Craig’s Corner: A wide-open season like no other

22 Feb
The first exclusive Supercars.com column by Supercars Hall of Famer Craig Lowndes for the 2024 season

This is the first exclusive Supercars.com column by Supercars Hall of Famer Craig Lowndes for the 2024 season. Seven-time Bathurst winner Lowndes will preview each round of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship from his own perspective, beginning with this weekend’s season-opening Thrifty Bathurst 500.

It’s time to start a new season — and what better place than Bathurst! Last season was epic, and after a big silly season and changes to the cars, I’m expecting a huge year in 2024.

When it comes to championship contenders, this is one of the most wide open and unpredictable seasons I’ve seen in a long time. A lot of drivers have changed teams, and some have even changed manufacturers.

We go into 2024 very much with an open book, so it’s going to be up to drivers and teams to step up and improve on last year. Straightaway, I think of guys like Cam Waters, Chaz Mostert and Broc Feeney, who all have points to prove.

It’s going to very interesting to see throughout this weekend, starting with Practice 1, who’s going to get a handle on the new cars. After wind tunnel testing in the States, the cars have changed, but they will be a handful. Teams have only had a day of testing, so they’ll be under pressure straightaway in Bathurst.

The race is on: This is the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship

Critically, teams will have to change their philosophies on the fly this weekend. The updated cars will handle differently, and set-up decisions won’t necessarily carry over into this season. Drivers and engineers will have to be on point, right from the get-go.

However, it’s a different ball game altogether when you start the season in Bathurst. It’s high-speed. It’s high-risk. Being a solo driver round, you have to find a set-up that is purely for the main driver. Unlike the 1000km race in October, there are no compromises on set-up, when you have two drivers. You have to have a quick car, or you’ll be left behind.

This weekend’s format — two 250km races — is a big difference to what we’re used to in October. No doubt, this weekend will be all about attack. All teams and drivers want winning momentum to start the season — generally, teams and drivers who start a new season with success go on to have a great year. Everyone wants to come out with a bang, especially the drivers who have changed teams. They will want to stamp their authority on their decision to change teams.

However, it all lends itself to risk-taking — and at Mount Panorama, we all know you rarely get second chances when you make a mistake.

So much has unfolded. Given everything, there is no form guide. However, I believe teams that had consistency through last year — like Triple Eight and Erebus Motorsport — should have fast cars, but they will have plenty of competition.


Notably, I’m keen to see how Dave Reynolds gets on at Team 18. He finished 2023 with four podiums, and while Team 18 had flashes of pace, they struggled with consistency. They had a strong test day a few weeks ago, and Davey will bring a different flavour to the team. Mark Winterbottom is a seasoned campaigner, but appears to be hungrier than ever.

The countdown is on to the Thrifty Bathurst 500

No doubt, a lot of attention will be on Erebus. They were a formidable team last year, but so much has changed. How do they come back from everything that happened in the break? They will be determined to pick up where they left off last year, regardless of all the changes.

Triple Eight wants to win back the titles it lost to Erebus last year, and Will Brown arrives alongside Broc Feeney. As always, Triple Eight will be a factor.

Then, there’s Tickford Racing, which has downscaled from four to two cars. They have retained Cam Waters and Thomas Randle, and they aren’t stretching resources over four cars. Could this be their year?

Walkinshaw Andretti United also has a great combination, with Chaz Mostert joined by rookie Ryan Wood. Ryan was outstanding in last year’s Dunlop Series, and will push Chaz along.

Dick Johnson Racing, Penrite Racing and Matt Stone Racing also won races last year, and Brad Jones Racing has a very strong driver line-up and momentum after a 2023 full of trophies.

There are so many potential winners, and it all starts this weekend at the Mountain. I can’t wait to get the new season started!

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