Just three days out from the Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint, Supercars.com asked pit lane guru Mark ‘Larko’ Larkham to spill the beans on what storylines he will be watching this weekend and beyond.
How do you see Shane van Gisbergen going this season?
Mark Larkham: Are we about to enter the Shane van Gisbergen era?
Or has this year been crushed by injury? We don’t know.
What about Jamie Whincup?
ML: The guy is an absolute enigma, but now he knows he is retiring.
He’s got an increased team ownership role, and I can give you five names, myself included, that failed as a driver moving into a team ownership role.
Is Cam Waters a genuine championship contender?
ML: He has been a long, long time coming. Too long. But now he is here.
Since Chaz left, he’s stepped up into a team leadership role, I’m really keen to see if he is going to see if he will be a championship contender, I think so, but let’s see.
Is Anton De Pasquale the real deal?
ML: You reckon that kid’s not under a lot of pressure.
He’s one of the most naturally gifted young blokes in our pit lane now, but he has had to step into the shoes of arguably the best team in the lane.
He’s in the best car, with the best engineer in the lane, you reckon he isn’t under pressure?
Have a look at the crash at Bathurst; that tells you everything you need to know. What a fascinating journey it’s going to be, to see how Anton responds from that position.
What does Chaz Mostert have in store?
ML: They did a lot of cool development on those cars in the off-season, now they are finally there.
We have been waiting for Chaz’s re-emergence since he joined Walkinshaw Andretti United and I reckon it’s about to happen.
Can David Reynolds return to the front?
ML: It was well articulated Reynolds was unhappy in his final period at Erebus, now he has moved on from that.
But he hasn’t had his mojo for the last couple of years, he’s clearly one of our top guys but I’m going to be watching to see whether Davey gets his mojo back this year or not.
What do you make of Brodie Kostecki joining the main game?
ML: Man of the match at the Repco Mt Panorama 500 and the toughest young bloke I’ve seen sit in a race car in recent years.
Extremely tough but absolutely fair.
He put his nose everywhere at Bathurst, but not once did he not give someone room, and not once did he do anything dirty or illegal.
I can’t wait to see more of that.
I’ll admit I had reservations; is Brodie going to be able to qualify really well?
Could he be our new Allan Grice, or the next Paul Morris?
Which young guns have impressed you?
ML: Will Brown and Bryce Fullwood, say no more.
Two very talented guys that are again under pressure.
Look what happened to Will at Bathurst, another crasher under pressure, but for me, these two are ones to watch.
What did you make of Tim Slade’s return on the mountain?
None of us predicted that Tim was going to do what he did in terms of speed at Bathurst.
No one saw that coming.
What about Gen3?
ML: I am going to be very much a part of it this year.
I’ll be explaining it and bringing our fan base on where we are going to be taking this car.
“There’s probably 20 or 30 things I could go on about, especially in the post Scott McLaughlin era,” Larkham added.
“We are baking a big cake here and there are a lot of ingredients in it, it just keeps going.
“It’s opened up so many opportunities and I can’t remember a time in this sport where there were so many storylines to play out.
"Can Will Davison come out of the wilderness, which was of no fault of his own, and save his career?
"Can Fabian Coulthard lead from being in the top team to go right down the other end of pit lane? Can he lead Team Sydney up to the pointy end?
"Can Charlie Schwerkolt’s bolstered engineering team keep Team 18 marching forward? Will they get their first race win with the Frosty’s proven form at Bathurst?
"I reckon Andre Heimgartner's one of the most underrated guys in pit lane – will Davey Reynolds be the guy that makes him rise to the next level?”
Catch Larko and the broadcast team at this weekend's Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint. Tickets are on sale now.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo. Check out the full weekend schedule here.