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Team 18’s long wait almost over

THE 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will end a wait of more than six years for Team 18.

No team has had longer between drinks when it comes to having a brand-new Supercar in its possession than Charlie Schwerkolt’s squad.

Its last such occasion came in August 2016, when Triple Eight Race Engineering built 888A-044 for Team 18 to replace 888A-030 which was written off in a nasty Darwin crash for Lee Holdsworth.

Ever since then, it has only ever fielded hand-me-down Triple Eight chassis.

Triple Eight, Dick Johnson Racing, Tickford Racing, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Erebus Motorsport, Brad Jones Racing and Grove Racing have all debuted new cars in recent years, while the remainder of the field was not even in existence before 2018 (Matt Stone Racing, PremiAir Racing and the Blanchard Racing Team).

For what it’s worth, PremiAir’s predecessor Tekno Autosports did also run a brand-new car in 2018.

Team 18’s current ZB Commodores, driven by Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye, both have more than 120 races now under their belt.

But the incoming Gen3 ruleset and associated Ford Mustang S650 and Chevrolet Camaro products mean there will be a full reset of the grid come March next year.

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MORE: Team 18 Supercars find new home for 2023

“It’s really exciting to have a brand-new start, it’s a refresh and obviously I think as I’ve said before, it sort of evens the field out a bit,” Schwerkolt told V8 Sleuth.

“Everyone is starting with a brand-new car so the advantages should be less obviously and I think it will help Team 18 be more competitive.

“We’re really proud to go and build two brand-new cars and have two brand-new cars with the potential of having a spare.

“I remember doing all of that at DJR when the FG came in, they were brand-new and taking delivery of them and it was a very special moment.

“But building them as well, the guys will really get a good handle on them and see what we have got and learn these new cars, so it’s very, very exciting.”

Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye will remain at Team 18 in 2023. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

While it will use Triple Eight-built chassis, Team 18 recently made the decision to take the assembly of Gen3 parts in-house.

Both of its Camaro chassis have arrived at its Mount Waverley headquarters; on the track it’s carrying momentum into the new era following an upswing in form.

“We’re building up really nicely,” said Schwerkolt.

OPEN DAY: Team 18 invites fans to view in-build Camaros

“Obviously the key thing is people, that’s what it is all about as with everything in the world, it’s people: getting the best people you possibly can in every field and then you can build on it.

“I’m confident we’re going into Adelaide with a really strong team and really strong package, reliability of the cars is back up where it should be now, power steering issues touch wood are all under control again.

“It’s pleasing to see. You go into the final race of the year strong. We had a strong run at Gold Coast and I think it will be the same in Adelaide, a really strong run and it would be nice to get that podium of course for the last year in a Holden.

“It’s very encouraging for sure and the stability of the team is very important and we’re building on that every race.”

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