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ISSUE 122 SUPERCARXTRA.COM.AU 6 ANALYSIS: GEN3 RAMPS UP The latest on the development of the Gen3 Supercar and the philosophy behind it. 8 ANALYSIS: TITLE BATTLE HEATS UP The state of play in the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship entering the second half of the season. 10 ANALYSIS: RETURNING TO NEW ZEALAND Supercars’ hopes to celebrate its New Zealand anniversary with a return to Pukekohe Park Raceway. 12 ANALYSIS: BATHURST WILDCARDS The wildcard entry set to make history at the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000. 16 WINTERBOTTOM COLUMN Mark Winterbottom on the challenge of competing in Supercars.

18 LOWNDES COLUMN Craig Lowndes on how he would like the Supercars calendar to look moving forward. 22 FEATURE: CHAZZLE DAZZLE The union and progression of Chaz Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United. 28 FEATURE: THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME The case for Jamie Whincup being the greatest driver in the history of Australian touring cars. 34 FEATURE: THE NEXT GENERATION DANE Jessica Dane on her rise through the ranks and future with Triple Eight Race Engineering. 40 FEATURE: THE WILL TO WIN Will Brown’s journey to his full-time main-game arrival with Erebus Motorsport.

46 FEATURE: THE SOLO PATH Jake Kostecki and Zane Goddard on moving into their own entries at Matt Stone Racing. 52 FEATURE: RACING LINKS The ties that connect Supercars/Bathurst 1000 and the IndyCar Series/Indianapolis 500. 56 FEATURE: THE ROOKIE SENSATION Marcos Ambrose and Stone Brothers Racing’s arrival as Ford’s great hope in 2001. 60 FEATURE: ARRIVAL OF ‘THE KID’ Craig Lowndes’ sweep of his full-time debut season in 1996. 66 FROM THE ARCHIVES A look back at the reverse-grid experiments from 2000 to 2006.

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/SupercarXtra @SupercarXtra @SupercarXtra

THE CONTENDERS STEP UP

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hane van Gisbergen remains the favourite for the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, but a number of drivers have stepped up to challenge the Triple Eight Race Engineering driver with some standout performances. One of these is Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert. The 2014 Bathurst 1000 winner is in his second season with the team and is the closest Holden challenger to Triple Eight. It’s been a fascinating journey for Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United in recent years, as we profile in the cover story for this edition. Van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup is among the contenders, in what will be his final full-time season. As he approaches the end of his career before moving into team management, we examine the case for Whincup being the greatest driver in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars.

Whincup will join Jessica Dane in the new-look Triple Eight leadership structure. We speak with Dane on her rise to the joint top of the team, following in the footsteps of her father Roland Dane. Elsewhere, we profile Erebus Motorsport’s full-time rookie Will Brown on his arrival into the main game, in addition to Matt Stone Racing’s Jake Kostecki and Zane Goddard on moving into their own entries this season. With Scott McLaughlin now settled in IndyCars, we review the links between Australian touring cars and the North American open-wheel category. The ‘Analysis’ section looks at the latest news surrounding Supercars, including the current make up of Gen3 and the state of play on and off the track in 2021. Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom share their thoughts in their columns, with Lowndes commenting on the future of the calendar and Winterbottom

on the challenge of being competitive. Looking back, we reflect on the remarkable rookie campaigns of Lowndes and Marcos Ambrose. Lowndes won the championship, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 in 1996, while Ambrose scored pole position for his first race at Albert Park and Bathurst. We also remember the reverse-grid experiments between 2000 and 2006 in our ‘From the Archives’ section. The print edition of this issue includes a pullout poster featuring Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United on one side and Ambrose and Stone Brothers Racing 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 Trent Dyball Phone: (03) 9006 7666 Mobile: 0414 872 168 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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GEN3 RAMPS UP

Supercars will introduce its Gen3 cars in August 2022, promising closer competition and reduced costs while making it safer and quicker to fix cars that look more like their road-going counterparts. Supercars’ Adrian Burgess explains the philosophy behind Gen3.

G

en3 will pave the way for the Camaro to take on the Mustang, but it’s so much more than just a change of cars from General Motors. The core features of Gen3 are: a lower profile for a better fit for the Camaro and Mustang; a reduction of downforce compared to the current cars; introduction of control front uprights and engines; crate engines with varying capacities between Ford and General Motors (expected to be a 5.4-litre Ford developed by Mostech Race Engines and a 5.7-litre General Motors LS1); safety improvements such as the driver positioning being closer to the centre and an access point in the roof for

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driver extraction; detachable front and rear clips to speed up the repair of damaged cars; and an automatic gear shift system as part of the probable move to a paddle shift. Following on from the introduction of a control chassis with Car of the Future and the recent change to more control componentry such as the dampers from last season, the move to control front uprights and crate engines represents another significant step in equalising the cars. As it stands, the only difference between cars will be the engine specifications and body shapes between the manufacturers. Supercars insists, however, that there will still be enough scope for adjustability for

teams and drivers when Gen3 debuts in August 2022. Supercars’ head of motorsport manager, Adrian Burgess, explains the philosophy behind Gen3: “Part of the whole philosophy of the Gen3 car is to give everyone exactly the same product, but give them something that’s adjustable. “The engineers can make a difference or not, but they won’t be going away and changing a pickup point on an upright by five millimetres, costing themselves $50,000 in building new uprights. “That side of the car and the program should generate a fairly significant cost reduction for the teams, and the amount of staff that it needs to operate the car.

“So what’s on the car, the uprights and the wishbones and the roll bars that are on the car on day one, will be the same ones that are on the car five years later. They won’t be going away and continually re-engineering or redesigning any part of the car. “It should come down to whoever’s done the best job on the day between the engineer and driver and the team. It won’t come down to the size of your chequebook and just turn into an arms race about developing a car. “It’s not like Formula 1 where you’re bringing 30, 40, 50 developments to every grand prix; that’s not sustainable. “We need to protect the teams and we need to deliver

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them a car that’s cost-effective. It’s sustainable and then you don’t need an army of thousands and millions and millions (of dollars) to run. “It’s one of the most expensive parts of our sport currently, the development race that is allowed to go on. The size of the teams and the engineering departments is fairly significant. They’re always trying to change the car and improve it by the smallest margins and details, day in, day out. “The car is far more of a control car than we’ve ever seen in the past, which is a good thing, but they’re not coming out of one place. “This will be like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything will be

designed for you, and there will be single-source suppliers of lots of components. That will only happen if it’s the right financial outcome for everybody, but anyone can go and put this car together. “Equally, a small team that doesn’t have the manpower or resources to be building its cars can go to a Tickford or a DJR or a Triple Eight or go anywhere and actually get those guys to put it together. What they’re putting together is exactly the same as any other team will be able to put together. “The only things that will be different will be the body shape and the engine. Everything else will be exactly the same. They will all have

control front suspension; all the cabin layout will be exactly the same; all the suspension, front and rear; all the kinematics. “Everything will be controlled for them. The only thing the teams will need to worry about is what stickers they put on the outside of the thing. Apart from that, it will be a control car. “It will be a very adjustable control car; we don’t want to go down the route where everyone’s got exactly the same thing. “What we did with the rear suspension for Car of the Future when we made that a control component, we’re doing exactly the same on the front. But it’s very adjustable,

like the rear of the car is, because we want teams to be able to do a good job or a bad job. We still want people to go to a racetrack and it’s going to be the best team, driver and engineer combination that will come out on top. “We want all the small teams to know that they’ve got exactly the same as the big teams have got, or the successful teams, and they’ve all got the same chances. “It will create a very level playing field and it will be down to the teams. It won’t be an engineering or a financial race to go and buy an advantage that one team can have over another team. Everyone will have the same equipment.”

Renders of the Camaro Gen3 Supercar in the colours of Brodie Kostecki’s #99 Boost Mobile entry, produced by ssMEDIA and released by Erebus Motorsport. The lower profile of the Gen3 cars allows for a better fit for the two-door coupe Camaro and Mustang.

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15/6/21 2:34 pm


TITLE BATTLE HEATS UP

Shane van Gisbergen looked to be cruising to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship title with a run of six consecutive wins to start the season, but his rivals have stepped up to make it a more competitive championship race.

T

riple Eight Race Engineering’s Shane van Gisbergen remains the favourite for the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, off the back of six wins from the opening six races of the season. But a handful of drivers have staked their claim to challenge the Holden driver entering the

second half of the season. Van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup remains in contention in his last full-time season, with consistency the key in his bid for an eighth and final championship win. The next-best Holden challenger is Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert, who broke through for his first win with the team at Symmons

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regular podium finisher, with the defending champions resetting in 2021 with improving results over the course of the season. Davison’s teammate Anton De Pasquale scored the team’s first win of the season at The Bend Motorsport Park, but costly retirements have forced him to play catch up in the title race.

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Outside of the championship contenders, there’s a number of challengers for race wins and podiums. Kelly Grove Racing and Team 18 are capable of taking the fight to the contenders. The former scored its first win with Ford courtesy of André Heimgartner at The Bend Motorsport Park, while David Reynolds is settling into the team. Team 18 has also become a regular in the top 10 with Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye. Brad Jones Racing has bounced back from a challenging start to the season with Nick Percat again leading the team’s charge, with another top-10 finish on the cards. Perhaps the biggest surprise is at Erebus Motorsport, with its all-rookie line-up of Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown exceeding expectations with a stunning podium for Kostecki at Sandown.

Matt Stone Racing and Team Sydney are attempting to move up into the midfield battle, while the Blanchard Racing Team continues its learning curve in its first season as an independent entry. The Repco Bathurst 1000

will once again be crucial to the title battle as the only endurance event on the schedule, with an all-star cast of co-drivers entering the fray alongside the championship protagonists. They include Garth Tander with van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes with

Whincup, Lee Holdsworth with Mostert and, pending his availability and ability to travel to Australia in time, Scott McLaughlin with Davison. Visit SupercarXtra.com. au for the latest news and reports from the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.

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RETURNING TO NEW ZEALAND

If all goes to plan, Supercars will head to New Zealand for the first time in more than two years in November. It’ll mark another step towards normality following the disruption caused by COVID-19, and could pave the way for more Supercars events in New Zealand.

S

upercars celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first championship round held outside of Australia in 2021. And it hopes to celebrate the milestone with its return to the track that hosted that historic round back in 2001. If the trans-Tasman travel bubble remains open, Supercars will head to New Zealand to stage the ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Park Raceway in November. The COVID-19 pandemic and closure of travel between Australia and New Zealand forced the cancellation of the event last season, which was due to be held at Hampton Downs for the first time on

the ANZAC Day long weekend in 2020. Supercars will return to Pukekohe with the category’s popularity in New Zealand continuing to grow in recent years, off the back of championship success for Kiwi drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin and race wins for Fabian Coulthard and André Heimgartner. “It will be over two years since we visited New Zealand when we arrive this November. We can’t wait to get back and see our fans and partners there,” says Supercars CEO Sean Seamer. “We’ve been working closely with Auckland Unlimited and ITM to put this event in place, and we are excited to return to Pukekohe again in 2021.

“We can’t thank them enough for their flexibility and partnership over the last 18 months. “Pukekohe holds a special place in Supercars’ history as the first venue to host an international championship round, which is what we will celebrate this year, 20 years since that spectacular debut. “The Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, awarded to the winner of the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, is one of the most respected awards for Supercars’ drivers, which adds something extra to this event every year.” With Hampton Downs also capable of hosting Supercars, there are growing calls for the category to capitalise on its trans-Tasman popularity with a

second round in New Zealand. It’s a proposal backed by many in Supercars, including Craig Lowndes (see page 18), with Seamer stating, “We are going to Pukekohe this year, but Hampton Downs is still very much on our radar.” A second round there also makes economic sense given the cost associated with travelling to New Zealand. Supercars’ New Zealand round was held at Pukekohe from 2001 to 2007, returning to the redeveloped circuit in 2013 following a five-year stint at the Hamilton Street Circuit between 2008 and 2012. Visit SupercarXtra.com.au for the latest news around the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship schedule and confirmation of the event dates.

Supercars is hoping to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first international round held at Pukekohe.

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18/6/21 11:30 am


BATHURST WILDCARDS

Two greats return to the track in wildcard entries at the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000, with Russell Ingall and Greg Murphy teaming with Broc Feeney and Richie Stanaway respectively in a pair of Holden ZB Commodores.

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ildcard entries will add further spice to the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000, with Russell Ingall and Greg Murphy back on track. Ingall and Broc Feeney will drive a Supercheap Auto-backed Holden ZB Commodore (pictured below) for Triple Eight Race Engineering. The age gap between the two is 38 years and 236 days, the biggest age difference between co-drivers in the Great Race. To put that into context, Ingall finished in second place in the 2002 Bathurst 1000, five days before Feeney was born. Ingall returns to Supercars after a five-year absence. The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner and 2005 Supercars

12

champion last raced at Bathurst with Kelly Racing in 2016. He will make his 26th start in the Bathurst 1000, moving into equal seventh on the all-time Great Race starts list, alongside his co-driver from his wins in 1995 and 1997, Larry Perkins. “I’m looking forward to driving a Triple Eight-prepared car for the first time and sharing the car with Broc, who is a terrific young driver with an enormous future,” says Ingall. “We are going to Bathurst to be competitive. We have every intention of being right in the mix and giving the fans something to cheer about, otherwise we might as well stay at home.” Feeney made his Bathurst 1000 debut on his 18th birthday with Tickford Racing

in 2020, scoring a top 10 alongside James Courtney. He switched to Triple Eight in 2021, with victory in the Dunlop Super2 Series season opener at Bathurst. “Having the chance to race with a Supercars and Bathurst champion is an exciting prospect and will certainly help to boost my racing career,” says Feeney. Murphy teams with Richie Stanaway in a Boost Mobilebacked ZB Commodore for Erebus Motorsport. Murphy last raced at Bathurst for the Holden Racing Team in 2014, with the four-time winner of the Great Race set to make his 23rd start at the event. “I’m very fortunate and lucky to be presented with the opportunity to go back and race at a place that means so

much to me,” says Murphy. Stanaway walked away from Supercars at the end of 2019 following troubled seasons with Tickford Racing and Garry Rogers Motorsport, returning to motorsport and reuniting with sponsor Boost Mobile. “I’ve had a really good relationship with Boost; it’s been great to have a sponsor that’s supported me and believed in me,” says Stanaway. “Murph has always been a big inspiration of mine and driving with Murph is one of the big reasons why I want to come back. It’s cool to have someone of his calibre back in the car at the biggest race of the year.” Visit SupercarXtra.com.au for the latest news on pairings and more for the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000.

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EXPERT INSIGHT

BEYOND THE WHEEL Column by Mark Winterbottom

THE COMPETITIVE CHALLENGE

S

upercars is one of the most competitive categories in motorsport. Just a few tenths of a second are the difference between being at the front or rear of the grid. And with overtaking difficult, the margins between success and failure are so small. With a control chassis and so many control components, there’s little opportunity to gain a technological advantage over an opponent. And this will become even more difficult with Gen3 set to introduce control front uprights and engines, which are currently two areas that teams work on a lot. The key to competitive success in Supercars is to

16

maximise what you have and produce a package that works across a number of different circuits. It’s easier said than done, though. We are all looking for such minimal gains from the few things we can change and develop. However, even though those parts are limited, when added up they make for a big number of settings and options. This is where teams and drivers can get into trouble, going down a path that doesn’t work and getting lost with setup. All this is happening on the go over the course of a season with such limited track time. Test days are so few and far between in Supercars, which makes it very difficult to make big changes to the car as you

need to stay within a certain window on race weekends so you don’t get too lost. It’s why test days are some of the hardest days on drivers and crews, as it’s a rare opportunity to throw big changes at the car, maximise the runs on track to put them to the test and quickly analyse if they worked with the little time available. At the race weekends, practice time is more about dialling in the car for that particular track for both qualifying and the race, which require different setups as one is about pure speed and the other about driveability and tyre life. There’s very little time to experiment. It’ll be fascinating to see how this evolves under Gen3

with the introduction of control engines and uprights and, in particular, the reduction in downforce. While the use of a paddle shift has been a big talking point, the decrease in aerodynamic grip and reliance on mechanical grip will be more important. At the end of the day, the important thing is that the racing is close, overtaking is possible and it comes down to drivers and teams rather than the equipment. If you can execute well, then you should have a chance of winning. The move to more control parts may not be to everyone’s liking, but if it keeps teams on the grid and allows them to be competitive, then that’s really good for the sport. – Frosty

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RED BULL NOW HOLDEN RACING TEAM 2019

November 2017 - Order Form No

Customer___Pole Position P/L

Debtor ID________________________

Order No.__________________________

Rep Name_______________________

Order Date___December 02, 2017

Delivery Date_____________________

Item No.

DON’T MISS O UT

ORDER

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

Scheduled Production

W/S $

RR

149.00

25

149.00

25

Due nd

750

2 Qtr 2018

1,000

2 Qtr 2018

nd

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

These special livery model cars have just been announced andBeare available Orders Must Received By 30th November 20 now to pre-order. It’s a great model to add to your collection! ∗∗∗ IMPORTANT NOTE ∗∗∗ Please place your orders by return email, fax or post only. Phone orders will no longer be accepted.

IN STOCK!

November DELIVERIES

The following will commence being dispatched on approximately 23rd November 20 ITEM NO.

CLASSIC CARLECTABLES

LE

DON T MISS O’U T PRE-O RDER

18612

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

750

18636

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

1000

VAN GISBERGEN AND TANDER’S 2020 BATHURST 1000 WINNER NOW HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE

NEW

This special livery model is now available. Perfect to add to your collection!

SCALE 1: 64

$20 + P&H

WHINCUP

VAN GISBERGEN

SCALE 1: 43

$40+ P&H

November 2017 - Order Form No.1

JAMIE WHINCUP’S 2019 RED BULL HOLDEN RACING TEAM #88 HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE RESIN

3 SIZES SCALE 1:18 $179 +p&h SCALE 1:43 $39.99 +p&h SCALE 1:64 $19.95 +p&h Customer___Pole Position P/L

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

Due nd

750

2 Qtr 2018

1,000

2 Qtr 2018

nd

W/S $

RRP $

149.00

259.00

149.00

259.00

November 2017 - Order Form No.1

Order Qty

2

$179 + P&H

SHANE VAN GISBERGEN’S 2019 RED BULL HOLDEN RACING TEAM #97 HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE RESIN

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

2 Qtr 2018

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

03 9370 6755 Orders Must Be Received By 30th November 2017

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

www.podium-gear.myshopify.com P17 Bathurst 2020 Model PG.indd 17

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

18/6/21 11:33 am


EXPERT INSIGHT

RIGHT ON TRACK

Column by Craig Lowndes

THE CALENDAR MOVING FORWARD

T

he 2021 Repco Supercars Championship calendar is more what we are used to after the unprecedented events of last year, with the hope there will be even more to look forward to in 2022. Adelaide set the tone for the season with the action the track produced, the location, the fans and atmosphere, and Newcastle can do the same as the new season opener in 2022. It’s a challenging circuit and is a worthy successor to Adelaide as a showpiece streetcircuit event. While the loss of Adelaide has robbed Supercars of one of its best events, the number of street circuits on the calendar seems about right. They are

18

very expensive to set up and take down, with their sustainability often depending on government support. The likes of Newcastle, Townsville and the Gold Coast have that support, giving Supercars key marquee street-circuits that are spread out across the calendar and make up around a quarter of the schedule. There’s also the prospect of night racing on the Gold Coast, which would help add a new element to the seasonending event. It would be a great spectacle on what is already one of the most spectacular street circuits. Having the championship decided under lights with the party vibe at night on the streets of Surfers Paradise will be a fitting way to end a season.

We’ve already seen the lift the events at Sydney Motorsport Park and Wanneroo Raceway enjoyed as a result of hosting night events. Supercars suits racing under lights, with the flames out the side of the cars and brake discs glowing adding to the variety of the show. There could also be the addition of more events in New Zealand. The fanbase over there is big enough to support a second round, while Hampton Downs is a worthy host alongside Pukekohe Park. Supercars proved last season that you can have back-to-back events over consecutive weekends, and it would certainly make sense to capitalise on the trip across the Tasman with more than one round. Closer to home, it would be great to see Phillip Island return to the schedule. It’s one of the best circuits in Australia; a fast, flowing, European-style circuit with great elevation change and variety in corner speeds. While it may have struggled to get a crowd compared to other permanent circuits, it should still have a presence either as a sprint or endurance round given the challenge it provides to the drivers. The big thing the calendar needs is the return of the Enduro Cup, with the Bathurst 1000 as the showpiece, preferably the Sandown 500 as the lead-in event and another round if the Gold Coast will instead host the season finale. The Enduro Cup’s great strength is it’s a series in a

series, giving co-drivers the chance to compete in their own championship. The return of a multi-round endurance campaign will also help strengthen the Bathurst 1000, with co-drivers and teams better prepared for the endurance classic. There’s no question that the Bathurst 1000 and other endurance events belong in the championship. Just like the Indy 500 in the IndyCar Series, it’s the one race we all want to win, but it’s still part of a bigger championship race. The important thing is that there’s a few endurance events, even if they need to be spread out through the calendar and away from the end of the season to help differentiate from the championship itself. Overall, the schedule running over a calendar year works well, as opposed to running over summer over two years. Australia and New Zealand are big enough that Supercars can move around states and territories to find the best time of year to maximise the best weather. Supercars can also adapt to when there’s an Olympics or something similar, with the flexibility to pause over the winter months with a mid-season break to allow the teams to regroup for the second half of the season. With a more normal calendar of events in the coming years, the return of the Enduro Cup will only help Supercars bolster its season. – Craig

SUPERCAR XTRA

SCX122 p18 Lowndes column.indd 18

7/06/2021 2:13:51 PM


NEW 2019 SUPERCAR MODEL

ORDER YOUR MODEL TODAY

RED BULL HOLDEN RACING NOW TEAM 2019

November 2017 - Order Form No

Customer___Pole Position P/L

Debtor ID________________________

Order No.__________________________

Rep Name_______________________

Order Date___December 02, 2017

Delivery Date_____________________

DON’T MISS O UT

Item No.

IN STOCK!

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

ORDER

W/S $

RR

149.00

25

149.00

25

Due nd

750

2 Qtr 2018

1,000

2 Qtr 2018

nd

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

These special livery model cars have just been announced andBeare available Orders Must Received By 30th November 20 now to pre-order. It’s a great model to add to your collection! ∗∗∗ IMPORTANT NOTE ∗∗∗ Please place your orders by return email, fax or post only. Phone orders will no longer be accepted.

November DELIVERIES

The following will commence being dispatched on approximately 23rd November 20 ITEM NO.

CLASSIC CARLECTABLES

LE

DON T MISS O’U T PRE-O RDER

18612

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

750

18636

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

1000

NOW

NEW

1965 BATHURST WINNER

CORTINA GT 500 WHINCUP GISBERGEN This special livery model has just beenVAN announced and is available to order. Perfect to add to your collection! November 2017 - Order Form No.1

JAMIE WHINCUP’S 2019 RED BULL HOLDEN RACING TEAM #88 HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE RESIN

3 SIZES SCALE 1:18 $179 +p&h SCALE 1:43 $39.99 +p&h SCALE 1:64 $19.95 +p&h Customer___Pole Position P/L

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

Due nd

750

2 Qtr 2018

1,000

2 Qtr 2018

nd

W/S $

RRP $

149.00

259.00

149.00

259.00

November 2017 - Order Form No.1

Order Qty

2

$279 + P&H

SHANE VAN GISBERGEN’S 2019 RED BULL HOLDEN RACING TEAM #97 HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE RESIN

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

2 Qtr 2018

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

03 9370 6755 Orders Must Be Received By 30th November 2017

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

www.podium-gear.myshopify.com P19 Cortina Model PG.indd 19

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

18/6/21 11:35 am


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CHAZ MOSTERT & WALKINSHAW ANDRETTI UNITED

22 22

SUPERCAR SUPERCARXTRA XTRA

SCX122 p22-26 Mostert feature.indd 22

17/06/2021 11:30:37 AM


CHAZZLE DAZZLE

WORDS Jordan Mulach IMAGES Walkinshaw Andretti United, Supercars, Peter Norton

The Chaz Mostert-Walkinshaw Andretti United combination is starting to live up to its potential, with both parties stepping up to become genuine championship contenders in their second season together. This is the story of their rise.

T

he start of the 2018 season was a big occasion for the team formerly known as the Holden Racing Team (HRT). With the glory days of Holden factory backing well and truly behind them, Walkinshaw Racing had to find a new way forward. Enter two of motorsport’s biggest outfits: Andretti Autosport, headed by former IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, and United Autosports, run by the man whose day job is being McLaren’s Formula 1 team boss, Zak Brown. In October 2017, Ryan Walkinshaw declared war on the powerhouse teams by announcing Andretti and Brown had joined the iconic team, which was then rebranded as Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU). The two WAU drivers would remain the same as James Courtney kept his seat after joining HRT as defending champion in 2011, driving alongside the team’s new recruit Scott Pye, who managed a valiant second at Bathurst in the days following the announcement. Despite United Autosports only taking a 25 percent stake in the team compared to the 37.5 percent which Andretti Autosport invested, it was Brown who had made first contact after purchasing a former HRT race-winning car. In 2017, Brown bought the 2011 Bathurst 1000-winning car of Garth Tander and Nick Percat (chassis WR 014) and subsequently got in touch with Walkinshaw through former Holden Dealer Team manager and Courtney’s agent, Alan Gow. From there the wheels were put in motion, culminating in the announcement in October around the investment and then the cars turning a wheel for the first time at the start of 2018 with the debut of the Holden ZB Commodore. Walkinshaw Andretti United only took five races to get their first Supercars victory with Pye in 2018, breaking through in wet conditions at Albert Park

to claim the first major piece of silverware for the freshly rebranded super-team. But no one could have predicted it would take another 1121 days for the team to stand atop the podium again. From the first win to the second, WAU went through seismic changes which were aimed at delivering championships, not just race wins. Trying to follow in the steps of the other international superteam DJR Team Penske, the squad which once had the backing of the almighty General Motors kept climbing up the pecking order, finally leading to Chaz Mostert taking the chequered flag first in Race 8 of 2021 at Symmons Plains. “When I came to the team, there was a little dry spell for the team to get results,” says Mostert. “Now there’s obviously a direction there; the cars can be fast and you can win races, and it’s proven. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself from last year into this year, trying to get this elusive race win for our team. “To guys like Ryan, Zak and Michael, to have faith in me to lead this team and get a race win again, it’s so rewarding to give back to our guys and our sponsors.” Mostert’s move to WAU at the beginning of 2020 was heralded as one of the best things to happen to the Clayton-based team in the recent past, having only managed 11th and 12th in the drivers’ standings the year before with drivers Courtney and Pye respectively, coming off the back of the 2018 season where Pye shot to seventh. A key ingredient of Mostert’s move to WAU was the acquisition of his long-time engineer Adam De Borre from Tickford Racing. All of Mostert’s Supercars victories thus far have been with De Borre as his race engineer, meaning keeping the two together was always going to be invaluable for WAU. It didn’t take long for the partnership to find success, securing a second place in the second race of the season-opening Adelaide 500 ahead of Mostert’s SUPERCAR XTRA

SCX122 p22-26 Mostert feature.indd 23

23

17/06/2021 11:30:52 AM


CHAZ MOSTERT & WALKINSHAW ANDRETTI UNITED

Mostert returned to the top step of the podium for the first time in more than two years in 2021.

24

former Tickford teammate Cameron Waters and behind the all-conquering Scott McLaughlin. Although podiums remained elusive over the next 12 races, four finishes in the top five and nine in the top 10 over the same time period showed the relationship was starting to gel. The second half of 2020 netted four podiums for Mostert, including his first trip to the Bathurst podium since his win in 2014. He was alongside the team’s regular co-driver Warren Luff, who has proved to be WAU’s most valuable asset at the Mount Panorama Circuit and is now equal first on the list of drivers with the most Bathurst podiums yet to win. Things weren’t just improving on the #25 side of the garage either. Reigning Dunlop Super2 Series champion Bryce Fullwood was having his debut season in the team’s #2 car and amidst a mixed bag of results secured a maiden podium in Race 25 at The Bend Motorsport Park to achieve 18th in the championship. Despite going winless for the first time since 2016, Mostert was able to take home fifth at the end of the season, being classified as a finisher in each race. Frustratingly for WAU, some retirements from Fullwood meant they could only manage seventh in the teams’ standings, just 150 points adrift of the fourth-placed Tickford Racing combination of car #5 and #23/#44. Though the off-season driver market heading into 2021 proved to be one of the busiest silly seasons yet, WAU retained the services of Mostert and Fullwood but triggered a change behind the scenes with two-time Bathurst 1000 and championshipwinning engineer Grant McPherson being poached from Triple Eight Race Engineering. While McPherson was placed on gardening leave

to start the 2021 season with the understanding he won’t start in his new role as head of performance until mid-year, the expectation that he will be a major factor in the team’s resurgence heading into Gen3 shows the confidence WAU has in their current package. The intersection of Mostert and WAU’s relationship has come at a crucial time for both of them, with each needing to get back to the top of their game to silence the critics. Mostert exploded onto the scene in 2013 when he raced for Dick Johnson Racing, on loan from Ford Performance Racing (FPR), taking a shock victory at Queensland Raceway. His move to the main FPR squad in 2014 netted a win at Barbagallo Raceway and was followed by arguably the best finish to a Bathurst 1000 of all time, winning the Great Race with veteran Paul Morris despite starting at the back of the grid. His strong form in 2014 led straight into 2015 when the FG X Falcon was introduced, with the renamed Prodrive Racing Australia team dominating the year. Mark Winterbottom and Mostert sat first and second respectively in the championship heading into Bathurst. Just when his stocks were at their highest, it was almost all thrown away on the first flying lap of qualifying at Mount Panorama. When the #6 car ricocheted down the mountain on approach to Forrest’s Elbow, no one knew just how much it would harm Mostert’s momentum over the coming years. A broken femur and wrist left Mostert out for the rest of the year. Though he conquered his Bathurst demons by winning the 2016 Bathurst 6 Hour with good friend Nathan Morcom and a pole position at the seasonopening Adelaide 500, a winless year in Supercars

SUPERCAR XTRA

SCX122 p22-26 Mostert feature.indd 24

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showed there was still work to be done to get back with the cream of the crop in the series. 2017 proved itself to be a great comeback season for Mostert and the Prodrive team who had struggled the year prior. Three wins, including one in tricky conditions at the Gold Coast 600, put Mostert in the title hunt heading into the final round, though he had to settle for fifth overall at the conclusion of the year. With three podium appearances and a race victory at the Gold Coast in 2018, Mostert was the best of the now-Tickford Racing cars but still could only manage sixth in the standings. As the Ford teams upgraded from the aging Falcon to the new Mustang for 2019, many started to ask whether Mostert could actually get the job done. Victory from seventh on the grid in the fifth race of the year at Albert Park plus a round win showed he had the pace to fight at the front again, though this proved to be a false dawn with Mostert failing to record another victory for the rest of the season as rumours began to circulate about his imminent departure from the team. The situation within Tickford wasn’t helped by a series of late-season mistakes, chief among which was Mostert running into the team’s #6 car piloted by Waters for yet another time at the Bathurst 1000, taking them both out of a race they could have been in contention to win. By now, the writing was on the wall, and it was finally sealed when the #55 Mustang was written off in the first Shootout session of the Gold Coast 600 weekend, meaning two-time defending event

winner Mostert would have to sit on the sidelines. In keeping with what has recently become a tradition within the paddock, Mostert’s departure to WAU was handled by the Tickford team as they wrapped him to a moving trolley after the final race of the year in Newcastle, wheeling their long-time partner down the pitlane and into the WAU garage. Despite the move being the worst-kept secret of the 2019 season, it still was being treated as a secret up until two days after the Tickford stunt when WAU finally announced they would have Mostert as a part of the team on a multi-year deal, replacing Pye and Courtney alongside Fullwood. The departure of Courtney and Pye saw the first revamp of a Walkinshaw line-up since 1998, the year which saw Craig Lowndes return to the team after a European stint and Mark Skaife take on his first of 11 seasons with HRT. The need for a reshuffle seemed obvious heading into 2020; the team going without a championship win in 18 seasons, despite having drivers such as Garth Tander, Will Davison and Courtney on their books. When Holden announced in 2016 that the factory HRT status would go across to Triple Eight from Walkinshaw, fans were up in arms, but the statistics made it hard to argue against. It took Triple Eight from the start of 2010 when they joined Holden until Race 16 of the 2016 championship to secure 100 wins under the red banner. In the same time period, HRT only won 15 races. It was somehow ironic then that Tander and codriver Luff would win the 2016 Sandown 500 only a few weeks after the announcement was made

Mostert has been key in accelerating the development of Walkinshaw Andretti United.

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CHAZ MOSTERT & WALKINSHAW ANDRETTI UNITED

Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United scored their first win together in Tasmania in 2021.

26

that HRT would lose the Holden money, made even more ironic by the fact they beat the Triple Eight car of Shane van Gisbergen and Alexandre Prémat. The Sandown victory would end up being the team’s last while officially flying the flag for Holden, having to wait until the aforementioned Melbourne 400 at Albert Park for their next win, while Triple Eight managed eleven victories from when they adopted the HRT moniker until Pye broke through for WAU. As of 2021, Walkinshaw has failed to record a drivers’ championship with its main team since Skaife’s third in a row way back in 2002, as the fallout of Tom Walkinshaw’s empire collapsing made its way to Australia. Mostert’s fifth position in last year’s championship was a solid effort despite not winning a race, though he ended up trailing the series champion, Scott McLaughlin, by 618 points. “When you get yourself in a good starting position and you’ve been on a drought for race wins for a long time and you start on the front row so many times, it’s gone the other way and you’ve gone backwards,” says Mostert on the winless run. “I think we rolled out a bit better this year, but we’re still trying to find our feet a bit. “The podiums across the last 12 months have been great, but to get the win and know that you

got the biggest trophy at the end of the day is really confidence-inspiring. It gives us self-belief in what we can do.” Will McPherson have a major impact on the team towards the end of the current season? Will his departure from Triple Eight hinder the current Holden front-runners heading into the Gen3 regulations? Or can Mostert finally break his duck and prove himself to be a solid contender for titles, not just races? With Mostert and De Borre finally getting their heads around the WAU ZB Commodore, it seems inevitable that they will be able to take the challenge to the front of the pack and perhaps bring success to a team which has been starved of it for so long. With a new multi-year deal signed between Mostert and WAU, the combination will continue to get stronger in the following years. “It’s been pretty incredible to see what we’ve been able to achieve together in a short amount of time, under some pretty challenging circumstances, so I’m excited for the future, and have no doubt that will continue,” says Mostert on the new deal. “It was a no-brainer for me to re-sign, that’s for sure. This team is incredible, full of amazing people, and it is very family orientated. Why would I leave my family?”

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15/6/21 10:10 am


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18/6/21 11:36 am


JAMIE WHINCUP

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WORDS Adrian Musolino IMAGES Supercars, Justin Deeley, Paul Nathan

Jamie Whincup will retire from full-time driving to take on the role of team principal at Triple Eight Race Engineering at the end of 2021. It’ll mark the end of an era in Supercars, with Whincup the undisputed greatest driver in the current era of the category and, as we consider, arguably the greatest of all time.

F

ifteen years ago, 23-year-old Jamie Whincup joined Triple Eight Race Engineering for the 2006 Supercars season. No one could’ve predicted the success that followed. Whincup was hired by Triple Eight for the role of number two and co-driver to Craig Lowndes. While Lowndes had already won three championships and come close to another in 2005, Whincup had bounced back from a disappointing rookie season that had seen him fired by Garry Rogers Motorsport at the end of 2003, a solid endurance campaign with Perkins Engineering in 2004 and a career-changing season with Tasman Motorsport in 2005. In his first year with Triple Eight, Whincup won the season-opening event in Adelaide and teamed with Lowndes to claim victory at Bathurst. Whincup’s 10th in the championship standings wasn’t a true indication of his season, having missed two races as a result of accident damage in Tasmania. But by 2007, he gained the ascendancy within the team and began a championship-contending charge that would see him rewrite the record books. After sixteen seasons with Triple Eight, Whincup will end his full-time career with the following records:

- The most Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars drivers’ titles. - The equal most consecutive Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars drivers’ titles. - The most Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars race wins. - The most Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars pole positions. - The most Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars podiums. - The most Bathurst 1000 wins for a current fulltime driver. - The most Bathurst 1000 podiums for a current full-time driver. - The equal most consecutive Bathurst 500/1000 wins. Whincup took his first championship win in 2008 and backed it up in 2009. After a narrow defeat in 2010, he fought back with four in a row between 2011 and 2014. Then, just as it seemed a new generation had taken over at the top, he won a seventh title in 2017. He also scored five Sandown 500 wins, four Bathurst 1000 wins and two Enduro Cup wins. Between 2007 and 2021, he has finished inside the top five in the championship in each season and only outside the top three on two occasions. SUPERCAR XTRA

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JAMIE WHINCUP

Whincup’s championshipwinning run started in 2008, the first of his seven titles with Triple Eight Race Engineering.

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He has won races in each of his 16 seasons with Triple Eight and podiums in the last 17 seasons. While he did all his winning with Triple Eight, his championship run has spanned two manufacturers (Ford and Holden) and four models (BF Falcon, FG Falcon, VE Commodore and VF Commodore), from the Project Blueprint cars into Car of the Future and Gen2. Between 2008 and 2014, Whincup won over 30 percent of the races in each of those seasons and over 40 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2012. In his non-championship winning seasons between 2008 and 2017, he won 34.6 percent of the races in 2010, 22.2 percent in 2015 and 24.1 percent in 2016. What’s remarkable about Whincup’s run is how close he came to eight consecutive championships between 2007 and 2014, with only a 67-point swing across two seasons needed to add to his tally. In 2007, his first season as a championship contender, he missed the title by two points to the HSV Dealer Team’s Garth Tander. Whincup lost a third place following a disqualification at Eastern Creek midway through the season, with those lost points ultimately costing him the championship. The team had incorrectly used a previous-spec rear brake, which was in the

spares box to use at a post-event ride day. In 2010, the season in which Triple Eight switched from Ford Falcons to Holden Commodores, Whincup lost the title to Dick Johnson Racing’s James Courtney by 65 points. Whincup won nine races compared to Courtney’s five, but unreliability in the change of manufacturers proved the decisive factor with engine troubles at Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island. It meant his championship-winning run would only have ended in 2015, a season in which the new FG X Falcon outpaced the VF Commodore and a puncture at Sandown and a penalty at Bathurst took Whincup out of the title race. Just when it seemed his run of championships had come to an end, with new teammate Shane van Gisbergen winning the title in 2016, Whincup prevailed in a tight championship race in 2017. Despite only four wins over the course of the season, his lowest since 2006, consistency was again the key to his success with 15 podiums despite only two pole positions – one of 14 consecutive seasons with more than 12 podiums. His seventh title demonstrated his ability to compete against a new generation, particularly van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin; only adding to his greatest of all-time case.

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

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1

1

1

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1

1

5th

10th

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3 4

5

10

15th

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

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2020

 Ford BA Falcon  Ford BF Falcon  Ford FG Falcon  Holden VE Commodore  Holden VF Commodore  Holden ZB Commodore The main argument against Whincup is the fact he did all his winning with Triple Eight, having joined the team just as it had grown into a genuine contender. But while Lowndes came close to the titles in 2005 and 2006, it was Whincup who scored Triple Eight’s breakthrough championship win in 2008 and established it as the team to beat. The best drivers inevitably find themselves in the best teams and do the majority of their winning in the best cars. A look through the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/ Supercars highlights this. Ian Geoghegan and Bob Jane became the dominant forces with the strength of their imported cars in the Improved Production era; Allan Moffat and Peter Brock’s fortunes were often dependant

on the level of manufacturer support their teams received in Group C; Jim Richards and Dick Johnson had car advantages for most of their titles in Group A; and Mark Skaife, Lowndes and Whincup headed the field in dominant runs for their teams. Rarely have multiple championship-winning drivers won their titles with different teams. Geoghegan, Johnson, Jane, Moffat, Brock, Lowndes, McLaughlin, Norm Beechey, Glenn Seton and Marcos Ambrose all won their titles with the same team, with Richards and Skaife the only drivers to have won titles with two teams. Therefore, the best gauge of a driver is against his teammate. And, within Triple Eight, Whincup has always had formidable competition with Lowndes and van Gisbergen his only two

A familiar sight over the last decade and a half: Whincup celebrating on the podium with the #1 on his car.

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JAMIE WHINCUP

Whincup’s win in Tasmania in 2021 made it 16 consecutive seasons that he’s won a race in Supercars.

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teammates over the last 16 years; two of the most naturally talented drivers of the modern era and amongst the greats themselves. Whincup prevailed over Lowndes in each season between 2007 and 2014, only coming second best in their spell as teammates in 2015. While van Gisbergen has had the edge over Whincup in recent seasons, with the latter approaching his retirement decision, Whincup still got the better of van Gisbergen in the 2017 championship. Also, Whincup’s 2005 season is a telling nonTriple Eight gauge of his talent. After an endurance co-driving stint with Perkins Engineering, Whincup joined Tasman Motorsport as teammate to the highly-touted Jason Richards. Despite Richards having competed in three more seasons than Whincup, including the season before with Tasman Motorsport, Whincup finished a place ahead of Richards in the championship standings. Whincup also finished ahead of Richards in 15 of the 28 single-driver races, despite Richards holding sway in qualifying, with the teammates joining forces for the endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst and finishing in third and second respectively. The round at the Shanghai International Circuit, Supercars’ only visit to China, proved indicative of

Whincup’s ability. At a new circuit for all drivers, Whincup outpaced the qualifying specialist Richards, while also setting a faster time than reigning champion Ambrose. Whincup claimed top 10 finishes across the three races, climbing to fourth place in the final race of the event. His performances across the season led to Triple Eight signing Whincup for 2006. While some will argue Whincup’s Bathurst 1000 record counts against him, without a win in the Great Race since 2012 and not on the podium since 2013 as a result of costly infringements and mistakes, he has been a regular contender at the Mount Panorama Circuit and is still the most successful active full-time driver in the history of the event. Whincup has notched up record-breaking numbers in one of the most competitive eras of Australian touring cars, depriving a generation of drivers more success. He raised the level for what’s expected of a driver, with his hard work, dedication and application. McLaughlin, who followed his path to win consecutive championships, freely admits that Whincup made him a better driver. Whether Whincup’s records will ever be beaten remains to be seen. If they stand the test of time, then his case for the greatest of all time will be further solidified.

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9/4/21 11:41 3:56 am pm 18/6/21


JESSICA DANE

THE NEXT GENERATION DANE WORDS Andrew Clarke IMAGES Peter Norton

Jessica Dane now has a 30 percent stake in Triple Eight Race Engineering, second only to new investor Tony Quinn. The secondgeneration Dane and Jamie Whincup face the challenge of filling the shoes of Roland Dane, not only to keep the team at the frontend of Supercars but also to expand into other areas.

J

essica Dane acknowledges she is lucky in some ways, but she tells you luck is only part of the story. The other part is one where she carries the skills to take over the commercial operations of Australia’s most successful motorsport team, both on and off the track. One where she has extra knowledge via study and the endorsement of a father who doesn’t follow the path of nepotism. Born 30 years ago, Jess has travelled an interesting path to being part of the leadership structure at Triple Eight Race Engineering. She started life in the media, which took her on a journey through horse magazines and television shows to the Olympics before settling in at Triple Eight, her father Roland Dane’s business. This is where the luck comes into it. But if you know Roland, you know Jess would not be where she is if she couldn’t do the job. He has made her work for it, learn the sport and the team from the ground up before being handed the keys. She calls him Roland or RD; she’s never called him dad just as his father was never granddad or grandpa, he was just Dave. In the last issue of SupercarXtra Magazine, we spoke with Roland and Tony Quinn about the future of the team now that Quinn has taken a significant stake in the operation and Roland has signalled his intent to step away. Quinn stated in that interview that he is investing in Jamie Whincup and Jess as the two operational heads of Triple Eight. So, who is Jessica Dane? And what does she do? “My every day at the moment is changing dramatically, and I think that’s why I’m enjoying it so much,” she says. 34

“I can’t really give you a typical day. I am in the office working in the commercial team, but doing more and more outside of it, working more with management from all departments as we’re transitioning from Roland to Jamie and me taking more of a leading role. “I’m getting far more involved in things like dealing with the governance and other teams. Jamie and I are learning far more about behind the scenes and the political side of it than we ever have. “I am getting far more exposed to team life than I was before as well. On top of all that, I’m doing far more legal work because I’m almost finished my law degree and doing the media side of things while still working on TV with the FIA and Motorsport Australia.” She has worked with Whincup for years, but she has never worked with him like this. Nor has she worked at Triple Eight without Roland. While there is plenty of change, there is also much that is unknown. “We’re still working it all out, to be honest; Jamie and I are still working out how that will all work,” she explains. “Triple Eight is expanding into other categories as we have been over the years with GT. Jamie is very much Supercars focused; it’s what he knows and it’s why he’s going to be undoubtedly one of the best people in pitlane as a team leader. “I’m very keen, as Jamie is as well, on the talent development side of it. Seeing what Triple Eight could be doing in terms of developing future talent, both in the car and out – mechanics and engineers as well as drivers. “Jamie is the person at the front of the ship

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JESSICA DANE

steering it and I’m the person coordinating the crew behind the scenes to make all the magic happen. “I’m so excited about the future; there’s so much opportunity. We’ve got a new workshop further down the road that most people are aware of now. We call them 40 and 73 because that’s the number on the same road. “We are still in 40. That’s going to be a dedicated race shop. We’re still bouncing around ideas about what that’s going to look like when people walk in there, whether it’s a potential customer or a sponsor or whoever, and just be blown away by what we can do as a race team. And then the manufacturing will be further down the road in 73 and is going to be expanding the growth within motorsport and outside of motorsport with what we’re doing. “We have really exciting times ahead and we’re very lucky to have Quinny on board. I think that’s a really nice mix of still retaining that kind of traditional leadership. “RD and Quinny both lead in similar ways, while Jamie and I work well together, so there’s a balance of young and old and new and traditional that I think will work really well.” Since her father first appeared in Supercars nearly 20 years ago, he has been an imposing figure and has built the sport’s most successful team. The wins are there, but it is also a business that makes money. His are big shoes to fill. “I don’t tend to get nervous about things that I can control; this is why I’m terrible at Bathurst. I’ve done everything I can within my power until the cars head out to the grid, then it is out of my control and that’s when I get nervous,” says Jess. “I can’t control how other people feel or what they think, but if I can do my part to bring positivity, then that is good. It’s up to me to do the learning and it’s up to me to absorb as much as I can and put myself in the best position to be able to lead alongside Jamie.” Part of her learning has been the law degree she enrolled in a few years ago. She didn’t know why she did at the time – she never had any intention of practicing as a lawyer – but now she does. “It was back in 2018 and there was a potential for my role to change quite a lot when we were trying to continue the third car with Simona [De Silvestro], which is no secret now,” she explains. “Most people know about that, but my role would have changed significantly with it. When it fell through at the last minute, I knew that I couldn’t go back to just doing what I’d been doing before. “One of my biggest fears in life is feeling stagnant and being in my comfort zone. I think law is always something that has suited my personality and suited my abilities because it’s a close analysis of language and I love the way language works. So, contracts, that kind of stuff, decoding legislation, I really enjoy it, which sounds so mundane, but it helps with things like applying for government grants and that kind of thing. 36

Jamie Whincup will move from the driver’s seat into the role of team principal in 2022.

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“It’s all part and parcel of growing as a person and being able to bring more to the table at Triple Eight. Understanding contracts and dispute resolution is massive.” Which brings us back to her father. His leadership at Triple Eight has played a large part in getting the team to where it is. There is a focus on fixing problems rather than affixing blame. He is a fierce advocate for the things he believes in, and he debates as well as anyone we’ve seen in pitlane before. Rather than try to clone him, Jess will do it in her own way while also recognising his contribution to the team and her life. “I am so lucky to be in the position that I’m in and I don’t take that for granted at all, but you don’t get anywhere with RD without having earnt it, and I would not be where I am without having earnt it,” she says. “Anybody who knows him and knows the way he operates and sees us in a working environment knows that too. I got it harder than most people, to be honest. There was definitely an element when I was younger of feeling like I needed to prove myself, hence why I went off and did other things. “I did six months in TV production back in 2015 because I had lost sight of why I moved back to Australia, which was to work in motorsports. When I went off and did something else, I remembered that I really loved motorsport and that’s why I came back. “There are plenty of people who can sit there and say, ‘Oh, you’re only where you are because of your surname,’ but at the end of the day, do those people really matter? “I’m very fortunate to be able to learn as much as I can of the good stuff from RD, and I know how he leads is not how I will lead. There are things that I’ll take from him and things that I’ll leave, but that’s like anything; you don’t model yourself exactly on one person. “You need to take a little bit of lots of different people and put those elements together to ultimately create the best package for that situation.” It is hard to see Roland going cold turkey, but the rumours about how he will fill his time have already started to make the press. The other factor that will drive it is the opening of the international borders, as he plans to head back to England to spend time with his other daughter. Jess says the work to ease out of the sport started four years ago. “It’s going to be a gradual process, but I don’t think people realise how good he’s been over the last four or so years at stepping away from the Supercars assignments and letting Dutto [Mark Dutton] run the Red Bull side of the garage,” she says. “He’s actually been very good over the last few years of removing himself and letting people grow in their roles. I can’t remember the last time he went into the debrief; he just lets everyone get on with it. It’s not going to be the massive hole being left as people on the outside seem to think. SUPERCAR XTRA

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JESSICA DANE

Roland Dane will step down as team principal in 2022.

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“Jeromy Moore, JJ, is the one who gets most of the calls from him, and the rest of us know if he’s happy. He’ll send whichever driver a text with a thumbs up. If not, then we won’t hear from him.” Another focal point for Jess will be the addition of another woman into a team ownership role in Supercars. “I certainly think from a female perspective it matters; I’ve always seen it as I’m so fortunate to have got into this industry through family. But there are many girls in the world who might never have the opportunity to discover that this is, in fact, their passion,” she says. “If I can do my part in exposing them to that and being a face in pitlane, then that is good. If they can see that, then maybe they’ll see they can do it too. I think the industry will only get better from that. “We’ve got so much potential now, especially in the wake of COVID. There’s so much emphasis on bringing things back on shore, manufacturing locally, engineering locally, but if we don’t grow the base of people who are actually engaged in those areas, then we’re not going to keep innovating and we won’t be able to do it. “We have this amazing opportunity to put Australia at the forefront of technological innovation around the world. Fifty percent of the population is female, and yet females represent anywhere from four percent to 20 percent depending on which specific industry you’re talking about.

“We’ve never really been able to gauge the numbers in motorsport because it is so broad. So, with the work that I’ve done with Motorsport Australia over the years, we know that we can track the number of female license holders, whether that’s a license to drive or whether it’s an officiating license, but you can’t easily track the number of women in motorsport because of the number of roles and the number of categories. “What you see in pitlane isn’t representative of everyone the teams have back at the workshop. And equally, what you see in Supercars is not representative of the grassroots levels because there’s even more women who are working in other categories. “Being exposed to other categories of motorsport has really opened my eyes to how many more women there are working in motorsport and doing it because they love it. “I’ve really loved the opportunity for them to be able to follow that career if they want to.” Jess has six months or so working with her father before Triple Eight is hers and Whincup’s to run, along with Quinn. Just what that team will look like is still uncertain. We know it will remain in Supercars as one of the premier teams; we know it will look at other categories and other opportunities in motorsport. You get the feeling when you talk with Jess that she is not just up for the challenge, but she is embracing it and the changes in her life.

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WILL BROWN

THE WILL TO WIN

WORDS John Bannon IMAGES Supercars, Peter Norton, Jack Martin

On Erebus Motorsport’s books since 2018, Supercars rookie Will Brown signed a long-term deal with the Holden team in 2019 on the promise of a full-time main-game seat in 2021. With three major national championships under his belt in a variety of machinery, it’s no surprise that the Queenslander has been on the pace in his rookie Repco Supercars Championship season. 40

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B

ehind Will Brown’s laid-back exterior is a strong will to win, if you’ll excuse the pun. The 23-year-old has tasted plenty of success in his young career, with Toyota 86 Racing Series and Formula 4 championship wins in the same year and the inaugural TCR Australia title in 2019. On paper, that’s plenty to boast about, but tellingly, when we ask Brown what he’s most proud of, he instead focuses on the one that got away. “I think the most disappointed I have been was not winning the Formula Ford championship [in 2016]. I know that much,” he says. “Most proud? I’m not too sure. I don’t really get too caught

up in it. I think winning the Toyota 86 Series in its first year was great. But I always wanted to win Formula Ford.” While it’s remarkable that the current Erebus Motorsport driver won both the Toyota 86 and Australian Formula 4 championships in 2016, he very nearly won three major national titles that season. “Well, actually, a lot of people don’t know the reason I lost the Formula Ford championship was because Formula 4 and Formula Ford were on the same weekend for their first round,” he says. “So I had to miss Formula Ford and I was 58 points down after the first round. We didn’t lose it by many points. SUPERCAR XTRA

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WILL BROWN

“Formula Ford was the one I really wanted to win that year. If you look at the pedigree of drivers that have won it, and it went down to the final race after missing a round. I worked hard to try and get back, and we won several races in a row in that championship. “I believe we still had an awesome year in Formula Ford; it’s just we missed the first round.” Brown progressed to the Dunlop Super2 Series with Eggleston Motorsport in 2017 and finished ninth in the championship, even after a mechanical failure denied him a maiden win in Newcastle. It was the sort of luck that seemed to cruel his Super2 campaigns. “In my second year I came sixth in the championship; we were going great,” he recalls. “I was thinking of one more year of Super2 and then hopefully I was going to get a drive in the main game. But with the third year things didn’t go to plan at Eggleston. We just didn’t have the year we wanted between all of the cars. I fell back to 12th in that year.” Despite the championship success in other categories, Brown’s struggles to make inroads in Super2, prior to his runner-up finish with Erebus Motorsport-affiliated Image Racing in 2020, was clearly a frustration.

“I don’t know how to say it really. Each year the enduros saved me pretty much,” he says. “At the end of every year, when I jumped in the Erebus car, in a really good car, I was able to be one of the top co-drivers and do standout drives like Gold Coast and Sandown, which sort of saved my career. “At the end of 2018, Erebus signed me straight at the end of Gold Coast. We literally had a five-minute chat, me and Barry [Ryan], and he signed me. And, then at the end of 2019 it was the same. Betty Klimenko and Barry sat me down. We pretty much did that deal for me to be a 2021 driver for them… and that plan has gone ahead. “Betty and Barry have placed a lot of faith in me. That deal doesn’t happen very often in Supercars and you don’t see it happen often at all, a guaranteed seat in a year’s time. So it was pretty cool to do that deal. “Hopefully as a driver they see someone who is quick and able to do the job. Really, there are many aspects to being a driver these days, with how hard it is to get sponsorship. You have to be marketable and also quick; that’s one of the big things.” Brown is often credited as being the whole package, as comfortable chatting to media, sponsors and fans as he is driving a race car fast.

“THE BIGGEST THING I’VE ALWAYS SAID WITH MOTORSPORT IS I DON’T DO THIS FOR THE FAME OR THE MONEY OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. I STARTED RACING GO-KARTS FOR FUN, AND THAT’S WHY I’M RACING SUPERCARS. IT’S PURELY TO ENJOY MYSELF, AND I ENJOY DOING WHAT I’M DOING.” – WILL BROWN

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In part, Brown credits his day job as a car salesman for some of those skills but, equally, it’s reflected in his humble reason for being a driver. “Nah, I’ve never had any training in media; I’m just a used car salesman as well, so maybe there’s a bit of training over the years doing that,” he says. “I’ve always been an easygoing person. I love gokarting and doing everything. The biggest thing I’ve always said with motorsport is I don’t do this for the fame or the money or anything like that. I started racing go-karts for fun, and that’s why I’m racing Supercars. It’s purely to enjoy myself, and I enjoy doing what I’m doing.” Even though Brown has stepped up to a full-time Supercars drive, he is still working for the family business. His brother, who is a commercial pilot normally, is now taking on more of Brown’s role. “We’re got the car yards in Toowoomba, so I’m currently at the car yards,” he says. “I pretty much helped to run them full-time with my Dad up until the end of last year. I’m still doing that. Obviously, Supercars is a little more demanding this year, but I’m trying to get back as much as possible because it’s probably grown to a stage where it’s very hard for Dad to run by himself. “He is getting to an age that he struggles to do that. So it’s great for us that I’m able to come back and help him out. When I signed the deal, my brother was flying full-time. He decided he’d come back. We’ve obviously got planes; he’d fly our plane and work in the family business. He has sort of taken my role.” Brown took no time getting up to speed when he hit the track for the first event at Bathurst this year,

sitting an impressive third on the timesheets before a heavy crash at the Dipper in practice curtailed his strong start. Brown insists he didn’t let it get him down. “To be honest, it probably took until the next morning to get over it. I pretty much went out there and had another crack. I think we might have qualified 17th and the car definitely wasn’t back up to a really high standard. We just rebuilt it for the weekend to try and get some points.” The Queenslander also praises his team for the way they handled the less than ideal situation. “I think the best thing about Erebus is they didn’t call me an idiot or anything like that,” he says. “It was just a silly little mistake that anyone could make throughout the year. So they just said get on with it, we’ll rebuild it. And they didn’t really put me down for being a rookie that has made a mistake. “With that crash, when I was going back in the medical car I thought, I’m not going to let this affect me. I remember thinking that. I wasn’t sure how the team would react to it at that stage. They were all pumped. The cars are fast, you were running third at that stage. So they were like, let’s rebuild and go again.” Overall, Brown has been happy with the start to his rookie season and the opportunity to build on relationships he’s developed after four years at Erebus Motorsport. “Yeah, it’s been a fantastic start to the season and we’re really happy with where we are at,” he reflects. “There’s been a few things that I could’ve done better. But I’m really happy with the results and the pace we’re showing. Me and Tom [Moore, engineer]

Brown spent four seasons in the Dunlop Super2 Series with a championship best of second in 2020.

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WILL BROWN

Brown overcame an accident in practice for the season opener at Bathurst to log some impressive results in his full-time rookie campaign.

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have already had a relationship from all the years I’ve done with Erebus co-driving. I knew Tom very well. So obviously that’s developed this year and will develop even more. He’s been really easy to get along with and is doing a great job for his first year as an engineer.” Brown is one half of a young dynamic driving pairing alongside Brodie Kostecki. They’ve been turning heads up and down pitlane for the strong start to their rookie campaigns. “With Brodie [Kostecki], we’re getting along great,” he says. “I think that’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing so well as teammates; we get along awesome. We don’t hide anything from each other or try and hinder the other one. We’re out to work together, and I think we saw that at Tasmania when I got past Brodie and was trying to fight further ahead. So we’re working well as teammates and we’re not just working for ourselves.” Brown says that the results swinging back and forth between himself and Kostecki help both cars stay in the top half of the field. “I think the great thing for us is that there is no one dominating the other one,” he says. “Obviously, if you are getting flogged by your teammate every weekend, you’d be a little disappointed. There’s one weekend we joked because I said the ‘lead driver’ when I meant the lead car out at Tasmania. “So we joked at Tailem Bend that he might have been the lead driver. You always want to beat your teammate and everyone knows that. And that’s something that you push to do.

“We’re so close to each other and so competitive that it sort of swings back and forth. One qualifying he beats me and the next one I just beat him. You’re not seeing one car fifth and the other one 19th; you’re seeing us both maximising the car and being 10th or 11th or something like that.” Brown has been particularly encouraged by his form in Tasmania and Tailem Bend, after Kostecki made the slightly faster start to the season, recording the team’s first podium for the year at Sandown. “For three Tasmania qualifying [sessions] and that first qualifying [at Tailem Bend], I don’t think we qualified out of the top 10,” beams Brown. “So it’s fantastic to have that sort of pace, and hopefully we can replicate it throughout the year and just build on it. I used to think that my qualifying required more work, but obviously qualifying seems to be really good this year. The car seems to be handling that [qualifying] well. Definitely with our race pace, there has been some understeer creeping into the cars, and that’s something we’ve been working on and I think it’s getting better.” It’s that sort of start to his rookie season that Brown should be happy with. And, after some thought, the affable Queenslander did come up with some proud achievements to date. “I think it has really been co-driving that has been my most memorable memories,” he says. “Probably Sandown 2019, I came second in the co-driver race and passed Garth [Tander]. That for me was probably a standout drive.” And it’s a safe assumption that won’t be the last standout performance from this young rising star going forward.

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P.O.Box 3186, The Pines, VIC, AUS 3109

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JAKE KOSTECKI & ZANE GODDARD

WORDS James Crocker IMAGES Supercars, Peter Norton

After sharing the same entry last season, Jake Kostecki and Zane Goddard moved into their own cars at Matt Stone Racing this season. And their progress is accelerating as a result.

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n 2020, Matt Stone Racing (MSR) raised eyebrows with their unique ‘SuperLite’ concept, which gave two of the Dunlop Super2 Series’ brightest young talents a shot at Supercars’ main game through a shared-car program in the one entry. In 2021, MSR has shown faith in those rookies, signing the two drivers for full-time roles and in the process forming the youngest teammate pairing on this season’s grid. Zane Goddard and Jake Kostecki have come a long way from racing each other in karting on the Gold Coast, now fronting the bright, young MSR operation that has quietly made promising ground throughout the first half of 2021. That the two 21-year-olds were able to make a seamless transition into full-time roles in the main game this season shows that the program has been a success, an idea shared by one of the main supporters behind the program, UNIT Clothing’s Toby Lynch. “It’s a credit to both drivers that, despite being the youngest in the field, they were able to approach the challenges thrown at them with determination and maturity and deliver a series of solid race results,” he says. “As a result, they find themselves graduates of the program and in their own cars for 2021, which is the ultimate outcome. This is now a chance for them to continue to build on their solid results and further refine their race craft against the series’ best.” Team owner Matt Stone’s young team has also been boosted by some key engineering recruits, which have seen the young pairing grab some promising qualifying and race results, as MSR celebrates the 10th anniversary of its foundation. 46

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It has been an interesting journey to Supercars for Goddard, with his career starting in open wheelers with a ninth place in the short-lived Australian Formula 4 championship in 2015, which led to a stint overseas in British Formula 4 and Formula Renault, winning races before returning to Australia in 2018 to compete in the Dunlop Super2 Series with Brad Jones Racing. Goddard’s first season in tin-tops was a steep learning curve, with the then 18-year-old finishing 14th, but a move to Matt White Racing in 2019 lit a fuse on the promising youngster’s Supercars career, finishing on the podium four times in his first four races on his way to fourth in the championship standings. The strong start to the season alerted Stone to his talents, and he became a part of the inaugural ‘SuperLite’ program in 2020. Initially scheduled for Adelaide, Symmons Plains, Pukekohe, Winton and Sydney Motorsport Park, Goddard made his debut on the streets of Adelaide, finishing inside the top 20, before a COVID-19-sized curveball hit, forcing major schedule changes that saw Goddard take on the second Sydney and Darwin rounds, Townsville as well as The Bend Motorsport Park before partnering Kostecki at Bathurst. Goddard raised eyebrows in Sydney, finishing 10th in the third race of the weekend, his best finish in a solid first season. When Goddard progessed to the full-time program for 2021, he took over the #35 Yellow Cover Commodore piloted by Garry Jacobson last year. There have been several new elements to Goddard’s program aside from a full-time schedule, with young engineer Jack Belotti taking charge of the #35 this season. The new partnership has blossomed immediately, with Goddard topping the pre-season test in Queensland before a strong opening round at Bathurst, where he placed 12th in the opening race of the season. A tough Sandown followed before a breakout performance in Tasmania, where he qualified fourth for the final race of the weekend before grabbing a career-best finish of seventh in the race. Despite the strong runs, Goddard is still learning and observing his rivals as he makes his way up in the Supercars world. SUPERCAR XTRA

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JAKE KOSTECKI & ZANE GODDARD

Kostecki stayed in the #34 entry in 2021.

Goddard moved into the #35 entry in 2021.

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“Obviously, they’re the best in the business; they’ve been doing it for a long time, especially last year when I was new to it all, it’s hard not to get star-struck,” he says about his rivals. “At the end of the day, they’re your competition and one day you want to be out there beating them. At this point, I’m still climbing the ladder and you’ve got to learn from the best. “Having your own car and being able to focus on your own program makes it a lot easier, and I think we’ve got a good structure now with Jack, who’s doing a great job. He’s taken over the engineering role at the factory and is working super hard. “The boys are really determined and have got a good rapport, and everyone just enjoys racing at the moment. I think when that happens, that’s when the good stuff happens.” On the other side of the garage is Kostecki, who has been a mainstay in the Supercars scene for the past six years with the Kostecki name becoming synonymous with the Dunlop Super2 Series and now in the main game. Brother Kurt Kostecki returned to the Supercars grid at The Bend Motorsport Park in a Walkinshaw Andretti United wildcard entry, and cousin Brodie Kostecki has starred in the early stages of his fulltime career with Erebus Motorsport. The trio completed the rare feat of having three family members competing on the main-game grid at The Bend Motorsport Park, having done the same in the Dunlop Super2 Series. Jake Kostecki made waves as a 15-year-old, making his debut in the then named V8 Touring Car Series (now Super3), finishing in ninth place in the 2015 season, despite missing a round. He soon graduated with his family team to the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2016 alongside Kurt, finishing 18th in his debut season. Following a tough 2017, in which he placed 22nd in the championship, Kostecki would improve in 2018, grabbing multiple top 10s on his way to 18th in what would be his final full-time Dunlop Super2 Series campaign. A promising 2019 campaign was cut short by Kostecki Brothers Racing’s decision to focus on their wildcard entry in that year’s main-game endurance events. The wildcard program marked Jake’s main-game debut, and whilst an accident at Bathurst ended their day early, strong runs on the Gold Coast and Sandown helped give Jake and Brodie the momentum to get into the main-game frame. The 2020 season saw Kostecki become the other half of the ‘SuperLite’ program, with the pandemic

“HAVING YOUR OWN CAR AND BEING ABLE TO FOCUS ON YOUR OWN PROGRAM MAKES IT A LOT EASIER, AND I THINK WE’VE GOT A GOOD STRUCTURE.” – ZANE GODDARD SUPERCAR XTRA

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JAKE KOSTECKI & ZANE GODDARD

Direct comparisons between the two drivers will now be possible following their move into their own entries.

pushing his debut back to Sydney in late June, having initially been scheduled to debut at the cancelled Australian Grand Prix event in March. The pandemic also saw him compete in four solo rounds rather than the initial five he was scheduled for, before partnering with Goddard at Bathurst. In a tough opening campaign, Kostecki’s best result was a 14th place in Darwin before the duo failed to finish at Bathurst due to a late accident with Goddard at the wheel. For 2021, Kostecki has taken full-time control of the #34 UNIT Commodore that he and Goddard shared last season, initially retaining engineer Tim Newton before he was replaced by experienced engineer Chris Stuckey following the opening round. Kostecki started the season with a few top-15 finishes, though without the standout performance that Goddard produced in Tasmania and cousin Brodie achieved at Sandown. Trying to gel with his engineer after the behindthe-scenes changes, Kostecki has stayed out of trouble and gained valuable experience. Kostecki hails his relationship with boss Stone as a key driver of the program’s progress, with the youngster marvelling at his skills.

“Matt’s hands-on, whether that’s being a mechanic or being on the sidelines, even being a tyre guy. He can do anything, and when he’s in good spirits he keeps us motivated, and he also believes we’re all on the right track,” says Kostecki. “In Supercars, you have to have a good environment around you to go well, and everyone must be heading in the same direction. “We all understand that it takes time; we are a new team relative to the others. This isn’t a game where you can wake up, get to the track and win races. It’s a process.” Team owner Stone is also full of praise for the youngsters’ start to the season, with the team on track to better their last-place finish in the teams’ standings from last season. “Being in that midfield is definitely a good feeling and definitely a great start to the year; the start we were looking for. We feel that our race pace is pretty solid and that’s definitely a strength of ours this season,” he says. With their own entries, Goddard and Kostecki have the chance to accelerate their development and show the merits of the ‘SuperLite’ program in giving youngsters the opportunity to break into the main game of Supercars.

“WE ALL UNDERSTAND THAT IT TAKES TIME; WE ARE A NEW TEAM RELATIVE TO THE OTHERS. THIS ISN’T A GAME WHERE YOU CAN WAKE UP, GET TO THE TRACK AND WIN RACES. IT’S A PROCESS.” – JAKE KOSTECKI 50

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18/6/21 11:43 am


INDYCARS & SUPERCARS

WORDS Adrian Musolino IMAGES Team Penske, ZUMA Press/Alamy Stock Photo, Autopics.com.au

Scott McLaughlin’s ascent from Supercars champion to IndyCar contender has helped raise the profile of the Australian category in North America. But he’s not the first Australian touring-car driver to try his hand at IndyCar racing, or vice versa. 52

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Reigning Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin moved to IndyCar with Team Penske in 2021. SUPERCAR XTRA

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he Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars and the Bathurst 1000 are very different racing disciplines to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, yet there’s been a number of drivers who have crossed over between the tin-top and open-wheeler categories over the decades. In what now seems like the bygone era of drivers racing in a variety of disciplines and categories across continents, three-time Australian Formula 1 world champion Jack Brabham introduced the first rearengined car in the Indianapolis 500 in 1961. Brabham and fellow Australian Formula 1 driver Vern Schuppan made a number of starts in the Indianapolis 500 and Bathurst 1000 with mixed success across the 1960s and into the 1980s. Schuppan was awarded the Indy ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1976, the same year he teamed with Allan Moffat in the Bathurst 1000. He finished in third place at Indianapolis in 1981, followed by his final Bathurst start alongside John Harvey later in the year. Australian touring-car regular and Bathurst 1000 winner Kevin Bartlett made three starts in the 1970 IndyCars championship, though failed to qualify for that year’s Indianapolis 500. In the other direction, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, combined to drive a Ron Hodgson Motors Holden Torana at Bathurst in 1977. Second-generation racer Geoff Brabham had already made three starts in the Bathurst 1000 (including alongside father Jack Brabham in 1977) by the time he became a regular in IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500, finishing in the top 10 in the championship standings three times in addition to 10 starts at Indianapolis with a best result of fourth in 1983. Brabham returned to Australia to win the Super Touring Bathurst 1000 in 1997 in addition to several starts in V8 Supercars. IndyCars headed to Australia to race on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the first time in 1991, with the Gold Coast hosting an IndyCars Series category at the peak of its popularity. This opened the door for more Australians to become involved in IndyCars, with the North American category also exposed to Australian touring cars as the latter became one of the main support acts on the Gold Coast. Gary Brabham, brother of Geoff Brabham, became the first Australian to compete in the Gold Coast IndyCar race with outings in 1993 and 1994, having already made three starts in the Bathurst 1000. IndyCars split in two in 1996 with the creation of the Indy Racing League, an all-oval North Americanbased category in opposition to CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams, soon to become Champ Car), which continued to race on the Gold Coast. While the split had a devastating impact on North American open-wheel racing, it presented more opportunities for new drivers across the competing

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categories, particularly international drivers in CART/ Champ Car. Jason Bright, after winning the Bathurst 1000 in 1998, raced in the Indy Lights series in 2000 and made a one-off appearance in the CART race on the Gold Coast for Della Penna Motorsports in the same year. Supercars race winner David Besnard also made a one-off start on the Gold Coast with Walker Racing in 2004. Besnard raced in various North American categories before returning to Australia to compete in Supercars, with the Gold Coast opportunity coming about through his Supercars team boss, Craig Gore. Gore entered Supercars with WPS Racing in 2004 and became the naming-rights partner of Walker Racing in Champ Car from 2005, with the team rebranded as Team Australia. Bathurst 1000 starter Marcus Marshall raced for Team Australia in Champ Car in 2005, joined by fellow Australian Will Power on the Gold Coast that season. Power replaced Marshall in the entry in 2006. Power, who had raced at Bathurst alongside Mark Larkham in 2002, scored two wins for Team Australia in what would be the final Champ Car season in 2007. IndyCar racing unified in 2008 with Power continuing to impress with another win, with the Team Australia branding moving across to KV Racing Technology. Also winning races was fellow Australian Ryan Briscoe, by then a Bathurst starter with the Holden Racing Team, driving for the powerhouse outfit Team Penske. Briscoe won the non-championship round on the Gold Coast in 2008, the final IndyCar race on the street circuit with the category opting to focus on North American rounds on the amalgamated calendar. Supercars took over as the headline act on the streets of the Gold Coast from 2009 with an international co-driver component added from 2010, paving the way for IndyCar drivers to return to Surfers Paradise. The likes of Marco Andretti, Sébastien Bourdais, Hélio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud, Max Papis, Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal, Jacques Villeneuve and Justin Wilson were amongst the active or former IndyCar drivers who competed at the event between 2010 and 2012. IndyCar series champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was due to compete in the event in 2011 but tragically lost his life in an accident in Las Vegas the week before the Gold Coast event. The trophy for the best-placed international on the Gold Coast was named in his honour. While the format was done away with in 2012, IndyCar and Formula 1 champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Villeneuve made a solo cameo in Supercars as an injury replacement for Greg Murphy at Kelly Racing in that same season, while multiple Champ Car champion Bourdais returned for an impressive endurance campaign with Team 18 in 2015.

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Ryan Briscoe won the last IndyCar race on the Gold Coast in 2008.

Will Power became the first Australian to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2018.

Max Wilson and Simona De Silvestro moved into full-time roles in Supercars from IndyCars. Wilson raced in CART in 2001 before a move to Supercars in 2002, spending six seasons racing in Australia. De Silvestro spent four seasons racing in IndyCars, before a three-year stint in Supercars off the back of two wildcard starts at Bathurst. Team Penske arrived in Supercars as the majority owner of Dick Johnson Racing (rebranded to DJR Team Penske) from 2015. The partnership netted three drivers’ championships and a Bathurst 1000 win before Team Penske split with the team at the end of 2020, with Roger Penske taking ownership of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IndyCar rivals Andretti Autosport followed suit and joined forces with Walkinshaw Racing in 2018, rebranding to Walkinshaw Andretti United. IndyCar great Michael Andretti’s association with the team paved the way for Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi to race in the Bathurst 1000 in a wildcard entry in 2019. They joined the likes of Sam Posey, David Hobbs, Denny Hulme, John Andretti, Scott Pruett, Jan Magnussen, Nicolas Minassian and Alex Tagliani to have raced in IndyCars/CART/Champ Cars and in the Bathurst 1000. Team Penske’s time in Supercars was headlined by Scott McLaughlin’s run of three championship wins. Penske gave McLaughlin the opportunity to test an IndyCar, which paved the way for a one-off outing at the end of 2020 and a full-time drive in 2021. McLaughlin’s teammate Power is well established in IndyCar, becoming the first Australian to win the IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 titles in 2014 and 2018 respectively. McLaughlin is the most successful and high-profile Supercars regular to move into IndyCars; a pioneer in the same way that fellow championship winner Marcos Ambrose was with his move to North America into the NASCAR system in 2006. “Marcos, he gave us some belief when he went to NASCAR and, for sure, he gave me as a young kid some inspiration to do it,” said McLaughlin. “I just hope that it’s the same for myself with some young kids and knowing that you can make it happen if you work hard enough. “Even if you are a Supercar racer right now and have thought about going somewhere, don’t be jealous that I’m here; be excited because if I go well I’m opening the doors for a lot of Supercar drivers in the future. “I really take on that role of being a Supercar ambassador as much as I can. “I’m the current champion and I really want to be a great role model for that, the sport, myself, my country and my family.” With the might of Team Penske behind him and still only 28 years of age, McLaughlin is well positioned to make his mark in IndyCar and potentially pave the way for more Supercars drivers to follow in his footsteps. SUPERCAR XTRA

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FLASHBACK

THE ROOKIE SENSATION

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WORDS Andrew Clarke IMAGES Justin Deeley, Autopics.com.au

Marcos Ambrose stormed onto the scene with Stone Brothers Racing in 2001. Twenty-years on, we reflect on the gamechanging arrival of the ‘Devil Racer’ into Supercars.

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wenty years ago, the Holden Racing Team was dominant. Mark Skaife was in the middle of a three-peat in the championship, while Ford seemed to be on its knees. The AU Falcon was hard work relative to the speedier VX Commodore, but there was a changing of the guard in the Ford ranks that was going to prove a game-changer. Dick Johnson Racing and Glenn Seton Racing were fading from their former glory, while Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) was emerging. Enter a young Marcos Ambrose for the #4 PIRTEK Falcon, with an equally young David Besnard in the #9 Caltex Falcon. Ambrose was talented, ambitious and committed to success. He fitted into the team like a hand fits into its favourite glove. It was, in essence, the perfect combination to unseat the best. He signalled his intent with pole position for his first-ever race at the non-championship Australian Grand Prix. Four race meetings into the season he had his first round win at Hidden Valley Raceway. He went on to finish on the podium eight times and started from pole position three times, including for his first Bathurst 1000. For SBR, Ambrose was a key part of the plan to win championships. He brought the talent and focus it needed to take the next step. It was a risk, but it was calculated. “It did work well and people said it was a gamble,” says Ross Stone on the recruitment of the two young drivers. “Jimmy and I both thought that if you could drive a Formula Ford, well, you could drive a V8 Supercar. “Marcos didn’t drive us any harder than we were already going, although he knew how to get people around him, but any good driver does that.  “We had what we thought was a reasonable car and good engineering. But he was perfect; he was just what we were looking for.” There was a new edge to SBR, and they continued building on a path to the top of the tree. “The timing was right; we had been going for a while and starting to get a bit established with everything we needed, and it was time to get the job done,” adds Stone. “Marcos obviously had a lot of talent, but the second thing is he was a smart operator. He knew what was needed to get the job done, and he just focused on that and whatever it took. He was away in no time.” SUPERCAR XTRA

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FLASHBACK

Ambrose scored pole position for his first Bathurst 1000 in 2001.

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After Ambrose left Australia to race in open-wheel junior categories in Europe between 1998 and 2000, he stayed in constant contact with the Stones, which kept him on their radar. Honda had a youngguns invitational race on the Gold Coast in 2000, for which he was a late addition having just returned from Europe. “We watched how seriously he took that project; he was all eyes and ears and in there doing everything that needed to be done, so I guess that’s what started it all off,” says Stone. Ambrose was solely focused on what he needed to do to win races. He didn’t suffer fools outside the team and that gave him a reputation. Most people never got to see the real Ambrose because he was so focused on what he needed to do to win. He built a great understanding with a young Paul Forgie, who had been promoted at SBR to engineer the #4 car, and together they set about winning and building the sort of driver-engineer relationship that makes all the difference. “He had such a good feel for the car even though he hadn’t driven a V8 Supercar before, but coming from the hard racing he’d done in Europe in Formula 3 and Formula Ford he’d learnt a lot,” says Forgie. “He was pretty determined and had a great skill level. Even that first race meeting he ended up getting pole position there straight away. “The AU, to be fair, wasn’t really competitive with the aero-balance that was more rearward, and we lacked in the front compared to the Holden at the time, so we were on the back foot to start with. “We managed to chip away at the car from what

he could notice and feel from racing around the other guys near the front. His feedback was good, and we knew what we had to do. “He was also good at feeling small changes, stuff that sometimes is hard to pick up on a datatrace. He was able to pinpoint understeer, half a tyre width wider than he wanted to be at a corner when we couldn’t see it. “We had some pole positions, even pole at Bathurst that year, so his outright speed was there. But the speed for the whole race, there was some stuff to work on. Sometimes his starts weren’t the best in the field, as they’re hard cars to get off the line, and he worked on that until he had it mastered. “The following year with the AU, the last round of the year at Sandown was a big turning point. You don’t do it very often, but he was quickest in every session for the weekend and won the races. We knew we were competitive at that stage and the following year the new BA was a definite upgrade for us, and the work we’d done on the AU helped us to get on top of that quickly. “It’s a whole package to win races. You’ve got to have the car, the engine, the driver, and the team in the pits.” Only Craig Lowndes in 1996 had made such an immediate impression. With round and race wins with the AU Falcon in 2001 and 2002, including the dominant weekend in the 2002 season finale at Sandown, Ambrose was ready to capitalise on the arrival of the new BA Falcon in 2003. “I came back at the right time, fell into a fantastic team with fantastic people and the timing was perfect for my run into the sport… and for Ross and

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Jim too with their team,” says Ambrose. “They were up and coming as well and still fairly new as a team, and they were transitioning from older and more established drivers to a couple of young guys. “I didn’t view the Falcon as being inferior; I was paid to race cars and just drove it as fast as I could and tried to help the team set it up as good as they could. I had Paul Forgie and Ben Croke and a whole bunch of young guys with some older guys with amazing talent and so much depth in the team.” The pole positions at the Australian Grand Prix and Bathurst 1000 as a rookie set the tone for the Ambrose-SBR combination, sending a clear message to the rest of the field. “I was brand new in the car and I was an ambassador for the Grand Prix, so they had me running around in the week of the race sort of doing all sorts of things,” reflects Ambrose. “I was sort of pushed and pulled all over the place, and I’d never really driven a V8 around a street track. I’d never even driven on new tyres and I didn’t know what I was doing. I bobbled around there for the first three or four laps, and I just didn’t do a good lap. I had about three or four minutes to go out at the end of the session and do a time. I thought, ‘Right, well, this is going to be the lap right here’ and I made it stick and the rest is history. “I got the pole and Mark [Skaife] came in the window and looked at me with those big eyes and said, ‘Oh, you cut the track! You must’ve cut the track! You cut the track, didn’t you?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, I didn’t cut the track, mate.’ And that’s where it started, the whole thing kicked off. “It was going to be a battle for the next five years between Ford and Holden, and me and Mark and [Greg] Murphy. “It was a shock to me too, to be honest. I started the race the next day and we’d completely missed on the tyre pressures and I went from pole to eighth and I was wobbling around and I couldn’t keep the car on the track. “In many ways, I was out of my league but somehow managed to survive. And that’s what my first year was. I didn’t really understand the dynamics of a big, heavy race car or who I was racing against. Even the politics in the sport. I just jumped in the car and drove, and it’s a sink or swim situation.” The rest is history. Ambrose won two consecutive championships with the BA Falcon in 2003 and 2004 and was in contention for a third in 2005, which was won by teammate Russell Ingall. At the start of the 2005 season he announced he was leaving at season’s end to race NASCAR, where he made history as one of only a few non-American drivers to win a NASCAR Cup race. Ambrose started his first Supercars race from pole in 2001 and left with a pair of race wins in 2005. His time in Supercars may have been limited, including his ill-fated comeback in 2014 and 2015, but his impact on the sport cannot be understated. SUPERCAR XTRA

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WORDS Andrew Clarke IMAGES Autopics.com.au

ARRIVAL OF ‘THE KID’

Craig Lowndes entered the 1996 Australian Touring Car Championship as a rookie that had rocked the establishment at Bathurst two years earlier. He went on to sweep the 1996 season and usher in a generation change. Twenty-five years on, we reflect back on that perfect storm.

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n 1996 it was seen as a bit of a risk to throw a young bloke, ‘The Kid’, into the Australian Touring Car Championship as the teammate to Peter Brock in the factory Holden team. It was fraught with danger on the evidence of the day, but it turned out to be a stroke of genius. Craig Lowndes was ‘The Kid’, and he went on to win the championship with a rookie thumping that had all the hallmarks of a perfect storm, upsetting the accepted order of things. No longer did you have to be in the twilight of your career to be a contender. Times were changing. Lowndes jumped out of the blocks with two round wins, had a couple of ‘learning’ hiccups and then stormed home with a series of race wins and pole positions to claim the title and set up a career which saw him become one of the all-time greats. Off the track, he was learning from an ageing master, and the fan-friendly Lowndes was born as the successor to Brock. There were a number of factors of significance back then to help the 22-year-old into the driver’s seat of the #15 Holden Racing Team (HRT) VR Commodore. While in today’s language 22 sounds old to be kicking a career into top gear, back then it was rare. Lowndes rated it as “a bit of an old blokes club.” He wasn’t too far off the mark with drivers like Brock, Dick Johnson, John Bowe and Larry Perkins in the main drives. Young was Mark Skaife in his late twenties or Glenn Seton, Russell Ingall and Mark Larkham in their thirties. Steven Richards was the only other driver anywhere near his age, two years older and in his first season with Garry Rogers Motorsport. So 22 was young back then, and it was seen by many as a gamble. Lowndes had won pretty much every championship he had entered. He came from good stock; his father Frank was a gun engineer and the chief scrutineer for CAMS and no doubt he had spent many long days and nights chatting race cars with his son. Lowndes had been testing with HRT a lot because there were no test-day restrictions back then and there was a tyre war,

which meant you needed to test regularly. He had two starts at Bathurst under his belt, and he could have had a rookie win there, too. His overtaking move late in the 1994 race around the outside of Bowe at Griffin’s Bend is legendary, but we also know the experience of Bowe in traffic got him back into the lead of the race, which he won with Lowndes placed second with co-driver Brad Jones. When HRT team manager Jeff Grech suggested Lowndes to replace Tomas Mezera for the 1996 season, he had a mighty job convincing bosses John Crennan and Tom Walkinshaw. They needed to trust this kid to take them into the next generation. “Certainly it wasn’t easy and it was a bit of a sudden thing,” explains Grech. “It surprised a lot when the subject got brought up; ‘They are running someone young.’ For the corporate world, including our sponsors and from the team point of view, it was a bit of a hard sell, but you look at where Craig is today and it was clearly worth it. There were a few bruises getting it happening and a few bumps along the way, but I was confident.” He said Crennan took a bit of convincing and Walkinshaw even more, but he got it across the line and they charged into the 1996 season with a near-perfect first round. “It was a big time for us; we had shifted from Notting Hill to Clayton and we had a brand-new car, which was very innovative with things like the Petty Bar, which raised a lot of eyebrows,” says Grech. “Then we threw Craig into it all; if it had backfired, we probably would have looked like gooses and that was always a worry, but in the back of my mind I had confidence in what we were doing. “That first round for us was pretty exciting. Craig got the bit between his teeth and we were off and running. Before you knew he was leading the championship.” He finished second in his first championship race at Eastern Creek and then won the next two races to win his maiden round in the Australian Touring Car Championship. SUPERCAR XTRA

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FLASHBACK

Craig Lowndes won 16 of the 30 races in the 1996 Australian Touring Car Championship.

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His grip on the crown from there slipped a couple of times with rookie errors, but his talent took him back to the top each time and he sealed the crown early. “There was big conjecture about putting me in the car in ’96,” says Lowndes. “The sponsors, from what I understood, weren’t keen on this young kid operating a half-a-milliondollar race car with their logos on the side of it, so HRT took a big gamble at that time. “What a lot of people don’t appreciate today is that at the end of 1995 we went testing… we had something like 13 days of testing through October and November straight after Bathurst at different venues. “I remember being at Eastern Creek and I think we also did Oran Park, Calder, Mallala and Phillip Island. There was a tyre war at the time and no restriction, and by the time I finished the testing program at the end of ’95, I was well prepared for the start of ’96. We started at Eastern Creek with the short circuit and a twilight race meeting and we managed to win that round. I think it shocked everyone at that point.” All up, Lowndes won 16 of the 30 races and took home six round wins. It wasn’t all plain sailing; there were mistakes before he steadied at the halfway point. Eastern Creek and Sandown were round

wins to open the season, and then he crashed with Wayne Gardner at the Bathurst round to give the championship lead to John Bowe. “I hit Gardner at Bathurst and the team urged me to go and apologise to Wayne because it was my mistake,” reflects Lowndes. “I remember going to apologise and he basically tore me a new one. Although later he did say that I’m the only driver that’s ever come up and apologised for something like that, which I think got me back a little respect. “At Phillip Island I ended up shortening the Commodore into a little Barina, going off through the Hayshed with John Bowe. We were leading the race and I think it was the opening lap of that race and we hit a patch of water or something that was on the track and we went off quite quickly and unexpectedly. And I ended up going straight into the tyre fence and he ended up rolling his Falcon.” Lowndes credits his background and growing up around motorsport for the speed of his learning curve. He was always good at finding the limit without overstepping too much. It is the fine steps he makes that have stamped his driving career, as well as his mechanical sympathy and the ability to avoid trouble. “I was quite lucky to have a fairly solid upbringing, and even through Formula Ford, Dad was very

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instrumental in making sure that I worked on the car and I understood the effects of having a crash, for instance,” says Lowndes. “I suppose my upbringing was a little bit of a reason why I was, I wouldn’t say cautious, but I probably just knew where the limit was and I was able to then stay on it and not cross over it too much. But I did make mistakes, there’s no doubt about it. “Jeff was a great person to have around me and PB was a really good sounding board through that year. I remember driving back from Bathurst to Sydney after the Gardner incident. At that point we’d lost the lead of the championship; I thought my world was going to collapse. “PB was really good at being positive about it, learning from your mistakes but not necessarily letting them get you down. Learn from it and move on; just make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.” Off the track, HRT was mindful of growing Lowndes. He did media training and had all that time with the master of the crowd, Brock, during the season. They did a lot of functions together and the spongelike brain inside Lowndes’ head soaked it all in. “The way Peter would recall things and tell stories and interact with the crowd, his way of reading the crowd to change the way he was talking was an eye opener for me,” he says. “He’d recall things from 1972, driving the XU-1 around Bathurst and I’d look at him in awe. I wasn’t even born at that point, yet he could remember so much detail. “I’d stand behind him and just become part of the audience, in the sense of listening to his stories. “So for me it was learning about that side of motor racing and how important it is, but not only for your

longevity but also for the sponsors and the fans.” After a couple of hiccups, Lowndes strung together eight race wins in a row to take control of the championship. At the penultimate round of the season at Mallala, Lowndes had the championship sewn up already. “We went to Oran Park having already won the championship at Mallala when Alan Jones turned me around and I hit Bowe,” says Lowndes. “That altercation with JB allowed me to have enough points to secure the championship. “It was really special to be able to go to Oran Park knowing we were already the champion and just enjoy and soak up the atmosphere. But then to go on to partner with Greg Murphy, who was a young up and comer too at both Sandown and Bathurst and to win both of those as well and have the trifecta, it was an unbelievable feeling!” The 1996 season set Lowndes on track for superstardom, bringing the first of three championships and also the first of seven Bathurst wins. No rookie had ever won the Australian Touring Car Championship since the very first title in 1960 and it is unlikely anyone will repeat that effort. He entered the 1996 season knowing HRT was on the verge of a special era, and for him it was meant to be a learning year and a springboard to a career, which meant it could have been his only season in the series if things had worked out in Europe. “It was a year that for me got me to where I ultimately wanted to go, which was back into open-wheelers and in Europe,” says Lowndes on his move into Formula 3000 in 1997. “Throughout that season it was no secret that I wanted to race in Europe and I got that opportunity, but, of course, that’s another story all in itself…”

Lowndes teamed with Greg Murphy to win the 1996 Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000, completing the Australian touring-car version of the triple crown.

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AUGUST 2021

FROM THE ARCHIVES

THE REVERSE GRID EXPERIMENT

Between 2000 and 2006, Supercars introduced a reverse grid-format at select rounds to mix up the field. It led to the inevitable crash damage and unexpected winners, but the format soon fell out of favour.

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he early 2000s saw a boom in popularity for what was then known as V8 Supercars. In a bid to help grow the sport and appeal to a wider audience, a number of new formats were implemented, including reversegrid races. The controversial format came into place at the first round on the streets of Canberra in 2000, ironically at arguably the least suitable circuit. With round rather than race results the focal point of a weekend, the change added a big variable to the event. The narrow confines of the street circuit made passing nearly impossible, with the field reversed for the second of three races. The predicted carnage didn’t eventuate, though it did

produce a surprise winner in the Holden Young Lions driver Todd Kelly. Partial reverse-grid races followed in the second half of 2000. With Mark Skaife and the Holden Racing Team at the start of their dominant run, such formats would help try and spice up the action. Reverse grids were limited to the Canberra 400 in 2001 and 2002, in a bid to differentiate the event and increase the amount of overtaking. A qualifying session set the grid for the first race with the results from that race reversed to form the grid for the second race. The grid for the third race was set by the combined points total of the previous two races. Steven Richards and Russell Ingall were triumphant in the reverse-grid races in 2001 and 2002 respectively, with the damage bill from those races a frustration for teams.

The demise of the Canberra 400 in 2002 saw reverse grids benched for the time being, only to resurface four years later. They were reintroduced in 2006, a season in which the points system was tweaked to reward consistency. The format was used for the first time that season at the second round at Pukekohe, with a multi-car pile-up setting the tone for the troubles it would cause. The format did achieve the desired result of mixing up the field and giving midfield teams the opportunity to challenge for race wins, with breakthrough victories for Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Dean Canto and Tasman Motorsport’s Jason Richards at Barbagallo and Winton respectively. Other times, though, either the cream rose to the top or leading contenders who had

troubled runs in the opening races prevailed, such as the HSV Dealer Team’s Garth Tander, Ford Performance Racing’s Jason Bright and Skaife across the Pukekohe, Hidden Valley, Queensland Raceway and Oran Park rounds. Oran Park hosted the final reverse-grid race with the format dumped for the final four sprint rounds of the season. Drivers, teams and even fans were increasingly against the format, arguing it had done more harm than good. “While the board felt the reverse-grid format had met many of the intended objectives, it did recognise that it wasn’t suited to all circuits,” said V8 Supercars CEO Wayne Cattach. “What it did do was stimulate a lot of interest and provide some great scenarios each time it was contested.”

The start of the final reverse-grid race at Oran Park Raceway in 2006.

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Profile for Supercar Xtra Magazine

SupercarXtra Magazine Issue 122  

Chazzle Dazzle! The combined threat of Chaz Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United

SupercarXtra Magazine Issue 122  

Chazzle Dazzle! The combined threat of Chaz Mostert and Walkinshaw Andretti United

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