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Analysis: Triple Eight’s make-or-break season

TRIPLE Eight burst out of the blocks in fine fashion at the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship opener – and it had to.

Since Roland Dane retired as Triple Eight boss at the end of ’21, there’s been an ongoing litmus test of sorts for his successor Jamie Whincup.

The Banyo squad utterly dominated 2022, but that was somewhat put down to the established ways carrying over and a supremely refined ZB Commodore package which Shane van Gisbergen and the team’s engineering group had mastered.

Year two was the next big test, as its proven Holdens were superseded by all-new Gen3 Chevrolet Camaros.

There were ups and downs right from the get-go, but ultimately Triple Eight and ‘SVG’ lost out to Erebus Motorsport and Brodie Kostecki.

Whincup has made no secret of not being proud of that defeat; the first time a competitor from the same brand had beaten them in the teams’ championship in 17 years.

The immense workload associated with homologation team duties could in some way be a reasonable excuse for 2023, with Ford counterpart Dick Johnson Racing’s form having dropped off even more severely.

Either way, year three (i.e. 2024) seems the real decider of exactly where Triple Eight is at in its Whincup-led era.

Homologation duties have eased and its 2023 archrival Erebus has been turned upside down.

The Ford Mustang opposition is more of a force to be reckoned with now, but whether any of the Blue Oval teams are ready to consistently contend remains to be seen.

So, the prize is there for the taking, as is the chance for Triple Eight to show itself to still be the ruthless juggernaut – a reputation which had potential to crumble after its 2023 dip and its shift to an unusually young driver line-up.

Broc Feeney and Will Brown. Pic: Nathan Wong

For the first time in 20 years, it doesn’t have a champion in its primary driving ranks (i.e. Craig Lowndes, Whincup and/or van Gisbergen).

But any indications of vulnerability were quickly quelled as its new dynamic duo of Will Brown and Broc Feeney combined to top every session at last month’s Bathurst season-opener.

Now it’s onto Albert Park – the round where Erebus last year roared into a lead it would never surrender – for Triple Eight to show that its new normal is its old winning ways.

Dynasties don’t last forever – see Mercedes in Formula 1, or the Holden Racing Team in the earlier V8 Supercars days – and this season should be the ultimate determiner of where exactly Triple Eight now stands.

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