Championship leader Brodie Kostecki is revelling in his on-track rivalry with Shane van Gisbergen, and expects it will get “more heated” as the season progresses.
Kostecki and van Gisbergen have crossed paths in a number of battles so far in 2023, notably at Albert Park and Perth.
The Albert Park fight went Kostecki’s way, while van Gisbergen clawed it back in a thrilling battle in Perth, which boiled over in a robust pass after Kostecki was hit with a bad sportsmanship flag.
Through it all, both drivers have maintained respect off the track, with their relationship stemming back as far as an evaluation day in 2019 and beyond.
The rivalry has spilled over off the track with their teams, with Erebus Motorsport mounting a protest over van Gisbergen’s race-winning move in Perth.
Triple Eight boss Jamie Whincup later told V8 Sleuth that Erebus’ 180-point teams’ championship lead “doesn’t sit well with me”.
At the centre of it all are Kostecki and van Gisbergen, with the former enjoying the challenge from Supercars’ benchmark driver.
“To me, it’s just all racing,” Kostecki said on the Rusty’s Garage podcast.
“I can go out there and put my helmet on, and I believe we can both have massive ding-dong battles like we did [in Perth].
“We can get out, shake hands and be happy for each other.
“I’m sure it will get more heated as we go down the line, but as of right now, I really enjoy racing him.
“I believe he enjoyed racing me as well. We both got out after the race and said how awesome it was.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it goes down the line, but so far, it’s great to be able to race each other and fair, in my opinion.”
The battle is also internal for Kostecki, with Erebus teammate Will Brown turning the tide on the #99 on the Sunday in Perth.
Brown scored a pole and beat Kostecki in both Sunday races — including winning Race 8 — to bring himself back into title contention.
Heading to Tasmania, Kostecki leads Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert by 100 points, with van Gisbergen a further 36 points back.
Brown is fourth, 171 points down, with van Gisbergen’s teammate Broc Feeney — who won Race 9 — 220 points back in fifth.
With a quarter of the season done, Kostecki believes any driver in the top six in the points — with Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds sixth — is a chance to win the title.
“Will’s been an awesome teammate,” Kostecki said.
“He showed on the Sunday [in Perth], he got a pole and drove away in that race against me.
“He was putting pressure on Broc for the majority of [Race 9], he’s had great speed as well.
“Definitely can’t count him out either, Broc’s not too far behind either in the championship.
“As far as I’m concerned, anyone’s a threat at this point inside the top six. We have to keep our heads down."
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the NED Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint on May 19-21.
Tickets for the event are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.