5 intriguing storylines about 2023 season

09 Mar 2023
The next chapter of Supercars starts today
5 mins by James Pavey

After a three-month-long off-season and rapid-fire testing schedule, the new era of the Repco Supercars Championship starts today.

Between March 10 and November 26, 25 drivers and 11 teams will traverse Australia to find the next heroes of the world's toughest touring car championship.

Racing resumes at the Thrifty Newcastle 500, and with it, the next chapter of the Ford and General Motors rivalry begins.

With cars finally on track, Supercars.com runs through some big questions that will be answered this weekend.

1) Can anyone stop van Gisbergen?

In a recent poll, Supercars.com posed the question — who will win the 2023 title? The consensus was clear, with 46 per cent of the vote falling to one Shane van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen is the unanimous star of Supercars, having won 36 of the last 65 races dating back to his 2020 Bathurst 1000 victory.

In 63 years of championship history, few drivers have been able to replicate such a string of dominance — but van Gisbergen hasn’t had it all his own way.

The likes of Cam Waters, Chaz Mostert, Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison have all taken it to the Kiwi, and have — at times — put him in his place.

Let's not forget Jamie Whincup, who was van Gisbergen's first Triple Eight teammate, with his successor Broc Feeney is just getting started.

Testing didn’t unearth much of Red Bull Ampol Racing’s performance with its new Camaros — it didn’t for anyone, really — and van Gisbergen has remained coy over his chances.

The New Zealander has won four of the last six season-opening races dating back to 2017. If he makes it five in seven, his rivals could be in for another long season.

On the flip side, if he can't get it together, who will take his crown?

2) What will the pecking order be?

The new Gen3 cars could spring several surprises, right from the get-go in Newcastle.

Given the establishment at the top, it would be a surprise if the big teams don’t fire in 2023 — but there are still many unknowns about what the grid will look like come Saturday.

Triple Eight, Dick Johnson Racing, Tickford Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United all won races in 2022. Erebus Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing are knocking on the door.

Team 18 has yet to show its best, Penrite Racing has some of the best engineering minds in the lane, and PremiAir Racing, Matt Stone Racing and Blanchard Racing Team are all growing.

That’s 11 out of 11 teams, all with points to prove. Which one will make the biggest statement in Newcastle?

3) Which brand will win the first year of the new era?

There has been so much noise off the track leading to Newcastle, with the brand battle well and truly alive between the Blue Oval and the Chevy brigade.


The rumblings may continue from both sides of the divide, but the rot stops in Newcastle. And when all 25 cars roll out for Practice 1, all bets are off.

The biggest technical changes in history have led to two very different cars, but it will come down to the smartest minds in the lane as to who extracts the best out of them.

Ford is smarting after two seasons of van Gisbergen dominance, and now has 11 cars in its arsenal.

Then, there’s the General Motors army, led by Triple Eight, which has won 28 of the last 64 races since the start of 2021.

4) How will the rookies fare?

It’s hard to tell which of the three rookies has the better end of the stick to start their maiden full-time campaigns.

All three drivers — Declan Fraser, Matt Payne and Cameron Hill — proved in last year’s Super2 Series that they have the mettle required to carve out long Supercars careers.

The average age of the three is just 23, so there’s plenty of time for them to learn. Jamie Whincup has reiterated that young drivers deserve two seasons to prove themselves.

Fraser is armed with Tickford machinery, is the reigning Super2 champion, and is just 22 years old.

Payne is the youngest of the three, and has sharp minds of the ilk of David Cauchi, Grant McPherson and Alistair McVean to lean on at Penrite Racing.

Then, there’s Matt Stone Racing recruit Hill — the 2021 Carrera Cup champion — who has been fast in everything he’s ever driven.

Take your pick — it’s splitting hairs.

5) The Gen3 effect

The new cars have been the headline in Supercars since the new regulations were announced in late 2020.

Compared to their Gen2 predecessors, the Gen3 cars have reduced downforce, are roughly 65kg lighter, and are hard on tyres.

Then, there's the minutiae of the new cars, from smaller wheel nuts, to a single-nozzle fuel receptacle, even to the different placement of the air spike.

While the grid order could change, the on-track entertainment bodes to be world-class — and starting in Newcastle, one of the toughest street circuits there is, only encourages drama.

Garth Tander recently stated the new cars will see competition decided by the "half-percenters", and it doesn't get much closer than that.

How will the new cars race? How hard will they raced early on? Which drivers will adapt the quickest? Thankfully, we don’t have long to wait to find out!

Cars will hit the track at the Thrifty Newcastle 500 for three practice sessions on Friday.

Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

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