Driver changes: Who will perform best in 2021?

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/01/2021
  • By James Pavey

It was a turbulent off season, with several drivers changing seats ahead of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.

Earlier this week, the 24-car grid was locked in, just over five weeks from the season-opening event at Bathurst.

Dick Johnson Racing, Erebus Motorsport and Team Sydney all enter 2021 with all-new driver line-ups.

Triple Eight Race Engineering, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Brad Jones Racing and Team 18 will all field unchanged line-ups.

Several other drivers have undergone key changes for 2021, with Jack Le Brocq shifting to the #5 Truck Assist Mustang amid Tickford's downsizing.

Jake Kostecki and Zane Goddard will also complete maiden full-time campaigns for Matt Stone Racing, having shared the #34 Commodore via the SuperLite scheme.

However, the early winners of the off season were Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale, who earned plumb call-ups to DJR.

The veteran-young gun duo will make for an interesting combination, with team boss Ryan Story confident they can keep the champion Ford squad at the top.

Davison is the best-credentialed driver who has changed seats. The two-time Bathurst winner will turn 39 in August, yet is enjoying an off season full of fitness and visits to the team's headquarters in Stapylton.

He could spend the first few rounds trying to remove some rustiness after he was left without a full-time drive following the exit of 23Red Racing last May. However, he returned with a bang with Tickford in a brilliant Bathurst co-driving performance alongside Cameron Waters.

De Pasquale, meanwhile, also enjoyed a relaxing off season following his exit from Erebus Motorsport, where he finally claimed a race win in 2020.

Armed with their best chances yet at a championship, with title-winning machinery and expertise at their disposal, the expectations of Davison and De Pasquale are high.

The DJR duo won't be the only drivers taking the reins of Mustangs in 2021, with David Reynolds and Tim Slade locking in significant deals for the new season.

Last week, Reynolds was confirmed at Kelly Grove Racing, with loyal sponsor Penrite following him to the Ford team amid investment from the Grove Group.

Reynolds is eyeing a rejuvenated effort in 2021 following a torrid 2020 season with Erebus, where he failed to claim a single podium.

The 2017 Bathurst winner is already looking to the iconic circuit to gauge his form, having never raced a Mustang in the championship.

Slade has, though, combining with Scott McLaughlin for last year's Great Race. The former Brad Jones Racing driver missed out on a full-time seat in 2020, but didn't disgrace himself on the mountain last October.

Regardless, the two-time race winner's deal with the revamped, independent Blanchard Racing Team may take time to gel, despite Tim Blanchard making some key recruits in the engineering and management departments.

Erebus, meanwhile, has undergone more change than its rivals, losing its title sponsor and both its drivers.

However, for a team which has always backed youth, the full-time additions of Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki could prove a masterstroke for Erebus, which is looking to restore its hard-nosed edge following a bruising 2020 off season.

That leaves Team Sydney, with Fabian Coulthard and Garry Jacobson forming the Tekno operation's all-new line-up.

Supercars.com predicted that ex-Shell V-Power Racing veteran Coulthard is set for a big 2021, with Team Sydney entering the new year following a formative 2020.

Coulthard appeared to lack confidence at times as team-mate McLaughlin dominated in Shell colours. However, armed with leadership at Team Sydney, a renewed Coulthard will have no baggage to carry over into 2021.

2016 Super2 champion Jacobson has bounced from team to team since he made his main game debut in 2017, but racing alongside a decorated driver in Coulthard can only improve his performance.

Critically, Team Sydney acquired the services of race engineer Dr Geoffrey Slater, who skippered the team's 2016 Bathurst triumph.

The new-look 2021 grid will make its competitive debut at the Mt Panorama 500 across 26-28 February. Tickets for the event are on sale now.

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