Shell V-Power Racing’s move into the coveted first two garages isn’t the only major change to the Supercars pitlane order for 2018.
The Shell team takes the first pit bay from Triple Eight courtesy of its victory in last year’s Teams’ Championship, breaking Triple Eight’s stranglehold on the prime places.
Supercars has now confirmed the remainder of the pit order, which is based on the 2017 Teams’ title but requires several changes due to the various team sizes.
Due to the limited space in pitlane, three-car and single-car squads must find a partner to ensure the 26 entries are serviced from 13 bays.
Personnel limits mean teams sharing a pit bay must also work together during the pitstops themselves, increasing the importance of a strong partnership.
Triple Eight’s third entry for Craig Lowndes will again be paired with the single car run by customer team Tekno Autosports, which is set to be raced by Jack Le Brocq.
At the other end of pitlane, Charlie Schwerkolt’s Preston Hire Racing has linked with fellow single-car squad 23Red Racing after two years joined with Brad Jones Racing.
The third BJR Holden, driven by Tim Blanchard, will now share a garage with the single-car Matt Stone Racing entry of Todd Hazelwood, who step up to the main game utilising Jason Bright's Racing Entitlements Contract.
Determined to improve his squad’s stops, Schwerkolt says his team will be able to work more-closely with fellow Melbourne squad 23Red than it had with the Albury-based BJR.
Schwerkolt's crew will pair with 23Red this season
Phil Munday’s 23Red crew is being managed by Rob Crawford, who worked with the now-Preston Hire team manager Jeff Grech at Walkinshaw during the team's golden era.
“We’re looking forward to partnering with a fresh new team,” Schwerkolt told Supercars.com.
“Phil has built a pitstop car that our guys will go and practice on with them every Friday at their new workshop.
“The two team managers have obviously got a lot of history together, so they’re excited to be working together again.
“It’ll be good to be the first pit box [entering pitlane] as well. You’d either like to be first or last there, I think it’s a small advantage.”
Matt Stone meanwhile told Supercars.com he’s happy to link with BJR, given that joining another Queensland-based squad was not possible.
With no pitstops in the Dunlop Super2 Series races, it is one of many areas that MSR is having to bolster before tackling its first main game season.
“It’s a bit of work for us and [BJR], not having a crew that can practice together at the workshop, but we’ll make it work for both of us,” Stone told Supercars.com.
“We’re down the tail end, but we’ve got to start down the back and work our way up.
“The majority of the crew on our team have prior main game experience, so combining with BJR I think we’ll hit the ground running.”
Within the field, the biggest movers are Shell V-Power Racing, from the seventh bay to the first, and Walkinshaw Andretti, which slips from third to 10th.
Erebus Motorsport's strong 2017 lifts it from the 12th bay to the seventh, while Brad Jones Racing shuffles back from eighth to 11th.
Tickford Racing and Garry Rogers Motorsport have effectively switched places, while Nissan Motorsport moves two bays up the lane to take up the eighth and ninth bays.