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Waters at the centre of silly season speculation

CAM Waters was the talk of the Supercars paddock at Hidden Valley for more than his Saturday victory hopes going up in flames.

The two-time championship runner-up is the key domino yet to definitively fall into place in the fast-approaching silly season.

Three top teams have already declared their drivers are off the market for 2024: Triple Eight Race Engineering, Dick Johnson Racing and Erebus Motorsport.

Other locks are believed to include Chaz Mostert (Walkinshaw Andretti United), Matt Payne (Grove Racing), Mark Winterbottom (Team 18) and Andre Heimgartner (Brad Jones Racing).

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The Waters murmur gathering momentum is a potential move to WAU to reunite with his former teammate Mostert.

Tickford Racing has publicly hinted that its star driver’s future is secure – and has privately stressed that is the case – with his top three championship ranking last year apparently having triggered an automatic contract extension through 2025.

Intriguingly, Waters seemed to contradict that notion during a Castrol Motorsport News Podcast last month, suggesting he’d yet to begin talks regarding next season.

Indeed, if paddock speculation is to be believed, the idea that Waters may no longer be at Tickford in 2024 is becoming more and more of a possibility.

The 28-year-old and Tickford co-owner Rod Nash were spotted in deep conversation late on Saturday night at Hidden Valley.

Nash had not responded to V8 Sleuth’s attempts to contact him today by the time of publication.

Rod Nash. Pic: Ross Gibb

Waters is in his 10th season with the team in a journey that has netted the 2015 Super2 title, 20 pole positions and nine race wins in the main game, but no Bathurst 1000 nor championship crown.

Grove Racing has been linked to making a play for Waters but V8 Sleuth understands the Braeside squad is likely to retain David Reynolds alongside Payne.

That leaves WAU as Waters’ obvious alternative, an option that would make for an all-star driver line-up but one which has a history of teammate clashes from their Tickford days together.

It’s worth noting that such rumours come at a time when Nick Percat has increasingly been matching Mostert.

Percat, who has been plagued by mechanical gremlins, outqualified Mostert for both Sunday races in Darwin – by 17 positions for the first of those.

Although it has been a bumpy road at WAU, Percat is a proven race winner who has struck up a strong bond with Mostert.

WAU also has Kiwi protégé Ryan Wood in its Super2 ranks. Recent speculation has suggested he could be loaned to Team 18 next year to replace Scott Pye.

Another factor to consider with Waters is a potential desire to compete abroad in the foreseeable future, the Mildura product having headed to the States in April to watch NASCAR action at Martinsville Speedway.

That’s also an option for Shane van Gisbergen beyond the end of 2024.

The Triple Eight star will make his Cup Series debut next month in Chicago, while Supercars championship leader Brodie Kostecki is working on a NASCAR deal of his own.

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