Battlers to believers: Timeline of Team 18

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship marks Team 18's sixth season as a standalone team, and second as a two-car outfit.

The team was born out of Charlie Schwerkolt's termination of the customer arrangement with Walkinshaw.

From 2016, Schwerkolt, who had skippered a customer entry since 2013, fielded an in-house entry under the Team 18 name.

Last year, armed with a strong driver line-up in Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye, the team recorded its first podiums and ended 2020 with both cars in the top 10.

To gauge Team 18's impressive maiden season as a two-car squad, only two other teams (DJR Team Penske and Triple Eight) managed to get both its cars into the top 10.

For Team 18, since 2016, the only way has been up. Lee Holdsworth managed four top 10 finishes in the team's first season, highlighted by a seventh on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

However, his season was curtailed by a shocking injury in Darwin, with Holdsworth substituted by Kurt Kostecki due to injuries sustained in the crash.

Holdsworth improved to 16th overall in 2017, scoring eight top 10 finishes with a best of fourth in Newcastle.

However, the team went backwards in 2018, with Holdsworth dropping to 21st overall, with his only top 10 finish from 31 starts coming in the very last race of the season.

From 2019, everything changed. Schwerkolt pried Winterbottom away from Tickford Racing and secured backing from IRWIN.

Winterbottom scored a remarkable pole at Symmons Plains in just his seventh start, and finished in the top 10 in five of his first eight races.

However, results fell away and he finished 13th overall, claiming seven top 10 finishes in the final 23 races of the season.

Critically, Winterbottom edged ever closer to the team's first podium as a standalone squad, finishing fourth on the Saturday at Tailem Bend.

The expansion to two cars and the recruitment of Pye pushed the team to new heights in 2020. DEWALT came onboard, with Team 18 boasting two major backers across both cars.

A heavy accident marred Pye's Team 18 debut in Adelaide, and he failed to break into the top 10 across his first seven races.

After that, Pye pieced together one of the most impressive campaigns in 2020, reaching the top 10 in 13 or the final 20 races of the season.

He clinched the team's first podium in Darwin, added another two in Hidden Valley, and famously passed 50 cars across six races in Townsville.

Winterbottom recorded 13 top 10 finishes and finished 10th overall, just 20 points adrift of ninth-placed Pye.

With eighth to 13th overall covered by just 161 points, the Team 18 executed their seasons brilliantly to seal top 10 finishes.

However, ahead of his team's sixth season as a standalone squad, Schwerkolt has eyes on greater successes in 2021, with race wins the next marker.

"2020 was a year where Team 18 stood up with multiple podiums in our first-year as a two-car squad, so for 2021 we want to take the next step forward and be a consistent force in the Supercars championship," Schwerkolt said amid the reveal of Winterbottom's 2021 scheme.

"With the drivers, the crew and the technical nous behind us, we really have what it takes to become a top four team in this championship."

Team 18 will test at Winton on Friday ahead of the Repco Mt Panorama 500. Tickets are on sale now.

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