Rating the off-season driver movements

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 02/06/2017
  • By Supercars.com

The 2017 off-season was relatively stable in terms of driver moments, but those that did shift promised a lot.

Have they all delivered? Supercars.com assesses the early season form of the six full-time drivers who hoped a change of scenery would deliver an upswing in performance.

 

Scott McLaughlin

#17 Shell V-Power Racing from Garry Rogers Motorsport

Scott McLaughlin Race 8 2017 Perth SuperSprint

Whatever few questions lingered over Scott McLaughlin when he traded in the keys to his Volvo S60 for a FG X Falcon have been answered this year.

Third in the points standings hides the fact the Kiwi has been the dominating driver in qualifying this year and is arguably the fastest on track in terms of overall lap speed.

What’s also been telling is how fast the 23-year-old has adjusted to his new surroundings and his excitable French engineer, Ludo Lacroix.

There have been mistakes along the way, with the pair’s miscommunication costing a result at the Clipsal 500, but in terms of teething troubles, there have been few to write about.

A classy combination that has gelled immediately.

 

Garth Tander

#33 Garry Rogers Motorsport from Holden Racing Team

Garth Tander Practice 1 2017 Perth SuperSprint

Unwanted at the then Holden Racing Team despite many years of service, Supercars veteran Garth Tander was snapped up by former outfit Garry Rogers Motorsport with a big point to prove.

With the team transitioning from Volvos to Holden, Tander’s experience, technical abilities and racecraft made him the ideal candidate to replace Scott McLaughlin.

Though the Commodore is not as fast as the Volvo, Tander has done his best to extract the most from the package and has even surprised himself with early results.

The shrewd move from both parties has been one of the early season talking points, with plenty more expected from the combination.

For the reinvigorated driver, the grass has proved greener.

 

Nick Percat

#8 Brad Jones Racing from Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport

Race 2

A move away from Supercars minnow Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport to the race-winning Brad Jones Racing team promised lots for Nick Percat.

Yet a run of bad luck that tore up car #8 at three consecutive weekends is not exactly the welcome he wanted.

Still, Percat remains hopeful. He’s been fast at times in the car and still has his sights set on a championship top-10.

The good news is the results are picking up and the promise of the link-up between the South Australian and the renowned family team is likely to pay dividends soon.

Winton was Percat’s best weekend in terms of points this year and a lot is still expected by the time the enduros roll around.

 

Jason Bright

#56 MEGA Racing from Brad Jones Racing

On track

The 44-year-old driver returned to Prodrive Racing Australia after an 11-year absence replacing the Super Black entry of Chris Pither with his own Racing Entitlement Contract.

On paper, the move gave Prodrive a balanced line-up, with Bright and team-mate Mark Winterbottom bringing experience alongside young hot shots Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters.

However, Bright’s early season start has been hampered by accidents, chassis swaps, weather and all sorts of variables that have prevented him from getting the most from the Ford package.

Compared to this point of the 2016 season at Brad Jones Racing, Bright’s results are worse off, with seventh at Phillip Island a season high.

But the overarching positive remains in his Prodrive team showing there’s a potential race winning package in the right circumstances.

 

Dale Wood

#99 Erebus Motorsport from Nissan Motorsport

Race 2

The results don’t reflect it yet, but Erebus Motorsport is pleased with what Dale Wood is bringing to the team.

An eighth and 14th remain his best results this year, but the former Nissan and BJR driver has brought much needed experience to the team’s second car.

Wood looked pacey in qualifying in the wet at Tasmania and in Perth and has failed to capitalise on his full potential.

The jury remains out on whether the move has been a beneficial one for the Victorian, but the ingredients are there for him to move forward through the field as Erebus continues his improvement.

Even if it does take time to fully settle in, Wood has the bonus of a two-year deal with the team, such is their faith in getting the best out of the 2013 Dunlop Series champion.

 

Scott Pye

#22 Mobil 1 HSV Racing from DJR Team Penske

Scott Pye Practice 3 2017 Winton SuperSprint

The union of former Triple Eight prodigy Scott Pye to the outfit’s former team manager Adrian Burgess at Mobil 1 HSV Racing promised plenty pre-season.

Pye, who was regarded for helping turn around DJR Team Penske’s form in 2015 and 2016, was the young recruit handed the security of a three-year deal and charged with invigorating Walkinshaw Racing after Garth Tander was let go.

It hasn’t gone to plan, however, with the South Australian sitting 20th in the standings and the team scrambling for answers to its pace woes.

While the long-term nature of the deal means there is more to come, the early days of the partnership have not given much to smile about, with Pye yet to crack the top-10.

Of a more immediate concern is Burgess’s exit and both of the teams cars not qualifying in the top-20 at Winton while Scott McLaughlin bagged two poles in Pye’s previous ride at Shell V-Power Racing.

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