Six things to look out for in 2021

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 25/01/2021
  • By James Pavey

The countdown to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship continues, and the new season is set to be one of the best yet.

With the 2020 season halted for several weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the category returned to put on a memorable championship.

As the dust settled on 2020, questions turned to the new season, which is set to present a different, more unpredictable look on the results column.

While everyone is hoping for normalcy away from the track, expect the unexpected on track in 2021.

Here are six things that you should keep an eye on this year.

1) Whincup's future

This time last year, rumours of retirement were quelled when Jamie Whincup announced a one-year extension with Triple Eight.

With four wins in 2020, including a crushing victory in Adelaide, Whincup showed why he's regarded as an all-time great. However, he slipped away in the second half of the year, and ended up fourth overall.

His current deal opens the possibility for him to become an eight-time champion. However, he'll turn 38 next month, and he'll also have a new engineer with long-time partner David Cauchi shifting across the garage.

Few drivers will be more motivated to improve in 2021 than Whincup. But with new regulations looming, will Supercars' winningest driver go around again in 2022?

2) A new champion... and new teams' champion?

For the first time since 1997, the reigning champion won't defend his title. However, it also means we'll see a new champion for first time since 2017.

Supercars.com has predicted the title fight will be between Shane van Gisbergen and Cameron Waters, but their rivals will be looking to prove that wrong.

Van Gisbergen is one of 10 drivers this century to win a title, and showed he hadn't lost any speed over the summer with a stunning New Zealand Grand Prix win.

Waters, meanwhile, has also been keeping sharp with a Sprint Car foray.

Triple Eight and Dick Johnson Racing have also shared the last 10 teams' championships. Can Tickford make a further step forward in 2021 amid its downsizing to a three-car effort?

3) A tight(er) midfield

The 2020 championship featured eight different race winners, the most since 2018.

It came amid a season affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an amended calendar seeing 27 races hosted at six different circuits.

With three circuits hosting two events (Sydney Motorsport Park, Townsville and The Bend Motorsport Park) teams were able to learn from their mistakes and apply improved performances at the subsequent event.

Expect the midfield battle to be even tighter in 2021, with 12 different venues slated to host the championship season. From there, can a midfield challenger emerge to become a championship dark horse?

4) Exciting race strategies

A tighter midfield will be influenced by a new tyre compound and the return of refuelling, which could encourage more surprise results.

There will be three different Dunlop tyre compounds used throughout 2021, with the new Dunlop Super Soft tyre to be used at the Winton and Darwin events.

All other events will run with regular hard and soft compounds, with Dunlop celebrating its 20th year as the control tyre for Supercars. Additional tyre allocations introduced in 2020 ensures teams have access to new tyres from first practice.

Races will be shaken up further with fuel strategies to be more prominent in 2021, with refuelling to be needed at the three 500km events and the sole enduro, the Repco Bathurst 1000.

5) New driver-team combos

It was a turbulent silly season, with several 2021 line-ups different to the ones which were fielded in 2020.

With so much change, it's anyone's guess who will emerge best of the drivers who shifted seats ahead of the new season.

On paper, Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison are best-placed and will be buoyed by having championship-winning machinery under them at DJR.

However, a renewed David Reynolds, a returning Tim Slade, a rookie Erebus line-up and a confident Fabian Coulthard will all be looking to steal the limelight.

6) Holden and the current generation cars

The future looks bright with the Gen3 regulations set to burst into life in 2022, with the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to tackle the Ford Mustang GT.

However, fans will have a lot to savour in 2021, with the Holden Commodore set to compete in its final championship season.

A new spectacle will arise in 2022, but this season will also give fans a chance to salute the Commodore and the current generation cars.

Holden's final factory Bathurst appearance ended in victory in 2020. Can the marque depart with an even bigger bang in 2021?

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