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Nine predictions for the 2023 Supercars season

THE 2023 Repco Supercars Championship presents countless unknowns courtesy of Gen3’s long-awaited introduction.

That only makes the annual task of bringing out the crystal ball all the more difficult – but hey, we’ll give it a crack (okay, these may be the views of this writer more so than this publication as a whole).

A wild silly season

All things considered, it’s been a relatively tame 2022/23 silly season – although there is set to be a late twist.

But pretty much all the key parties stayed put, which makes plenty of sense from a team point of view: i.e. eliminating the variable of a new driver when trying to get your head around Gen3.

And so, Triple Eight, Dick Johnson Racing, Tickford Racing (at this stage), Walkinshaw Andretti United, Erebus Motorsport, Team 18 and Brad Jones Racing are all fielding unchanged rosters.

After a year of minimal movement at the top end of the lane, expect the unexpected once teams look to the second year of Gen3.

SVG extends

There’s already been plenty of speculation around what the future holds for Shane van Gisbergen beyond this year, when his current Triple Eight contract is said to expire.

This is going to be an enormous talking point until a resolution is reached.

No doubt, there might be opportunities elsewhere particularly given his supreme versatility (look no further than a stunning WRC debut).

However, van Gisbergen has genuine passion for Supercars – as exhibited by some of his emotion-filled celebrations in a 2022 season of utter dominance – and loves being around his native New Zealand when possible… so we’ll say he’s here to stay for at least a little longer.

Cam Waters celebrates victory at Winton. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

DJR tests the Waters

It will be fascinating to see whether the tide turns back towards DJR and Ford in Gen3 after a couple of seasons where the Stapylton squad has played second fiddle to Triple Eight.

If it doesn’t, change might be investigated… and the team does find itself in an interesting position with its driver line-up.

Will Davison was excellent in 2022 but is getting towards the end of his career (he turns 41 in August); on the other hand, Anton De Pasquale has a decade-plus ahead of him but is coming off a relatively tricky season.

Cam Waters has established himself as the driver best able to take the fight to van Gisbergen, so surely will be worth a look with his current Tickford deal expiring at the end of this year.

The p-word returns

Parity pretty much was a non-factor in the final years of Gen2.

However, it’s already been a topic that has roared to life with Gen3, with Ford’s questioning of the November VCAT boiling over during the Adelaide 500.

There are sure to be a few games being played on both sides of the brand divide, and it’s unlikely to be long before the p-word is mentioned one way or another.

A new teammate battle to savour

James Golding versus Tim Slade at PremiAir Racing has all the hallmarks of an intriguing match-up.

Slade is the big-bucks recruit with a ton of experience under his belt, not to mention two main game race wins.

Tim Slade

Golding is the youngster whose career has had a second wind thanks to an unexpected mid-2022 call-up – and he has the benefit of being a little more entrenched in the team.

Expect this one to be close. And well, it could even get tasty if there’s still only one senior engineer (Geoffrey Slater) between the two of them.

Team 18 does it, at last

Not only will Team 18 score its first podium in years, that elusive first victory will come too.

Gen3 should shake things up and in turn, there should be more contenders for race wins.

It’s been a tough old slog for Charlie Schwerkolt’s organisation but they made genuine progress under the watch of new team manager Bruin Beasley.

And what’s more is they have the personnel to get the job done, not least Richard Hollway, Dennis Huijser, Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye.

Spare TRC stays shelved

I hope this is not the case… but I can see it being another season before the 26th Teams Racing Charter is brought to life.

The Blanchard Racing Team appears to have the inside running, and while that remains the case, there might not be a need to rush into running two cars.

Supercars hasn’t exactly seemed desperate to make it a 26-car grid, either.

Matt Payne. Pic: Nathan Wong

Payne pole

Matt Payne is a serious talent and definitely one to watch this year.

There’s sure to be some ups and downs during the course of his rookie campaign, but don’t be surprised if he puts it all together and ends up on pole position at least once.

We’ll soon get a very real idea of just how good the Kiwi is given he has a proven teammate in David Reynolds as his benchmark.

Supercars lands Singapore

This might be a longshot, but hey, these predictions aren’t designed to be boring.

Barclay Nettlefold and RACE seem intent on taking Supercars to the big stage, and we know talks were held about featuring at the 2023 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.

If they want it bad enough, it just might happen.

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