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HomeNewsBathurstTen takeaways from Supercars’ Bathurst reset

Ten takeaways from Supercars’ Bathurst reset

AN off-season filled with driver/personnel movements and parity testing turned the form guide upside down for Supercars’ second season of Gen3, and answers only became to emerge during Round 1 last weekend.

Some surprised, others didn’t, but there was plenty to read into as V8 Sleuth does so below.

Game on

Will Brown. Pic: Supplied

Triple Eight sure set about making amends for being beaten by another Chevrolet team last year, stunningly topping every session of the Thrifty Bathurst 500.

So, it’s clear Triple Eight will be a force and are once again the team to beat.

What remains a great mystery though is the internal pecking order after a weekend where Will Brown and Broc Feeney were evenly matched.

Each recorded a pole position and a race win, and there was generally very little to separate them in any given session.

It’s already shaping up to be a fascinating teammate battle… and one which could potentially be for the title.

A new sense of normal

Erebus Motorsport teammates Jack Le Brocq and Todd Hazelwood. Pic: Nathan Wong

Erebus Motorsport is still competitive, but based on Round 1, it’s going to be an uphill battle to repeat its 2023 heroics.

Its engineers and Gen3 philosophies are proven, but it might take time for new drivers Jack Le Brocq and Todd Hazelwood to fully maximise.

Nevertheless, hovering around the edge of the top 10 was no disaster, especially at a race meeting that started with an emotional Betty Klimenko/Barry Ryan interview regarding the Brodie Kostecki saga – and a mechanical mishap that forced JLB out of Practice 1.

On the back foot

Cam Waters. Pic: Nathan Wong

While Chaz Mostert superbly flew the Ford flag, it was a weekend to forget for Cam Waters.

Bad luck, illness and on-track issues conspired to put one of the 2024 championship favourites already 192 points off the title lead.

Waters and Tickford are a resilient bunch though and have been on the back foot before. They’ll need to turn the tables quickly and rebound at Albert Park to not make sure this season doesn’t slip away from them.

2024 cars are quicker

Mark Winterbottom up the inside of Will Davison at Griffins Bend. Pic: Supplied

Okay, this is based more on gut feel than exact data, but the 2024-spec Gen3 Supercars appear quicker following an off-season where they gained downforce.

Kostecki took pole for last year’s Bathurst 1000 with a 2:04.2719s using Dunlop’s soft tyre.

Few heading into this year’s season-opener expected to see a time as fast as Broc Feeney’s 2:05.3317s be set on the hard compound.

If that’s anything to go by, expect there to be plenty of Gen3-era lap records set this season.

The real deal – Part 1

Brad Vaughan, Kai Allen and Aaron Cameron on the Bathurst Super2 podium. Pic: Nathan Wong

Kai Allen surely is the real deal.

On a weekend where it was struggle street for Dick Johnson Racing, whose drivers are both off-contract at the end of year, protégé Allen made the ultimate start to his Super2 title defence.

Donning the #1 and Coca-Cola branding – a combination which had been destined for Kostecki in the main game – Allen qualified on the front row for both races at Bathurst and went on to take a two-from-two sweep.

Oh, and he’s still just 18 years of age.

The real deal – Part 2

Richie Stanaway. Pic: Supplied

Welcome back, Richie Stanaway.

After two torrid full-time Supercars seasons in 2018 and 2019, there was uncertainty around what exactly to expect from Stanaway 2.0 at Grove Racing.

Grove team principal David Cauchi summed it up nicely after Stanaway’s surge to fourth on Saturday: “If that’s him on day one back, then look out.”

Sunday wasn’t quite as headline-grabbing, but taking 11th from 15th on the grid was the result of a mature drive.

Rookie cup

Tim Slade and Ryan Wood find the gravel at the start of Race 1 of the Thrifty Bathurst 500. Pic: Walkinshaw Andretti United

It was a brutal initiation for rookie trio Jaxon Evans, Aaron Love and Ryan Wood, who left Bathurst as the bottom three in the standings.

Wood was especially impressive though, showing excellent qualifying speed before being an unfortunate victim of startline/Turn 1 carnage in both races. There’s no doubting he is one to watch.

Love had a nightmare solo debut, crashing thrice all on his own during the two races. But one positive was how he bounced back from a shocking Saturday to qualify 16th – six places ahead of veteran teammate James Courtney – on the Sunday.

Evans is a proven pro, so his relative struggles are simply proof of how high the standard is, and how unique a challenge it is to tame a Supercar.

An unexpected teammate battle to savour

Cameron Hill runs ahead of Nick Percat. Pic: Supplied

Matt Stone Racing was one of the feel-good stories of Round 1, charging to third in the teams’ championship.

There was validation that Nick Percat hasn’t forgotten how to drive, calmly re-establishing himself inside the top 10.

There was also evidence of why MSR signed Cameron Hill to a two-year deal after what on paper looked to be a trying rookie season, with the Canberran especially impressive on the Saturday.

Reynolds turning up the heat on Frosty

Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds. Pic: Supplied

Speaking of teammates, David Reynolds and Mark Winterbottom are back on the same side, just as they were at Tickford in seasons 2012-15.

Only now the tables have turned, and it’s Reynolds who seems to have the upper hand.

Winterbottom has been a master at accumulating points, but after four years of going toe-to-toe with Scott Pye, Reynolds looks set to raise the bar in qualifying.

‘Frosty’ is a champion and will be determined to not be outdone.

No silver bullet

James Golding. Pic: Supplied

Getting to the front simply doesn’t happen overnight in Supercars, as PremiAir Racing is finding out.

Even after bolstering its brains trust by signing Ludo Lacroix and Mirko De Rosa, it was another up-and-down weekend for Peter Xiberras’ squad.

James Golding showed plenty of promise but little things like the battery issue that forced him to start from the pitlane on Saturday are costly.

The Lacroix way is a proven formula, but it might take some time.

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