Having no form guide for the new Supercars season has Garth Tander excited for the Thrifty Newcastle 500.
This weekend’s event is the first of the new era of Mustang vs Camaro with the Gen3 regulations.
Weeks of testing have yet to uncover a pecking order, while the prototypes also underwent straight line evaluations last week.
Through it all, this weekend’s Newcastle round will be the first time all 25 cars will be cut loose — and Tander is itching for action to commence.
“We genuinely don’t know what the pecking order is,” Tander said on the Rusty’s Garage podcast.
“When the cars roll out for Practice 1 in Newcastle, that’s when you start to get an understanding of the lay of the land.
“That’s what makes this first weekend of ’23 so exciting.”
The five-time Bathurst winner speaks from experience, having completed a number of test outings with new team Penrite Racing.
Tander reiterated that there is potential for a new team to throw its hat in the ring given the unknowns of the new cars.
The 2007 champion highlighted how Brad Jones Racing emerged as a force early in the Car of the Future era in 2013.
BJR burst out of the blocks and won races in the early rounds of 2013 before the usual front-runners hit their strides.
However, given the smaller windows of set-up opportunity with the Gen3 cars, Tander expects the new era to be even more competitive.
“All the noise stops when roll out on Friday morning, and it’s game on,” Tander said
“The cars look fantastic, they sound fantastic… they’re hard to drive, they’re not easy to be accurate in.
“It has the potential to mix it up for a while… Brad Jones Racing was the team that came out of the blocks [in 2013].
“They hit the ground running, they had the form package. I feel like there’s an opportunity for that to happen again here.
“With this current car, it’s the half-percenters that it’s coming down to. It’s that competitive.
“No doubt there will be a team that we’re not used to seeing running at the front, will be amongst it,” Tander said.
“Maybe for the entire season — maybe they’ll hit the ground running, and away they go."
Cars will hit the track at the Thrifty Newcastle 500 for three practice sessions on Friday.
Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.