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HomeNewsThe inadvertently rising upside to Gen3

The inadvertently rising upside to Gen3

UNKNOWN. It’s the one word that every Supercars fan should be increasingly excited about when it comes to Gen3.

After four years of runaway championship winners, there truly is no form guide for the first time in a decade as the clock counts down to the 2023 season.

And perhaps inadvertently, the unknowns are only getting greater.

With each passing day, deadlines tighten and the chance for the usual powerhouses to map out early inroads evaporate.

It’s no secret now that the January 30/February 1 shakedown dates are in severe doubt and that it could be as late as mid-February before teams finally hit the track with their very own cars.

That would leave less than a month from their maiden outing to opening practice at the Thrifty Newcastle 500 on March 10.

Make no mistake, the grid will make it to Round 1… but teams mightn’t have a proper handle on their new weapons until far deeper into the season.

Why is that good? Because there’s every chance of getting some wacky results at Newcastle and what better way to start the new era than to see different faces up the front after a season in which a record 21 race wins went to a single driver (Shane van Gisbergen).

If a driver/engineer hits the sweet spot early, the chance is there to spring a surprise.

Just as easily, a gun driver or team could find itself playing catch-up very quickly, with little knowledge of how to actually make improvements.

By the end of last season, more than half the cars on the aging grid had made more than 100 race starts.

Nine particularly battle-hardened chassis had chalked up more than 150 races, equivalent to roughly five full seasons.

The Sunday leg of the 2022 Adelaide 500 was chassis PRA 1520’s 181st race start. Pic: Nathan Wong

This year, every driver will have brand-new machinery at their disposal – not to mention more control parts than ever, and randomly allocated engines.

And when you cast your eye over the field, there are probably more driver/engineer/team combinations than perhaps is obvious.

Triple Eight of course has the man to beat, van Gisbergen, and the last-ever Holden Supercars race winner, Broc Feeney, in its ranks.

Dick Johnson Racing has Will Davison coming off a fine season and a speedy Anton De Pasquale with a point to prove.

At Tickford, there is the highly rated Cam Waters supported by evergreen James Courtney and Super2 champions Thomas Randle and Declan Fraser.

Both Chaz Mostert and Nick Percat (Walkinshaw Andretti United) are Bathurst 1000 winners, as is Grove Racing’s David Reynolds, whose rookie teammate Matt Payne wouldn’t be a shock to feature up the front at times.

MORE: The parallels between Ricciardo, Percat scenarios

Erebus Motorsport’s Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown have proven themselves as able to match it with the best, while the Scott Pye/Richard Hollway and Mark Winterbottom/Manuel Sanchez combinations have been waiting for this moment to make their mark.

Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown will race Coca-Cola Camaros in 2023. Pic: Supplied

Brad Jones Racing has plenty of clever minds, not to mention a genuine spearhead in Andre Heimgartner, and they were the kings of the last generational change of car.

Matt Stone Racing has complemented the Formula 1 expertise of team principal Pete Vale by adding Supercars title-winning engineer Paul Forgie, and its senior driver Jack Le Brocq does have a race win under his belt.

PremiAir Racing has experience and potential between Tim Slade and James Golding, plus respected staff such as Matt Cook and Geoff Slater, while the Blanchard Racing Team arguably has an element of inside running given it appears to be the best-prepped Gen3 team right now.

All in all, there’s very few cars incapable of fighting for a podium very soon, should the cards fall their way.

Oh, and another unknown? The dreaded parity word.

Talk of discontent from the Ford side erupted last month in Adelaide… but how much of that can be put down to playing the game?

After all, it was only four years ago that the Blue Oval pulled off a masterstroke with the homologation of its then-new Mustang.

Supercars will continue its verification of parity, and other matters on both the Ford and Chevrolet sides, with a closed test at Queensland Raceway today.

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