Who has the most at stake in the 2020 Supercars season? Who will surprise? And who will be crowned champion?
On the eve of the new season, Fox Sports commentators Mark Skaife, Mark Larkham and Craig Lowndes answer the big questions.
Who has the most at stake in 2020?
SKAIFE: I think the one that still has a high level of pressure and expectation is Walkinshaw Andretti United.
For many years they’ve underperformed and when James Courtney left last year, I made the comment that the thing that left the garage wasn’t the problem with the cars.
I still rate James as one of the best in the field.
There’s a huge amount of expectation as to what Chaz Mostert and [engineer] Adam De Borre bring.
I see it with a fresh set of eyes walking into that garage, not going with traditional engineering outcomes, might actually find a window that’s been missing for a long time.
It used to be the factory Holden team, it has continued to decline to a point where some weekends you just say ‘how can those cars be so far away?’.
Especially at longer radius corners, places like Phillip Island, they’ve just been shocking.
Chaz has the innate ability, he’s very McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, Whincup-like in terms of picking the car up and carrying it and I’m hoping some engineering discipline might bring that to the top.
LARKHAM: Fabian Coulthard, clearly.
We’ve seen him a couple of years now come out strong, punching the first few races and then his campaign tapers off.
The guy is clearly capable but he’s got to be able to stitch the whole campaign together.
Dave Reynolds as well, against Anton De Pasquale. He’s got to be able to show he can fend off that rookie coming at him.
And Cam Waters. He’s now leading that [Tickford] team.
I’m not expecting the other guys in that team, as good as they are, to be ahead of Waters too many times.
If he’s the team leader, he’s the one people go to for the answers, the direction, the discipline, the leadership.
LOWNDES: Walkinshaw Andretti United. If they don’t get out of that mid-pack, they’re in trouble, I think they’ve got a lot to lose.
They’ve eliminated the shock absorbers and the aero parity issue, and having Chaz come in, knowing his ability is not questionable.
If they are not producing results, it’s another factor. So I think they’ve got a very big expectation to perform.
And Tickford. They’ve shown goodness, but they haven’t shown greatness – and as a four-car team they’ve got the ability to be able to do that.
Again, for those elements of the technical changes this year, if they don’t perform better than last year, they’re under the spotlight as well.
Who will be the surprise of the season?
SKAIFE: A couple of guys I'm really looking forward to watching, because I really rate them, are Scott Pye and Jack Le Brocq.
Scott will surprise some people and he'll liven Team 18 up a bit, because it's a fresh face and a new engineering understanding.
And Jack, I've always thought he drove well. But you've got the find the right home.
Jamie Whincup is the best example of that; he parked at all those places until he got to Triple Eight.
LARKHAM: Anton De Pasquale, definitely. I think the dynamic between him and Dave will be a really interesting thing to watch.
Dave hasn’t really responded well to having a teammate around him that’s really putting him under pressure, so Dave’s got to pick that back up again.
Can he? Yes, I think he will – but Anton has done his learning now, we’ve given him a car that’s less technical, I think he’s going to be great to watch.
LOWNDES: Jack Le Brocq will benefit coming from Tekno, which was under-resourced, to a Tickford operation where things will be better funded.
Watching him at the test he was more in his element.
Who will win the 2020 Supercars title?
SKAIFE: I reckon van Gisbergen.
[Because of] some of the parameters – cars moving around a bit more, control shock, stability of the team, I’m sure the parity will be better from the start of the season...
On a day where the car is not quite good enough I think he’s still as good, if not the best of the group, in terms of grabbing it and getting a result.
If he can get the consistency that bit better, I think he’s probably the hardest to beat.
LARKHAM: I’m going to put Scott McLaughlin's nose just in front, and the reason I’m going to do that is for the reasons I said earlier.
The less aero, the fact the cars will move around a bit more, will play to his driving style and I reckon Ludo [Lacroix] will give him a car that fits him like a glove, even with the changes.
I think the car will play to Scott – the caveat being if he can overcome the huge distraction of driving an IndyCar in the middle of the year.
That’s huge, but let’s face it, the kid is disciplined.
LOWNDES: I still reckon that Shane van Gisbergen [will win], just from his ability to adapt.
The mega teams don’t have their advantage with the shock absorbers and all the technology [anymore], it’s literally going to come down to driving what you’ve got at the time.
I think Shane when he is in the right mind-frame can do that and adapt to whatever he’s got. I saw that at the test, he adapted to what the car was.