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13/4/21 11:01 am


TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

Jamie Whincup (left) will replace Roland Dane (middle) as team principal in 2022, while Jessica Dane takes on an increased ownership stake.

24

S

ince his arrival in Australia in 2003, Roland Dane has been a dominant figure on the Australian motor-racing scene. The Irishman, now an Australian, purchased Briggs Motor Sport with his Triple Eight Race Engineering business in 2003, and went on to build the most successful team in Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars history. First it was Team Betta Electrical, then Team Vodafone - and in the middle of that there was a switch from Ford to Holden - and now Red Bull Ampol Racing. There were offshoots for Craig Lowndes, a Dunlop Super2 Series entry here and there and some GT racing, but at the core was the big team out of Banyo, just next to Brisbane Airport, which also became the homologation team for Holden and now GM Special Vehicles with the Gen3 Camaro development. Dane was, and perhaps still is, the strongest personality amongst the team owners, even if he has been diluting his ownership over the past few years. In many respects, he is as well-known as his drivers. In 2005, a little more than two years after Dane’s arrival, Lowndes should have won Bathurst for the team. In 2006 he did with Jamie Whincup, and that brought a few tears to Dane’s eyes – winning Bathurst was his goal when he came to Australia. They backed that up in 2007 and 2008 for a famous three-peat.

Triple Eight and Whincup also started winning titles, in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017, with Shane van Gisbergen chipping in with the 2016 title in his first season with the team. That’s eight in all, and seemingly well on the way for another courtesy of van Gisbergen in 2021. More Bathurst wins in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2020 added to the tally of race victories, which now stands at over 200, with the team the first to achieve that milestone in championship history. On raw numbers, Dane built the best. And he did it with the sort of ruthlessness required to dominate in motorsport. His take no prisoners approach, though, hasn’t always made him the most popular person in pitlane, and while not directly asking him the question, you get the feeling he doesn’t care about that too much. Now 65, he started his succession planning a few years ago after buying out two of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s three shareholders (see table on the right). From there it has been a shuffle of shareholding that eventually brought his daughter Jessica Dane into the game, with Whincup also stumping up some cash. And now we have prominent motorsport identity Tony Quinn buying a significant shareholding as Dane plans his retirement. “It’s been a long time in the planning, from my point of view, having succession plans in place,” says Dane. “One of the things I did a few years ago was

SUPERCAR XTRA

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TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING’S OWNERSHIP HISTORY

2003–2007 Roland Dane (50%) Peter Butterly (30%) Ian Harrison (10%) Derek Warwick (10%) 2008–2014 Roland Dane (90%) Ian Harrison (10%) 2015–2016 Roland and Jessica Dane (70%) Paul Dumbrell (10%) Trinette Schipkie (10%) Tim Miles (10%) 2017–2019 Roland and Jessica Dane (73.3%) Paul Dumbrell (13.3%) Tim Miles (13.3%) 2020 Roland and Jessica Dane (58.3%) Jamie Whincup (15%) Paul Dumbrell (13.3%) Tim Miles (13.3%) 2021 Tony Quinn (40%) Jessica Dane (30%) Jamie Whincup (19%) Roland Dane (11%) Note: Based on information at hand.

to involve, in a minor way, Tim Miles and Paul Dumbrell, just on the basis that if something happened to me, then the team would have a couple of good people to tap into from a managerial assistance point of view in the short-term, while they sorted out a future. It was important to me that there was a mechanism in place. “Then over the past couple of years it became clear that Jamie wanted to become a part of the future of the team; that he actually wants to become team principal and was interested in replacing me. “He then put his money where his mouth was and bought a shareholding. Two key things for me are that the end of this year is the end of Jamie’s current driving contract, and aligned with the fact that I’ll be 65 in October it is a good time to step down. “Aligning those things then meant that last year we started to look at what that would look like. Jamie is keen to have somebody sitting behind him, and with Jessica going down the road in terms of the commercial side of the business, there were opportunities with several people to fill the hole behind Jamie. “The one that stuck out by a mile was Tony Quinn. Jamie and Jess were both very comfortable with him and his approach, and not only his track record but also his plans. And so I was very happy to help facilitate that happening, and I came up with the final part of this transition plan to play out this year and next.” In some ways, Dane says it will be hard walking away, and you get the feeling he’ll never disappear totally, but he is quietly excited by what lays ahead. COVID-19 freedoms pending, he is looking forward to spending time with his other daughter, Ali, who is still based in the United Kingdom. He is also involved with ‘Racing Together’, a program set-up by Garry Connelly to bring Indigenous

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TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING’S ACHIEVEMENTS

 Nine teams’ championship wins (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)  Eight drivers’ championship wins (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)  Eight Bathurst 1000 wins (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2020)  Seven Sandown 500 wins (2005, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019)  Five Enduro Cup wins (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019)  Two Phillip Island 500 wins (2010, 2011)  One Dunlop Super2 Series championship win (2011)

Australians into motorsport. With Whincup and Jessica Dane, who is studying a law degree to help grow her understanding of the contractual and legal side of the business, he has the Triple Eight genetics encoded, and with Quinn he has found a man with a visionary future for the team and the business. Quinn is quite clear about what he wants to do with Triple Eight, and that is essentially more than just motor racing. And with Whincup and Jessica Dane he has found ideal partners for that vision. He wants to embrace the team’s engineering capability and grow beyond Supercars. An electric Vespa-style scooter is one concept that rolled off his tongue. “If you apply some business logic to it, if the Gen3 cars are half the cost to run and purchase but the income remains the same by and large, then the business is strong… there’s a pretty easy business strategy to figure that out,” explains Quinn. “So I had a look at some teams up and down pitlane. I had a choice of would I invest in Tekno [Team Sydney] because I was already sponsoring it, and I decided that there would be better ways to waste money than that. “Then I went straight to the top of the pile and there’s Dick Johnson Racing and Triple Eight, and I had discussions with both of them. But by far the best opportunity commercially was Triple Eight. “Their deal suited me down to the ground because I wasn’t interested in a full-time job; I wasn’t interested in standing in pitlane and instructing the guys there to do things. I just wanted to remain in the background.

“WHEN I LOOK AT JAMIE AS A YOUNG BUDDING ENTREPRENEUR, I KNOW I WAS A JAMIE ONCE… HE’S A YOUNG MAN WITH AN INTELLIGENT MIND, DRIVEN, KEEN TO SUCCEED… I’M BASICALLY BACKING JAMIE TO DO A GOOD JOB.” – TONY QUINN

Tony Quinn now owns a 40 percent stake in Triple Eight Race Engineering.

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“I must say I’ve been very, very impressed with Jamie. He’s a young man with an intelligent mind, driven, keen to succeed… I’m basically backing Jamie to do a good job.” Pressed harder, Whincup and his future role was one of the keys for Quinn. As he said, he didn’t want a hands-on role with the race team so he needed someone in that role, and that we know is what Jamie will be doing next year and beyond. Jessica Dane was also critical; she has commercial acumen that has been finely tuned over the years working with her father, and soon she will have that law degree in her back pocket. “I could just keep spending my money sponsoring a car… you get plenty of involvement, if that’s what you want to do, but I don’t,” says Quinn. “There’s a saying that an old man with money is looking for a young person with energy and enthusiasm. “The old guy has done it all, he’s made it all, but

he just doesn’t have the energy and enthusiasm anymore. “When I look at Jamie as a young budding entrepreneur, I know I was a Jamie once. He’s a businessman in his own right with the car-wash thing, and he wants to develop that more and grow it. He’s already doing it. “I am basically not being lazy but I’m just backing Jamie with his experience. As far as the race team goes, he’ll be the best team principal you could ever hope for, but he also wants to look further, and that is what I want.” Essentially, with the impending arrival of Gen3 and Whincup and Jessica Dane to run the show, Quinn feels like he is at the front of the wave and ready to ride it to the shore. “If you’ve got a few bars of gold and you stick it in the bank, you get no return for it. If you can stick it into a business, that’s actually at the top of its game and looks like it can continue and reduce costs

Triple Eight is leading the development of the Gen3 Camaro Supercar.

TRIPLE EIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TREND-LINE 1st

2

2

2

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

2

2

3

5th 10th

10

15th 19

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Ford BA Falcon

Ford BA Falcon

Ford BF Falcon

Ford BF Falcon

Ford FG Falcon

Holden VE Commodore

Holden VE Commodore

Holden VE Commodore

Holden VF Commodore

Holden VF Commodore

Holden VF Commodore

Holden VF Commodore

Holden VF Commodore

Holden ZB Commodore

Holden ZB Commodore

Holden ZB Commodore

Ford BA Falcon

2005 2006

Ford BA Falcon

2003 2004

■ Paul Radisich ■ Craig Lowndes ■ Jamie Whincup ■ Shane van Gisbergen SUPERCAR XTRA

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TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

JAMIE WHINCUP’S TRIPLE EIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TREND-LINE 1st

2

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

5th

10th

2

1 3

3 4

5

10

15th

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

■ Ford BA Falcon ■ Ford BF Falcon ■ Ford FG Falcon ■ Holden VE Commodore ■ Holden VF Commodore ■ Holden ZB Commodore somewhat, that’s probably not a bad idea.” Quinn has for many years been involved in all sorts of motorsport ventures, from owning series and racing himself, to building and owning race tracks in New Zealand. You have seen his products on cars for years including VIP Petfood, Darrell Lea and now Local Legends, but there is more to the Quinn and motor racing story than just that. He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, not long after Dane was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He grew up in a wooden caravan built by his father and as young as five he was helping in the family petfood business. Eventually he would run his own business in Scotland, and off the back of a successful sign-writing enterprise he moved to Perth. Two business failures later he moved to New Zealand where he again ran a petfood business before returning to Australia and starting VIP Petfoods. And the rest, as they say, is history. He sold that business a couple of years back for $410 million. He is a competitive person by nature, and motorsport is one of the ways he scratches that itch. “I’ve been in motorsport for basically 20 years as a hobby, but from a business point of view it has been very kind to me with my branded supermarket products,” he says. “It has been a great way of marketing the brands. I’ve always taken an extra shine to motorsport and I’ve obviously competed myself. “About 10 years ago, I built the race track in New Zealand [Highlands Motorsport Park], which was really just an opportunity that arose and allowed me to spend $25 million on something like a toy box, and it actually became a unique product. It became the best track in New Zealand, and then people were calling it one of the best tracks in the world. “It’s got a museum and it’s become a tourist icon. We’ve just opened up toilets over there that are 28

JAMIE WHINCUP’S RECORDS

 Most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars drivers’ titles  Equal most consecutive Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars drivers’ titles  Most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars race wins  Most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars podiums  Most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars pole positions  Most Bathurst 500/1000 wins for a current full-time driver  Most Bathurst 500/1000 podiums for a current full-time driver  Equal most consecutive wins in the Bathurst 500/1000

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world-renowned. Highlands Motorsport Park has been a great journey for me. A couple of years after that I got the chance to take over Hampton Downs and finish it off. I have a great bunch of people in New Zealand doing a great job for me. “I obviously live in Australia, so I’m heavily connected to the motorsport fraternity here. One of my friends – Jamey Blaikie – and I started Carrera Cup in Australia, which has been a real success. Interestingly, back in 2002 Porsche didn’t think it was the right thing for them to do, but Jamey and I got it going and then sold it six years later. “I also own the Aussie Racing Car Series and I owned the GT Series for six or seven years, and took it from being a little bit better than a sort of small town hodgepodge of a series with GT cars in it and created the GT series, which had great support in its heyday. I think I eventually turned my back on it because some of the competitors annoyed the shit out of me and weren’t very reasonable. “I’ve always sponsored the odd Supercar, too. Shane van Gisbergen’s a good friend and he won several races in the VIP car and then I thought that was me done.

“You know, I’ve invested in it. It’s paid me back. Everybody’s happy. Let’s move on. But with the academy in New Zealand, that’s gathering momentum, I found a lot of the young drivers aren’t thinking of Europe and the USA; they are thinking Supercars, so that got me thinking and I looked at the business model and here I am today with Triple Eight.” Aside from Jessica Dane, Whincup is the final piece of the ‘2022 and beyond’ puzzle. His race car expertise is without question. On every measurable score, he is our most successful touring-car driver ever. He is a driver with a detail-focused mind, intelligent and looking for new opportunities and new ways. He is not content with being second, nor just sitting at the top. His desire to move into a role as team principal is well documented; now we just have some dates around it. 2022 is the start of it, but what that means for his driving career is still open. He could do the endurance races, as he says his role will allow that since it is not strictly a race-day job and Dane will be around in some yet to be defined form. So that means the Bathurst 1000, GT races and other options exist.

Dane (right) will help guide Whincup in his transition into team management.

“TWO KEY THINGS FOR ME ARE THAT THE END OF THIS YEAR IS THE END OF JAMIE’S CURRENT DRIVING CONTRACT, AND ALIGNED WITH THE FACT THAT I’LL BE 65 IN OCTOBER IT IS A GOOD TIME TO STEP DOWN.” – ROLAND DANE SUPERCAR XTRA

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TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

Whincup steps down from full-time driving with teammate Shane van Gisbergen at the top of his game.

“I SEE THIS AS A BIG CHALLENGE, AND I SUPPOSE THIS IS MORE FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO COMMENT ON, BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE I’VE EVER ENGAGED MYSELF IN ANY ACTIVITY HALF-ARSED.” – JAMIE WHINCUP “As far as operating goes at a race weekend, that’s the team manager’s role, and our team manager is Mark Dutton,” he says. “The team principal role is certainly different, and there’s no real day-to-day running over a race weekend. There doesn’t need to be any; it’s more strategic in the background.” He says then that there is no full stop on his career just yet: “One of the great things about motorsport is the dual-driver events and other types of categories; there is no cold hard stop. There is no cold turkey. There’s opportunity for retiring drivers to be able to still wind out slowly, rather than having a sudden stop, which has affected so many athletes for a long time.” While van Gisbergen is doing a great job at the moment, one of the challenges for Whincup is to replace himself with someone that can compete with the current dominator of Supercars in equal equipment. A few of the logical doors have closed with the likes of Anton De Pasquale and Will Brown landing good drives, so the door is open for a creative solution, maybe even one as creative as when Dane plucked Whincup from the midfield on a promise and helped turn him into a champion. He resists speculation and says the process will

30

be systematic and thorough as has been pretty much everything in his racing career. While he still owns a car-wash business on the Gold Coast, he will move to Brisbane to further his role within the team. “I see this as a big challenge, and I suppose this is more for other people to comment on, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever engaged myself in any activity half-arsed,” he says. “Anything that I’ve decided to have a crack at, I’ve done with the best of my ability, and it’s up to you guys to analyse whether I’ve done a good or a bad job at that. But I certainly see this as a massive opportunity, a massive chance to have a crack. I’m motivated and I’m turning my personal life upside down to make sure I get the most out of 2022. “We’re very grateful that we have Tony Quinn; he’s going to be a huge asset to Triple Eight. He’s a huge asset to the category, as well. He is here to get results, he’s motivated to grow the business and the great news is he’s given me the opportunity and he so far has done everything he possibly can to empower me to operate at the highest level. “That’s great knowing that he’s got my back and that he’s got confidence in my ability, and I’ll do everything I can to work with him, to grow this Triple Eight business well into the future.”

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CAMERON WATERS

A decade after his Supercars debut as a 17-year-old at Bathurst, Cameron Waters is now ready to challenge for the championship. The Tickford Racing star has emerged as Ford’s leading contender following the departure of reigning champion Scott McLaughlin, and shapes as the biggest threat to Triple Eight Race Engineering in 2021. 34

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WORDS James Crocker IMAGES Supercars, Peter Norton, Jack Martin, Glenis Lindley

T

he 2021 Repco Supercars Championship season has somewhat of a fresh feel to it following the departure of three-time champion Scott McLaughlin and Team Penske from the renamed Dick Johnson Racing at the conclusion of 2020. With someone

SCX121 p34-38 Waters feature.indd 35

so dominant leaving, it presents an opportunity for drivers who have been performing in the shadows to step up, especially drivers on the Blue Oval side of the fence given McLaughlin’s domination in the Ford Mustang. One of those drivers is Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters; a SUPERCAR XTRA

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CAMERON WATERS

young man with a lot of experience who now finds himself as one of the elite drivers on the grid, and one that can fill the gap that was left by McLaughlin as Ford’s leading contender. The 26-year-old has become a regular presence in the Supercars world, having made his debut as a 17-year-old with Kelly Racing in the Bathurst 1000 in 2011 as the winner of the short-lived Shannons Supercar Showdown television show. Following two years of racing in the Bathurst 1000 with Kelly Racing, Waters became a part of Tickford Racing in 2014. After winning the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2015, he made the step up to the main series with the Ford team in 2016. In a series that can feel like a game of musical chairs at times, Waters’ longevity at Tickford Racing is an impressive feat. The partnership has seen him take race wins including a breakthrough Sandown 500 success in 2017 and a first solo win at The Bend Motorsport Park in 2020 - as well as multiple podiums and a regular challenger for pole positions. With the departure of Chaz Mostert at the end of 2019, a year after fellow Tickford Racing stalwart Mark Winterbottom left for another Holden team, Waters became a quasi-leader at Tickford Racing and proved his credentials with second in the 2020 championship standings. 36

It was a real coming of age campaign that had consistency and speed in the face of incredible circumstances, with Waters, Tickford Racing and the rest of the Victorian-based teams forced away from their homes for more than 100 days in order to complete the season. A stunning top-10 Shootout lap at Bathurst marked an arrival of sorts for Waters, out-qualifying the pole position king in McLaughlin on his way to pole position on the biggest stage of the season. Over his time in the main game, Waters has matured from a raw, unrefined rookie to a rounded driver at the top end of the grid; a transformation driven by his constant pursuit of improvement. “I feel like every year and every time you drive the car you learn a little bit, and the off season is a good time to reflect on what you did well and what you did poorly and highlight areas that you can improve,” he reflects. “Every year we try and do that very thing and keep improving, and I definitely feel that I’m a more rounded driver now.” Further highlighting his impressive longevity is the fact that in Waters’ six full-time seasons at Tickford Racing, he has had a staggering nine different teammates, ranging from former champions such as Winterbottom and James Courtney to top-tier drivers like Mostert and Will Davison. With such

Above: Waters’ Monster Energy-backed Ford Mustang has become a regular front-runner since last season, emerging as a championship challenger in 2021. Right: A 17-year-old Waters made his Supercars debut alongside Grant Denyer at Bathurst in 2011. Waters won the Shannons Supercar Showdown television show to earn his spot in the entry, becoming the youngest-ever starter in a Bathurst 500/1000.

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talent around him, Waters has used their knowledge to mould himself into the driver he is today. “I’ve learnt different things off different people,” he says. “When I first stepped into the main game, I had Frosty [Winterbottom] and Chaz who were at different points of their career, and I learned off both of those guys quite a lot. “From that point on, I also learned from Will Davison and JC [Courtney] in different aspects. You always try and learn as much as you can off your teammates. That’s kind of what they’re there for; you’re there to help each other, learn and improve as a team. “I probably learned the most off Frosty and Chaz initially because I had the most to learn at that point in my career.” As well as some of his former teammates, Waters cites Tickford Racing as one of the keys to his rise to the top end of the field. And now he believes that the team is in a position to fight up the front week in, week out. “As a team we’ve done things good and bad and tried to fix those deficits, and slowly we’ve ironed them out,” he says. “As a team we’ve got pretty much everything we need now to be up the front every weekend, which is pretty cool to see how the team has built over all those seasons.” Having finished runner-up in 2020, and with McLaughlin departing for IndyCar, naturally all eyes are focused on Waters as a genuine contender for the 2021 crown. But Waters says he is unaffected by the championship pressure. “It didn’t really affect or worry me, what people were thinking about how I was going to go this year, but for me, you’ve just got to reflect on what you did well and poorly, which we did at the end of 2020, and in the off season we fixed a few of those things,” he explains. “It’s more about focusing on your own performance and just continuing to improve, and if you can do that, hope that you’re doing it at a quicker rate than what your competitors are.” Over the off-season Waters stayed sharp by taking the wheel of a Sprintcar owned by Tickford Racing sponsor McQuinn Electrical. Waters is no stranger to the dirt scene, having won the National Modified Sedan title in 2017. “The sprint car has been so unique, so it’s helped me in multiple ways,” he says. “It’s driving something with which you have to learn again, whereas I’ve been doing Supercars for a long time now and I understand what makes them work and you kind of get in this little bubble of how you drive it. “So to step out of your comfort zone and drive a car that’s so unique, so brutal, with the track changing every time you are out there, it makes you adapt super quick, and there’s multiple things which it’s helping with.” SUPERCAR XTRA

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CAMERON WATERS

“AS A TEAM WE’VE GOT PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING WE NEED NOW TO BE UP THE FRONT EVERY WEEKEND.” – CAMERON WATERS

Waters is the unofficial team leader at Tickford Racing, taking over the mantle from Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert.

38

The early rounds of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship showed Waters’ constant improvement and consistency as he notched up podium finishes as, in most races, the leading Ford Mustang. But the early form of Triple Eight Race Engineering and Shane van Gisbergen has the rest of the field playing catch up already. Technical issues saw Waters lose valuable points across the opening races of the season, though he remains in striking distance should he and his team claw back some of the pace deficit to the leading Holden ZB Commodore. “The season so far hasn’t been too bad for us but, obviously, we’ve had a little bit of bad luck with the power steering pump at Bathurst and also the tyre batch issue at Sandown hurting us slightly as well, so there’s two parts which probably hampered our start,” he says. “In saying that, Shane’s car and the ZB generally has been a pretty quick thing out of the box this year, so there’s a few things we’ve highlighted which we would like to improve with our package. “Hopefully we’ve got enough tools in the toolbox

to be able to do that.” This season may not be the one that sees Waters rise to the top of Supercars just yet, but it seems the 26-year-old is just entering his prime. CAMERON WATERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP TREND-LINE

1st

2 7

8

10th

16

20th

19

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

■ Ford FG X Falcon ■ Ford Mustang

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MAIL TO RAAMEN P/L, PO BOX 225, KEILOR VIC 3036 p39 Skaife book.indd 39

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BRODIE KOSTECKI

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WORDS John Bannon IMAGES Peter Norton, Jack Martin, Supercars

When Brodie Kostecki kept seven-time champion Jamie Whincup at bay lap after lap during last year’s Bathurst 1000, the Perth native announced he was ready for the main game. Fast forward four months to his first qualifying session as a full-time maingame racer at Bathurst, he proved his October efforts were no fluke by making it into the top-10 Shootout. One round later at Sandown, he was on the podium. He is now one of the talking points in the paddock as he continues to impress with Erebus Motorsport.

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rodie Kostecki’s grit against Jamie Whincup at Mount Panorama last October is much talked about and credited for his elevation into the main game for 2021, but his determination to succeed was on full display in very different circumstances 12 months earlier, at the start of the 2019 Bathurst 1000. The Kostecki family operation had done the hard yards to enter their maiden enduro campaign in a wildcard entry for Brodie and cousin Jake Kostecki, beginning at Bathurst with Brodie having the honour of starting the Great Race. “I was very nervous at the start, more so than what I was at the start of this season,” recalls Kostecki. “My family and I had put in so much effort to convert the car from a VF Commodore to a ZB, built a whole lot of stuff to go main-game racing for those three rounds. I felt like there was a whole lot of weight on my shoulders for the start of that race. What would happen if we DNFed or something stupid happened at the start, like a crash or something?” Kostecki explains how pre-race nerves were soon forgotten, when a malfunction with the dry-ice system for his helmet led to potentially serious health consequences as the result of carbon dioxide poisoning. “As soon as I left pitlane, I knew something was wrong. But, the further I went, no oxygen was going to my brain, so my brain pretty much switched off. SUPERCAR XTRA

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“I was pretty much like a zombie driving around. I was quite lucky that I didn’t pass out or my foot didn’t get stuck on the throttle and take other cars out or something stupid like that. “It was definitely a scary moment for me jumping out. When I actually got some fresh air, I didn’t actually know where I was. I was a bit lost but thankfully there are good doctors with Doctor Carl Le and the other medical staff there. They looked after me well and gave me the right treatment and I was able to get back out there in about an hour.” Kostecki was fortunate and he recovered quickly. And, as for his Supercars career, he continued to impress. He starred with an eighth-place finish in the Sandown 500 primary driver sprint race after winning two Dunlop Super2 Series races at the season-opening Adelaide 500 in 2020, prior to his strong showing alongside Anton De Pasquale at Bathurst. The 23-year-old’s drive at Bathurst turned heads up and down pitlane, but in Kostecki’s mind he wasn’t racing any differently to how he’s tried to race his whole career. “Yeah, I think my mindset about going racing doesn’t change depending on the situation I’m in,” he says. “I want to do the best job that I can. If I take the green flag, then you’ve got to believe in yourself and know that you have a chance to win the race. That’s the thinking I take going into every round and every race I do. I jump right in and have a real go at it. That’s always how I’ve gone about my racing.” The West Australian reveals that it wasn’t having the presence of a four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Whincup in his mirrors that made last year’s race challenging, which he and De Pasquale finished in a respectable ninth place. “Definitely Bathurst was a really tricky one for us last year as we were down on power,” he says. “The car wasn’t too bad, we just had to try and defend as much as possible; I think we were third or fourth at the time. I was fighting with Jamie so I got told not to fall back, so that’s what I tried to do. “To be honest, as soon as the helmet goes on, not just for myself but for others, all that stuff goes out the window. It’s just another car on the track that you have to be in front of. I didn’t really care at that point, I was just trying to stay ahead. It might be different for others, but that’s sort of the way that I look at it.” While only 23, Kostecki has been racing for a long time. The former Dunlop Super2 Series race winner first tasted motorsport success with a state karting title in 2007 before heading to America. He won three United States Auto Club Ford Focus Series championships, collecting 27 wins on the way. In 2012, he moved up to stock cars and scored a top-10 finish on debut. The following year he continued racing later models, collecting a win at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina against 42

THE KOSTECKI CLAN Brodie Kostecki is the older cousin of fellow Supercar racers Jake and Kurt Kostecki. Jake is also in his first full-time season with Matt Stone Racing, after a part-time Supercars campaign with the Queensland squad last year. Jake made headlines in 2015 when he entered the V8 Touring Car Series aged just 15 and was a regular in Dunlop Super2 Series from 2016 onwards as part of the family Kostecki Brothers Racing (KRB) team in an ex-Triple Eight Race Engineering Commodore. He made his Bathurst 1000 debut alongside Brodie in 2019, but crashed out of the race. Jake’s older brother Kurt was the first to drive a Supercar back in 2014, debuting for Matthew White Motorsport in a Falcon at just 16 years of age. In 2016, Kurt had his first experience of the main game, when he subbed in for an injured Lee Holdsworth at Team 18 for two events. Kurt enjoyed further main-game experience in 2018 via KBR wildcard entries and finished runner-up in the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2019 racing for Triple Eight Race Engineering. The 22-year-old made his maiden enduro appearance at Walkinshaw Andretti United alongside Bryce Fullwood last year. On the relationship with his cousins, Brodie says: “Yeah, it’s definitely really cool for Jake and myself to be racing full-time. It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do as kids. We’ve taken different pathways to get here, but at the end of the day it’s pretty cool to sit down and have dinner at the table and talk about our days. Never in my lifetime or in their lifetime would we have thought that this could have happened.”

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“YOU JUST WANT TO HAVE SOMETHING OVER THE GUY NEXT TO YOU. WHEN YOU’RE ALL STANDING IN A LINE FOR SOMEONE TO PICK YOU UP TO BE THEIR DRIVER, THEY HAVE TO HAVE A REASON TO PICK YOU.” – BRODIE KOSTECKI

NASCAR stars Ty Dillon and Bubba Wallace. Later he competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, scoring two poles, one track record and a top-five finish before returning home in 2017 to race the Dunlop Super2 Series in an older generation FG Falcon run by Matt Stone Racing. “My pathway has been a bit different to most; looking back at it now, it has definitely made me who I am today,” says Kostecki. “Going over to race in America at a pretty young age forced me to grow up pretty quickly and I had to mature very quickly as well. It was pretty serious; my family put a lot into me going over there. We sold our house, so it was important that I put as much effort as I could into it. I spent all my free time learning about the cars, understanding how they work and the mechanical side of things as well. I spent as much time as I could at the track. “Racing over there is a lot different to racing in Australia. There is a bigger population over there, so there is a lot more people racing as well. But trying to make it to the top step over there is the same here. There’s only 26 seats and there are so many people trying to fill them. The competition there was really fierce; it felt like you were almost taking food off people’s tables at some points. It forced me to be really aggressive and respectful at the same time. I’m definitely really thankful for the opportunity that I had.” In a clear sign to his Supercars rivals that he’s not simply there to make up the numbers, Kostecki says his American experience left him “wanting to know the most and be the best.” “You just want to have something over the guy next to you,” he says. “When you’re all standing in a line for someone to pick you up to be their driver, they have to have a reason to pick you. That definitely helped me up until this point. Racing Super2, you have short practice sessions and not much track time and then we jump straight into races. So, 100 percent, it’s helped me up until this point.” Kostecki undoubtedly has more varied experience than your average Supercars rookie. And his fellow rookie teammate Will Brown is another who’s sampled plenty of different machinery. But Kostecki acknowledges that there’s plenty of learning to do as well. “Will’s been a co-driver for a couple of years and I’ve done some wildcards, so while we have to label it as a rookie season, it’s more getting used to the different process of going through the race weekend,” he says. “There’s a bit more media and qualifying is more important than what it has ever been before. I think trying to get into your head that you don’t crack under pressure in those tough situations is what is going to make or break you as a driver. “I think we’ll be fine throughout the year. We’ve got to just keep pushing along and learn as much as we can, as quick as we can.” SUPERCAR XTRA

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Kostecki is already exceeding expectations in his rookie season, making it into the top-10 Shootout at Bathurst and onto the podium at Sandown.

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Kostecki and Brown’s arrival at Erebus is part of a fresh look for the team in 2021. Former drivers David Reynolds and Anton De Pasquale moved to Kelly Grove Racing and Dick Johnson Racing respectively, while engineer Alistair McVean has followed Reynolds to Kelly Grove Racing. And De Pasquale’s former engineer Mirko De Rosa has departed for the Blanchard Racing Team. Kostecki is engineered by George Commins, who’s moved over from Kelly Grove Racing, while Tom Moore has been promoted to engineer Brown. “It’s just like when you re-paint your house and you get sick of the walls that you’re in; we just need some fresh thinking,” says Kostecki. “So far this year it’s worked out pretty well. We still have a bit of work to do to catch the front guys. And I’ve got a bit of growing to do as well, just understanding qualifying a bit more. It seems to be very important with this current car with the aero wash and dirty air being quite bad. There’s definitely lots to learn for myself and for the team as well. So we’re really looking forward and trying to move up the pecking order. “I have a great engineer looking after me. We work really well together and our lingo, so to speak, is on the same page, so it’s been really good so far.” Another recent feature for Kostecki is the backing of Boost Mobile and its founder Peter Adderton, which Kostecki confirms was secured just prior to the season commencing. “When I signed the deal with Erebus, Betty Klimenko was quite happy not having anything on the cars; she wanted two people that just wanted to go racing and were completely dedicated to it,”

explains Kostecki. “She’s a great boss to have and she treats everyone like her own family and has been very welcoming. The Boost deal actually came quite late, and they’ve been very supportive of my career over the last two years. Pete’s very vocal in the media but he puts his money where his mouth is, whereas others don’t. So he said he wanted to support me a few years ago, and he’s held up to that, so big kudos to him for having faith in me.” While Kostecki admits his early days as a maingame driver have been eye opening, it’s nothing less than what this motivated racer expects. “I expected the competition to be a lot higher than what I was used to the last couple of years,” he says. “It was great to get into the Shootout on Saturday at Bathurst. It just shows how hard the team has been working in the off-season and how important our test days were at the start of the year to try and get myself as accustomed to the car as possible and also to my liking as well. It was definitely great to give the team that reward. “Towards the end of the year I want to start running up the front and being in contention for a race win. “I want to win races, that’s all it comes down to. Everyone says they want to win races and all the teams work hard, but we’ve just got to work that much harder to get there. We’ll see how we go throughout the season, but it’s definitely eyes forward from here on out. And we’re just going to have to dig deep and push hard to the end of the season.”

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WORDS Jordan Mulach IMAGES Supercars, Peter Norton

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The Repco Supercars Championship’s latest television deal may look similar to the one first struck with Fox Sports Australia, but the media-rights package has evolved as the championship navigates an ever-changing television landscape.

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fter the torrid year of 2020, which many wrote off as something of a non-event in the land of Supercars, 2021 has brought with it a level of anticipation for a new era in the broadcasting of Australia’s biggest motorsport category. A return to the Seven Network was one of the big off-track stories throughout the 2020 season with Supercars announcing in September that it would return to the broadcaster which had been associated with the Australian Touring Car Championship through its heyday as well as the V8 formula in its formative years. With former Supercars CEO James Warburton taking the role of managing director and CEO of Seven West Media in 2019, a return to the broadcaster after a six-year hiatus seemed only natural as the deal with Ten was on the verge of expiring. Seven had held exclusive broadcasting rights to the championship in Australia from 2007 until 2014, when Supercars signed a six-year deal with Network Ten and Foxtel, worth $241 million at the time and lasting from the start of 2015 up to the end of last season. While the deal brought with it uninterrupted, adbreak free races to Supercars fans for the first time through Fox Sports, the free-to-air side with Ten allowed the network to only show six rounds a year live as the rest had to be compressed into evening highlights packages, often off its main channel. Though the Fox Sports product has often been touted as the best motorsport coverage in Australia, fans were initially turned off by the prospect of having to pay to watch their favourite sport, which had previously been exclusively on free-to-air albeit with delays in some parts of the schedule. In 2015, the ratings for the Ipswich SuperSprint came in at just 43,035 for the Fox Sports coverage with a further 93,211 tuning in to the highlights package across both nights in the metro areas. Compare this to the 209,596 who had watched the corresponding weekend of racing on Seven the year before and you can start to see why the category was starting to worry about the move to a predominantly pay-TV model. However, as recognition of the Fox Sports coverage grew and fans started to understand that there was a marked difference in quality between the product on free-to-air versus the pay-TV alternative, ratings as a percentage started to creep up in favour of Fox Sports. For example, the Bathurst 1000 has always been available on free-to-air, and it continued to be even

under the Fox Sports deal. Comparing the 2014 race on Seven to the 2015 instalment on Ten/Fox, the latter had higher ratings with 1.224 million tuning in during 2014 and 1.339 million in total across both networks in 2015 in metro areas. The split from Ten/Fox Sports ended up being 82 percent to 18 percent respectively, despite the pay-TV coverage having to drop its ad-break free caveat thanks to the Australian anti-siphoning laws around major sporting events. With 2015 as a reference point, the momentum started to swing the way of Fox Sports in the years since with the percentage doubling in a five-year period from 18 percent in 2015, 26 percent in 2016, 36 percent in 2017, 34 percent for the fastest 1000 ever in 2018 and then another 36 percent recorded for the 2019 edition, the most watched Bathurst 1000 in the history of the Great Race. For 2020, a new contender entered the race with Fox Sports streaming service Kayo being available for the first time. In comparison to a Foxtel subscription, which costs at least $74 per month for HD sports coverage, Kayo starts out at $25 per month with some managing to get that fee as low as $15. On the race day of the 2020 Bathurst 1000, Kayo was the second most downloaded app in Australia with 77,000 tuning in to watch the Great Race online. Combined with the 347,000 already watching on Fox Sports, this brought the subscription total up to 424,000 with a metro peak of 1.26 million thanks to the 669,000 who watched the race on Ten. With 34 percent of the 2020 ratings coming from subscription services and a fourth year in a row of holding at least a third of the total audience, Foxtel was justified in signing its new deal with Supercars the month before, leading us into this year’s season alongside the Seven Network. The new rights deal between Foxtel and Seven was signed as a five-year contract, worth $200 million over the length of the agreement. Interestingly, the difference between the Ten deal and the Seven version equates to a difference of under $200,000 each year, though it’s unclear as to what the split is between the free-to-air network and the subscription service. A new broadcaster also means a new look across many different aspects. While some of the core Supercars Media team have remained, like commentators Neil Crompton and Mark Skaife, positions elsewhere shuffled between seasons with pit reporters Riana Crehan and Andrew Jones departing the line-up after 2020. SUPERCAR XTRA

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Supercars had to backpedal at a great rate of knots after they had announced veteran pundit and fan favourite Mark Larkham would not be retained heading in to 2021, causing a large uproar on social media. Campaigns from fans to bring Larkham back have resulted in the former team owner and driver ending up with an arguably more involved role throughout the coverage. The free-to-air network change has also seen a change in the faces hosting the broadcasts for those not wanting to pay a premium. Mark Beretta returns as the lead host after his years as an integral part of Seven’s coverage when it last owned the rights to the sport. Beretta has been joined by experienced journalist Abbey Gelmi, 2016 Australian rally champion Molly Taylor and former Australian cricketer Brad Hodge. Jack Perkins was also a late addition to the team, with the 2015 Gold Coast 600 winner being the only person on the Seven broadcast with Supercars racing experience. With Seven also acquiring the rights to cover the Australian Racing Group categories as well as the Australian Rally Championship, their big push towards a uniform on-air team has been aimed to show fans they are the home of motorsport coverage in Australia. Ten now only has the rights to broadcast select Formula 1 and MotoGP races locally, the whole season of both sports again being shown on Fox Sports. A new network and new faces also inspired the team from Supercars Media to create a new graphics package, going for a bespoke look that would make the category stand out rather than fall in line with the other sports on Foxtel’s platform like in previous years. Right out of the gate, the season-opener could only be described as a ratings success for both Seven and Fox Sports. Seven recorded 221,000 people tuning in to watch the Race 1 podium, marking a 28 percent increase over Ten’s numbers for the 2020 Adelaide 500, while combined with Fox Sports the 660,000 people watching live made it the mostwatched first race since 2016. Sunday continued the trend, with a peak of 710,000 people tuning in equating to a five percent increase over the 2020 Adelaide 500 event. Factor in the behind-the-scenes spat between Kayo offering the round for free and Seven’s streaming service 7Plus putting it on without ad-breaks, Supercars would have quite a few reasons to be confident in their product after that performance. Though there were some hitches with the graphics in the opening round at Bathurst, Sandown was a marked improvement as the coverage performed nearly flawlessly across the two-day event. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the new onboard cameras too, brought in after Gravity Media (suppliers of the cameras to Supercars) found themselves engaged in legal proceedings over their joint venture to deliver Supercars the cameras for 48

“IT’S POSSIBLE TO ARGUE THAT IN TERMS OF VALUE FOR MONEY, THE NETWORKS AND FOXTEL GET A MUCH BETTER BANG FOR THEIR BUCK WHEN IT COMES TO SUPERCARS OVER THE BALL CODES.”

Mark Larkham returned to the Supercars television commentary team in 2021, after fans voiced their anger following his dismissal at the end of 2020. The popular former driver and team owner is a key part of the Supercars telecast with expert analysis from the pitlane.

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Gen3 with Broadcast Sports International (BSI). Though the deal with Gravity and BSI ended on December 31 last year, Supercars was given a “grace” period in which it could still use the existing technology for the opening round in Bathurst then revert to its own system from Sandown. Despite not every car carrying an in-car camera or even a roof camera, the coverage seemed fine as many praised the over-the-shoulder angle which was in Shane van Gisbergen’s car, showing his charge from 17th on the grid to the race win on the Saturday. Sandown also gave Supercars and Foxtel something to boast about as the round attracted the highest ratings for a pay-TV only race since the 2019 Sandown 500, recording 172,000 viewers for the round-closing race on Sunday on Fox Sports alone. Though Kayo numbers aren’t released to the public, both Sunday races individually showed higher ratings than any Fox Sports-only race last year, coming second in the subscription TV standings only to the NRL games that afternoon. 2021 has also seen Supercars diversify in how fans outside of Australia and New Zealand can access the sport. From the season-opening round at Bathurst, international viewers could tune in either through a subscription service on the Supercars website or through a similar deal on YouTube. While the SuperView option, which is hosted by Supercars, costs $59.99 a year, the YouTube variant is only $5.99 a month, essentially coming to just

under $66 across the February-December run of the season but with a much more familiar interface on a multi-billion dollar platform which allows casting. Though this makes it possible for the Foxtel/Kayo deal to be undercut by savvy punters who have a VPN, the offer of other motorsports on Kayo such as Formula 1 and MotoGP - as well as the IndyCar Series this year, where three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will be racing - means it’s likely being used for its intended purpose of international viewers only. If not, we’ll probably hear that Supercars has suddenly become very popular in Romania for no reason. A significant step came in 2019 on YouTube when Supercars finally realised they could use it as a tool to engage new fans and keep the current ones hooked. After the 2019 Bathurst 1000, a simple two-and-a-half minute highlight video was put up on the category’s channel; a montage of moments from the day with Crompton talking about the podium celebrations before finally getting to talking about what was on screen. Immediately after that race, the quality of the content increased ten-fold. From putting up full press conferences to well-cut, entertaining highlights packages to flashback/retrospective videos, the fans started to get treated to more than just the scraps of the broadcast. With the new YouTube deal, Supercars also decided to make it easier for long-time fans to relapse into a rabbit hole of motorsport binging by uploading old races in full on the site. This means

Supercars champion and four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Garth Tander joined the telecast team in 2021.

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you can now watch the full eight-hour, 21-minute coverage of the 2014 Bathurst 1000 in HD for free. In essence, Supercars can broadcast its product across as many as five different services in certain rounds; free-to-air, pay-TV, Kayo, SuperView and YouTube. You’d be hard pressed to find any other domestic sport which can do that as well as offer international access. However, it’s possible to argue that in terms of value for money, the networks and Foxtel get a much better bang for their buck when it comes to Supercars over the ball codes. The NRL media rights deal for 2018-22 is worth $1.8 billion. Cricket Australia’s landmark move to Seven and Fox Sports in 2019 was announced at $1.182 billion across six years. The AFL’s two-year

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extension with Seven and Fox Sports for 2023-24 is worth an eye-watering $946 million. Compare all of this to the measly $200 million that Supercars is apparently worth over a five-year period and you can see why it presents itself as a nice little cash cow for its broadcasting partners when you take into account the fact that its ratings are up there with the football codes. With 2021 off to a good start already for the rekindled Supercars/Seven relationship and Fox Sports still improving in their seventh year broadcasting exclusive content, it would be hard to argue that this relationship won’t go from strength to strength as Gen3 looks to become another boost beyond this season.

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IMAGES Autopics.com.au, Justin Deeley

HOW HOLDEN WON THE WAR

With the Holden name and Commodore cars set to depart Supercars, we look back at how the General prevailed over great rival Ford and its Falcons in the ‘Red versus Blue’ battles of the V8 era between 1993 and 2012; what will be remembered as a golden era for the category.

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t may be one of Australia’s greatest sporting rivalries, but the Ford versus Holden rivalry is officially in its final days with the retired Holden brand and its Commodore set to make way for Chevrolet and the Camaro in Supercars. With the advent of the Group 3A era in 1993 that morphed into V8 Supercars, there were more than 20 years of those two manufacturers going mirror to mirror. That battle was weakened with the introduction of other manufacturers under the Car of the Future in 2013. But Ford and Holden are left as the only two manufacturers on the grid in 2021. 52

We, as fans of the sport, know there is very little correlation between the race car and the road car. The first series of designs used the entire road car as the ‘base’, then Project Blueprint uprooted the running gear and standardised components that led into Car of the Future, which generated cars that really only differed by bodyshell and engine. At each step, despite winning races and championships, Ford numbers dwindled as Ford’s support dissipated. Team after team seemed to move across to Holden. So how did it happen? When Group 3A first arrived in 1993,

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the numbers were heavily skewed in Holden’s favour, which made sense given that the Ford teams from the older Group A format were running Sierras, while the Holden teams were already running Commodores. It wasn’t a straight transition but many teams were geared up to run the Commodore. There were 20-plus Commodores that competed in that first championship, including the part-timers, and only four Falcons, which still claimed first to third in the championship courtesy of Glenn Seton Racing and Dick Johnson Racing. By 1997, of the 17 cars that ran more than five rounds of the series, 10 were Commodores and seven were Falcons. If you brought the part-timers into play, it was 36 Holdens to 12 Fords. Project Blueprint was Ford at its peak. An aggressive push under the late Howard Marsden saw the earlier recruitment of Craig Lowndes, and the numbers were 19 Fords to 16 Holdens in 2003. The final year of Project Blueprint in 2012 saw 17 Holdens fight 11 Fords as the pendulum began to swing back to the General. And that trend is still evident in 2021, despite the retirement of the Holden brand and slower move away from its Australian-made sedan, with 16 Holden ZB Commodores on the grid compared to eight Ford Mustangs; and seven Holden teams compared to four Ford teams. In all that time, Dick Johnson has been running Fords, committed to the Blue Oval despite on and off factory funding, including the dropping of support in 2008 that also impacted Triple Eight Race Engineering.

“We’ve had a good run with them,” says Johnson, who started with Ford in the 1970s. ‘The Rock’ changed his relationship with the manufacturer, but it certainly had its peaks and troughs over the next four decades. “Obviously things are somewhat different now because I’m not behind the wheel anymore, but in the years that I’ve had with them, there were people that really worked hard. Probably one of the best guys ever was Howard Marsden; obviously with the motorsport background he knew how to make it work. “There were others, too. For me in the early years Ford was virtually on top with things like car sales, and guys like Geoff Polites, Peter Gillitzer and Jack Nasser made it happen. I remember sitting in front of Jack Nasser when he was the boss and he felt there was value in it.” Marsden was a pioneer for Ford. He was the man in charge of the early-1970s program that scored Bathurst wins and kept the young Peter Brock honest. The company pulled out of racing in 1974, rejoined in 1976 at his behest, bailed again, joined again, and so on. There was no continuity despite Marsden’s input and drive. His resignation from Ford and death from cancer in 2003 signalled the decline of Ford’s program. While support from Ford has been up and down for four decades, Johnson has never really thought of leaving the Blue Oval. In fact, you can still see the sparkle in his eyes if you talk of the Falcons, Sierras and Mustangs that his team has raced over the decades. SUPERCAR XTRA

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The same wasn’t true, however, of other teams running Ford badges. Famously, when Ford started scaling back in 2008, Roland Dane’s Triple Eight jumped ship when the money dried up. His team had worked with Ford developing the aero package for the FG racer, which took his driver, Jamie Whincup, to the 2009 title. One of the cars his team built also won the 2010 title with James Courtney at Dick Johnson Racing, while Triple Eight was getting on top of its new Commodores. With a string of Bathurst and championship wins with the Commodore since 2010, it was a coup for the brains’ trust at Holden. “I go back obviously to that period in 2008 where we had developed the FG aero kit for Ford,” says Dane. “As soon as it was signed off they told us that we were not a part of the plans going forward. We were in a very invidious position going into the six-month period before the beginning of the next season; it was far too late to make any changes at that point. “We ran the FG in 2009 and as a package we were very happy to run that car and proved we had done a good job with the aero kit. “I’d worked with GM in Europe extensively and enjoyed a very good relationship. Simon McNamara was very proactive in trying to seek out an arrangement with us over a period of time because he felt that was the best way of ensuring ongoing success for Holden with their racing program. “So it made sense on an emotional level with GM, a practical level with GM, and their overall enthusiasm for the sport and recognising what it did for them in the marketplace.” Dane said he approached the process of change in a logical manner: “If someone doesn’t pay you to work, do you still carry on working for them?” “It might have been seen by people who don’t understand economics as a dummy spit, but there’s a practical side of life,” he says. “Clearly being able to align with a manufacturer with a high level of commitment to the sport in general makes sense. “The only thing that was emotional about it is I was extremely pissed off with Ford at the time for basically setting us up to do all the work on the FG and then literally the following week coming and telling us that they were reneging on a verbal promise to extend their backing into 2009.” He says the remarkable run for his team since the switch would have been hard to maintain without that manufacturer backing. The proof is in the pudding, with Triple Eight winning six drivers’ championships, eight teams’ championships and five Bathurst 1000s with Holden since 2010. Triple Eight became the sole factory Holden team in 2017, taking on the famed Holden Racing Team name and leading the development of the ZB Commodore that debuted in 2018. Its customer teams have also enjoyed success, 54

with Team 18, Team Sydney and Matt Stone Racing fielding Triple Eight-built Commodores. For former Holden Motorsport boss Simon McNamara, it was all about winning. So when the door was open and Triple Eight was up-for-grabs, he took Holden through that door. “‘Up-for-grabs’ is probably not the word, but yes, it was a long negotiation between Mr Dane and myself,” says McNamara. “We had the core support of the then management of GM, and they were supportive of what I was trying to do. “It’s been proven to be quite a good investment. They’ve done exceptionally well and they’ve delivered themselves to be the benchmark operation.” McNamara was a significant part of the success Holden enjoyed and still enjoys today. He rode through Project Blueprint and Car of the Future, gently guiding the teams that were developing the cars and working up and down the grid. Project Blueprint was a biggie. The car’s fundamental structure was changed; the chassis was shortened and there were a whole lot of mechanical changes. The Holden Racing Team was also in ownership trouble, which was just bad timing. But they got through that after bleeding a trio of titles to Stone Brothers Racing. A pair of titles to the second-string Walkinshaw HSV-backed team highlighted that Holden was not just the Holden Racing Team… and then the Triple Eight era started. The VF Commodore racer was launched well before the road car, which was only possible because GM in America decided to use the bodyshell for NASCAR and that season started in February at Daytona. So the first the Australian public really knew about the VF was through racing, which tells you a little bit about how the company saw the importance of the sport. Holden won every key marker against Ford in the V8 era (see table on the right), owing to a more consistent level of support and numerical supremacy. While fans will argue over parity irregularities, there is little to no real evidence of one manufacturer being favoured over the other. Holden simply did a better job in key areas across the two decades. The Holden and Ford era may be coming to an end, but the General Motors-owned Chevrolet should still resonate with diehard Holden fans, while the arrival of the Camaro provides a more fitting rival to Ford’s Mustang. There’s even a link to the past, with the Camaro and Mustang battling it out for championships in the Improved Production era of the category in the 1960s and 1970s, which set the foundation for the Ford versus Holden, Falcon versus Torana/Commodore battles of Group C in the 1970s and 1980s. When the Gen3 era Camaros and Mustangs do battle in Supercars, there will still be a ‘Red versus Blue’ component. Who prevails will keep us watching into the next era of the category.

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TALE OF THE TAPE

HOLDEN COMMODORE VS FORD FALCON 1993–2012 HOLDEN

FORD

CHAMPIONSHIPS

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SANDOWN/QR/PI 500 WINS

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In their exclusive battles in the Falcon and Commodore V8 era over 20 years, Holden comes out on top of Ford in each key battle.

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IMAGES Autopics.com.au, Justin Deeley

THE TECHNICAL UNDERGROUND

The V8 era pitted the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore in head-to-head combat for two decades. What followed the introduction of the locally-built V8 racers from the end of 1992 was an intense battle for technical supremacy.

W

ith Holden and the Commodore set to make way for Chevrolet and the Camaro in 2022, Australian touring cars will have moved on from the Commodore and Falcon era that it became so synonymous with in recent decades. While the end of the Commodore and move towards an all-American muscle-car battle between the Camaro and Ford Mustang is upcoming, it is far less traumatic than the era that prompted the exclusive Holden versus Ford years. Indeed, younger fans may not remember an era where the Commodores and Falcons weren’t fighting it out in a red versus blue tribal scrap of immense proportions. But the reality is the championship that we enjoyed from the early 1990s onwards grew out of a period of failed internationalism, when Australia tried to become part of a global touring-car formula. Group A was a homologation formula that required manufacturers to build a certain amount of production cars as the basis for their race cars. Holden was the only Australian manufacturer who played that game with a series of Commodore Group A specials. But sticking true to its V8 rear-wheel drive ethos meant it couldn’t compete

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with the turbocharged terrors from Europe and Japan. Group A replaced the local Group C rules that were the stomping ground of legends such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Larry Perkins, Allan Moffat, Colin Bond, Bob Morris and Allan Grice and the legendary cars they raced such as the Holden Torana A9X and the first iterations of the racing Commodore. On the Ford side it was a cavalcade of Falcons. But the Group C era eventually became bogged down in politicking and ‘by the seat of your pants’ rule making. Group A had issues of its own, too. In the late 1980s it was the Ford Sierra RS500 that dominated the show, with Dick Johnson and John Bowe in their Shell Sierras. Then came the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 prepared and raced with factory backing by Gibson Motorsport. ‘Godzilla’ chewed up and spat out the opposition from the end of 1990 to 1992. By then the writing was very much on the wall for Group A in Australia. The development war was financially draining, the racing was strung out, the grids tiny, crowds drifting, and television ratings falling. It was against this backdrop that a few key players began plotting the succession to Group A, stirred on by Channel Seven’s

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motorsport chief Mike Raymond. “Mike Raymond worked fairly hard on it,” recalls Jeff Grech, who became famous as team manager of the Holden Racing Team (HRT) in this brave new era. “He took it to the Dicks and the Larrys who had come through the Group C era. Mike really wanted to work with the punters on the Ford versus Holden thing and at least start it back there. There was a lot of work done in a short time. They wanted the cars to have a wing and a spoiler and look a bit racey.” The formula was dubbed Group 3A. The fundamentals were: sedan, V8, rear-wheel drive - a formula that pretty much still underpins Supercars in 2021. The formula has been evolutionary since. And that applies to the technical development of the cars as much as the rules that dictate their performance, which have become more and more stringent through the years. The first technical steps into the new formula were led by Dick Johnson Racing (DJR), which built a bold and highly modified EB Falcon that was dubbed a sports sedan. Meanwhile, Holden had a Group A base to develop its first new era racer, a VP Commodore. The technical rules were a little grey and loose in those early days, recalls Glenn Seton, who owned and led the factory-backed Glenn Seton Racing team and debuted his first EB at the 1992 Sandown 500 in preparation for a full-on tilt at the championship in 1993. “The rules weren’t massively clear, and that’s why the 1992 car never ever raced again after I crashed it at Adelaide in the last race of the year,” he explains. “Although we could repair it, the rules changed over Christmas regarding things you could do around the rear-diff housing and also the top of the wheel arches. So us and Johnson basically built new cars for 1993.” Seton burst into the 1993 season and led teammate Alan Jones to a one-two in the championship. “Ford came out with a ripping good aero package for the first car,” Seton recalls. “I never forget one of the Holden people at the time said, ‘One of us has got this (aerodynamics) wrong and I think it is us.’” That first Commodore didn’t even have an undertray, a

situation that was corrected by the Mallala round of the 1993 championship when the Holdens were granted an aerodynamic upgrade by what was then known as CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sports), which was still in charge of regulating the technical aspects of the category. Remember these were also the days before the arrival of Tony Cochrane and SEL, the creation of V8 Supercars and CAMS’ move to a background role. Back then races were on late-night delayed telecasts, teams were paying to enter championship rounds and the back half of the grid was made up of ancient Group A VL Commodores. The story of the development of Holden’s aero pack for the VP is indicative of the ‘seat of the pants’ work that was going on at this time. Richard Hollway, then an engineer at HRT and now at Team 18, recalls: “That first undertray was developed running up and down the Monash Freeway in the old workshop ute at crazy speeds.” Throughout these early years of the V8 formula, the fight back and forth between the two brands over performance parity was constant. It primarily boiled down to aerodynamics, but the vague nature of the rulebook created plenty of opportunities for ‘interpretation’. Lobbying and politicking was constant as one brand and then the other sought to gain the advantage. “It was an interesting time in the rules,” adds Grech. “From my memory of it, there was a lot of changes and a lot of politics in those changes. But, at the end of the day, it ended up a pretty good category with two pretty good cars. After all, to go to Bathurst and have six and a half hours of neck-and-neck racing is a pretty good achievement.” Some of the controversies included HRT’s interpretation of the shock tower rule at Bathurst in 1994. It was typical innovation by Ron Harrop, an engineering genius, who was in charge of development at HRT. The team also focused on shock development, moving from Bilstein to Ohlins dampers. Then there was rulebook maestro Perkins. His decision to swap back to the VP Commodore at Bathurst in 1996 because he thought it was a superior aerodynamic package to that of the

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newer VR was typical of his lateral thinking. It was a move that backfired because Perkins and Russell Ingall only finished sixth. Back in 1993, Perkins, co-driving with the late and great Gregg Hansford, had won the race and built on his following amongst the General’s faithful by doing it with the Holden pushrod V8, rather than the Chev motorsport engine that other top Holden teams had migrated to. Over at Ford, the combination of the Ford SVO five-litre V8 and Yates heads was the go-to. In 1995, Perkins and Ingall famously came back from the rear of the field to win the Bathurst 1000, using a trick braking system developed by Perkins Engineering that enabled their Castrol Commodore to get through the race without a pad change. There was lots of that sort of stuff going on. In those days there were certainly more freedoms for tuners to express themselves. There weren’t only significant differences between Commodores and Falcons but between different cars within the same brand built by different teams. “There were people doing lots of different stuff, and I remember we were puzzled at how some cars could run so low,” says Hollway. Back then the racers were based on production floor pans and body shells. Even the standard metal guards were hand formed to accommodate the racing slicks. By comparison with today’s control chassis Supercars, the cars of the 1990s were more expensive and time-consuming to build. “They were a nightmare,” says Hollway. “Because you had to retain the body they were expensive to make. It was crazy the amount of hours that went into them, because you started with a full complete body and then put the cage into them.” And the rollcages became a focus of development as well. As computer-aided design became an accepted part of the armory, the hunt for more torsional rigidity became paramount. The first breakthrough car was HRT chassis #033, the VR Commodore designed by Hollway and his talented fellow engineer Chris Dyer. That car was famous because of its ‘Petty bar’, a diagonal tube that ran from above the driver’s head down to the left-hand footwell. Grech believes it delivered a 35 percent increase in torsional rigidity. CAMS stepped in and tried to ban it. But after much to-ing and fro-ing the bar stayed in the #033. Craig Lowndes used that car and Bridgestone tyres developed for it to win his first title. That brings us to a key point. While the pushrod engines, shocks, brakes and rollcages were being developed, an important factor was the tyre war between Bridgestone, Dunlop and Yokohama. “Back in the early days the Yokohama was probably the best stop-go tyre, the Dunlop probably had the best suitability across the year in terms of working at the most places, while the Bridgestone probably had the best mid-corner speed and lateral 58

grip,” explains Mark Skaife, multiple champion of this era. “So that disparity in terms of where the tyres were almost forged the way in which each of the teams developed their cars. The rate we were chucking tyres at it was unbelievable. We were going to race meetings with 300 tyres.” By late in the 1990s with Cochrane presiding over AVESCO, the show on a far healthier financial footing and now in charge of its own technical path, there was a push to try and get beyond the constant parity bickering and to reduce costs of build and development. Enter Project Blueprint. Driven by then category CEO Wayne Cattach with category technical chief Paul Little, it sought to equalise the cars in a significant number of ways. Most importantly, a concerted effort was made to even up aero parity. Wheelbases also became identical, the Commodore got the double wishbone front suspension of the Falcon, cylinder head porting was standardised and much more. A bunch of componentry became controlled or part of a basket of approved components. Crucially, too, a control tyre had been introduced from the 1999 season. The equalisation of the cars for competitive and cost reasons continued on through the 2000s. One high profile change was the move to control the weight of engine components, then later a control camshaft was introduced. A sequential gearbox, E85 fuel, control brakes and testing restrictions all continued to define the technical box the teams worked in as the years went on. One constant factor in making the cars go fast was still the locked diff, says Hollway. “It’s still understeer in and oversteer out and tricking the spool, basically.” There was no doubt Ford desperately needed the reset that Project Blueprint delivered. The AU Falcon was a failure, totally dominated by HRT’s VT Commodore and its successors. For Seton, the halcyon championship winning days were long gone. “There were two things wrong with the AU,” he explains. “One was you couldn’t ever get enough aero on the front to get the downforce because it had a reasonably big wing on the back. The balance front to rear wasn’t great. Also, the shape of the car being quite round meant it had a bit of lift as well. We always had mid-corner understeer that we just could not get rid of it.” Grech understandably remembers the VT fondly and rates its significance highly in terms of technical development. “We were charged in those days to do the homologation for all the Holden teams,” he says. “Instead of getting standard road car body panels and cutting them up to make the clearances, they allowed us to then start manufacturing unique stuff for V8 Supercars. It became more practical to build a car and easier to build.”

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Holden’s domination over Ford in the early 2000s led to the introduction of Project Blueprint.

The start of the final season of the Ford and Holden-only Project Blueprint era in 2012.

Ford more than got back on an even keel with the BA Falcon. Combined with Stone Brothers Racing and Marcos Ambrose, it proved an unstoppable force in the championship in 2003 and 2004, while Russell Ingall followed up in 2005. The HSV Dealer Team then delivered two championships for Holden in 2006 and 2007. Later in the decade, newcomers Triple Eight Race Engineering continued the streak, winning three Bathurst 1000s in a row in the BA and BF and drivers’ championships in the BF and FG. Technical director Ludo Lacroix brought a European philosophy to building V8 race cars; the Frenchman dismissing the cars he first encountered here as “tanks”. “I can’t design a tank, I’m not interested in tanks, and when we come here some of the cars were tanks, big Panzers. We don’t do that,” he said in 2009. Project Blueprint’s mandatory 2822mm wheelbase meant 2007’s VE Commodore had to have its wheelbase reduced from standard and, therefore, its body truncated to keep it in proportion. That was achieved by shortening the rear doors. It also had to have its roofline lowered. Twelve months later, Ford had to do the same job with the FG Falcon. This was a car developed aerodynamically by Lacroix. It continues to be regarded as perhaps the best execution of a V8 Supercar in that era, which concluded with the introduction of the Car of the Future regulations in 2013. Triple Eight’s record was quite sensational. It made the dramatic off-season change from Ford to Holden in the 2009-10 off-season, winning Bathurst but just missing out on the drivers’ championship. Still, the title winner, James Courtney, was driving a Triple Eight-built Falcon FG for DJR. Lacroix’s philosophies of race design are straight forward. Understand what the tyre needs so you can extend its working life as long as possible, keep the centre of gravity low and build the car stiff, adjustable and light. “Sure these cars aren’t exactly light weights, but building lighter gives you the ability to place ballast where it is most advantageous,” he says. And he points out one other factor that is a key if you want to develop a winning Supercar. “I believe only in work,” says Lacroix. “It’s just about how much work you put in and how clever you are at doing it.” The Car of the Future regulations in 2013 not only opened the door for non-Ford and Holden manufacturers to enter, it was also underpinned by a control chassis across all makes. Plans to allow non-V8 engines stalled, while Nissan, AMG Mercedes-Benz and Volvo came and went with some but not enough success. As Supercars prepares to enter the third iteration of those rules, Ford and Holden remain but with less opportunity for the ingenuity that was on display at the start of the V8 era. SUPERCAR XTRA

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THE BEND MOTORSPORT PARK

IMAGES The Bend Motorsport Park, Kelly Grove Racing

AROUND THE BEND

The Bend Motorsport Park hosts its fifth Supercars event in 2021, five years since construction commenced at the state-of-the-art facility that’s more than just a motor racing circuit.

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T

he size and scale of The Bend Motorsport Park is like nothing that’s ever been seen in Australia. At the heart of the facility which sits 100 kilometres south-east of Adelaide is the race track, which at 7.77 kilometres in its maximum configuration is the longest in Australia and second only to the Nordschleife in Germany. There are up to seven circuit configurations that can be used for racing at The Bend Motorsport Park, ranging from 3.4 to 7.77 kilometres in length. But there’s more to the facility than the race tracks. What’s been developed since its opening in 2018 is an all-purpose facility that’s become a hub of motoring and motorsport.

Consider that in addition to the main tracks, The Bend Motorsport Park features the following: Australia’s only purpose-built drift circuit; a karting circuit; a rally-cross circuit; driver-training facilities; a four-wheel drive adventure park; a rally/off-road facility; and plans to build a dragway as well as an airstrip for light aircraft.

ACCOMMODATION

The Bend Motorsport Park is unique in Australia with a hotel above the pits. The ‘Welcome Centre’, featuring an auto gallery of unique cars and motorbikes, is the entry point to the pit complex and hotel, featuring bar and dining options overlooking pitlane.

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THE BEND MOTORSPORT PARK

The 100-room Rydges Pit Lane Hotel offers guests rooms that overlook the main circuit, with a bird’seye view of pitlane below. The hotel and ‘Welcome Centre’ become the hub of activity on race weekends, with the opportunity for guests to immerse themselves at the event. BEND MOTORSPORT PARK is one of the most significant There’s also a BIG4 Holiday Park with camping, lopments in Australian motorsport A state of the art, caravan, cabin andhistory. dormitory accommodation d-class motorsport facility, The Bend will deliver an exhilarating options located within the precinct. rience for competitors, enthusiasts and spectators alike. We hope There’s also vehicle storage facilities, with various enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. leasing options available.

VERYTHING HROUGH ONE GATE

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ADVENTURE PARK

Also off the tarmac is The Bend Motorsport Park’s four-wheel drive adventure park, featuring rock and log obstacles, sand traps and dunes, inclines and descents, table tops and more, catering for novice and expert off-roaders. The adventure park is serviced by its own administration building, allowing patrons to bring and test their four-wheel drives in a safe environment. Visit TheBend.com.au for more information.

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RALLY & OFF-ROAD

The Bend Motorsport Park’s motorsport precinct isn’t just on tarmac with a rally and off-road precinct for various disciplines, including rally and buggy racing. There are multiple configurations across 3kms of gravel tracks, serviced by its own rooms and used for rally sprints and other off-road events such as khanacross.

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KARTDROME

The Kartdrome Circuit is built specifically for karting, drifting and rallycross, be it for competition or training. The drift track features multiple layouts and hosts a variety of competitions throughout the year. Likewise for the karting circuit, which is 1.1km long and meets CIK-FIA international standards. The Kartdrome also caters for rallycross events, with the mixed surface of asphalt and dirt. The Bend Motorsport Park also has a public gokarting facility, featuring three different layouts with karts that can reach speeds of 70km/h.

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ON-TRACK EXPERIENCES

The Bend Motorsport Park allows patrons to hit the track themselves with seven on-track experiences across a variety of cars. There are options to drive a track-prepared V8 racer, a V8 Ford Mustang, a motorkhana-spec clubman, a Subaru rally car, a go-kart, a four-wheel drive off-roader and more, across a variety of track layouts, or go for hot laps in a Formula 3 car, in a Porsche GT3 Cup car or on a Superbike. There are various options available for experience packages or vouchers, with the circuit configurations also now downloadable on the Assetto Corsa e-racing platform.


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TA2 Trans Am Mustang

Toyota 86 Racing Series Car

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE

JUNE 2021

FROM THE ARCHIVES

WHEN SUPERCARS’ FUTURE ARRIVED

Supercars opened the door to manufacturers other than Ford and Holden for the first time in 20 years in 2013, with the Car of the Future platform making its debut at that season’s Adelaide 500.

T

he Ford and Holden duopoly that was at the cornerstone of Supercars between 1993 and 2012 came to an end in 2013. The introduction of the Car of the Future regulations paved the way for other manufacturers to enter the category, starting at the season-opening Adelaide 500. Nissan and AMG MercedesBenz entered the fray through very different arrangements. While Nissan joined forces with Kelly Racing in an official factory-backed capacity to run Nissan Altimas, Erebus Motorsport, having taken over Stone Brothers Racing, fielded Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs in a customer arrangement with AMG and HWA in Germany. Ford and Holden still retained numerical supremacy. The grid was made up of 15 of the new Holden VF

Commodores and six of the older Ford FG Falcons, adapted onto the new control chassis, alongside four Nissan Altimas and three MercedesBenz E63 AMGs. Kelly Racing’s line-up included co-owners Todd and Rick Kelly alongside James Moffat and Michael Caruso, while Erebus Motorsport recruited German Maro Engel to partner Lee Holdsworth and Tim Slade. The VF Commodore proved to be the car to beat, sweeping its debut event with wins for Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Craig Lowndes and Tekno Autosports’ Shane van Gisbergen. The latter had sensationally walked away from Stone Brothers Racing and into retirement at the end of 2012, only to return with Tekno Autosports ahead of the 2013 season. The Ford entrants had to play second fiddle, with Ford

Performance Racing the only Falcon represented on the podium courtesy of Will Davison, with the team running an eye-catching “fire and ice” split livery across its two entries. The newcomers weren’t too far off the pace, with the Altima clearly ahead of the E63. In qualifying, the Altima was eight-tenths of a second off the pace and the E63 around one and a half seconds adrift. In the races, Rick Kelly was best of the Nissan’s with an 11th place and Slade the leading E63 with a 15th place. There were the expected mechanical dramas for both teams, as the challenge to reach a level-playing field in terms of engine performance and aerodynamics became evident. The Altima went on to win a race with Moffat at Winton in August, though it was shrouded in controversy with the use of an E70 fuel blend

as opposed to the usual E85, while the E63 didn’t score a podium finish only to win at Winton in April 2014. By then, the stunning form of the new-for-2014 Volvo S60 at Garry Rogers Motorsport had overshadowed the progress made by the Altima and E63. The three new arrivals to Supercars could all lay claim to race wins, yet they never did claim a title up against the Fords and Holdens. By the 2020 Adelaide 500, all three manufacturers were gone as Supercars returned to the Ford and Holden duopoly. Scan to watch the first race of the 2013 Adelaide 500.

The Car of the Future era got underway at the 2013 Adelaide 500.

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Profile for Supercar Xtra Magazine

SupercarXtra Magazine Issue 121  

Comings & Goings The Evolution of Four Drivers

SupercarXtra Magazine Issue 121  

Comings & Goings The Evolution of Four Drivers

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