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Five reasons pecking order could change in 2023

06 Mar
2023 is a new era for Supercars
4 mins by James Pavey
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The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship marks the dawning of a new era given the major technical overhaul of Gen3.

With such change comes the potential for the normal pecking order to be disrupted.

That was the case the last time the cars were overhauled in the Car of the Future era in 2013.

In 2012, only two teams and four full-time drivers won races. In 2013, seven different drivers from five different teams won in the first eight races.

By season’s end in 2013, 13 different drivers from seven teams had won at least one race.

In 2022, just six drivers from four teams won races. Could the competitive order be flipped once again?

Here are the main reasons why the order in 2023 could look very different.

1) New car

Onboard: Gen3 Camaro tackles Tailem Bend

The new car is the most obvious reason the order could be shaken up this season.

Years of hard work from Supercars and the homologation teams will provide a very different car from 2023.

The new Gen3 rules have been designed to improve racing — cars will have the ability to follow each other more closely than previous years.

Right from testing, teams will have new philosophies around performance, aerodynamics and reliability.

The brand new cars won’t necessarily render the form guide redundant, however — the best teams and drivers will ultimately remain that way.

However, with so little carry over from the Gen2 cars, previous form and dominance could be thrown out.

2) Development

Teams will have a very raw product by the team testing begins, and Newcastle will be the first time they will be raced.

From there — as is the case with new rules — there will be a steeper development curve.

Teams will be desperate to learn as much as they can about their respective cars, given the lack of historic data.

Some teams may employ a philosophy that simply works, while others will take some time to work the new cars out.

It has happened before — when Car of the Future debuted in 2013, Brad Jones Racing flew out of the blocks, with Garry Rogers Motorsport also winning.

Through 27 races in 2013, a record-equalling 13 different drivers had won a race.

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Some teams could hit the ground running, but other teams will eventually catch up.

3) Closer racing

Closer and more exciting racing is the main target of the new rules.

Key to the design of the new cars is a reduction of downforce — in the area of 60 per cent — which will ensure any following car isn’t affected when close behind.

In previous years, drivers have complained it was hard to follow other cars, and performance suffered as a result.

With Gen3, the intention is that a driver won’t need a big performance advantage to try and overtake another car.

There is potential for close battles on track, which also encourages more strategy as teams attempt to nullify their rivals.

4) Experience

Veterans like Mark Winterbottom could be a beneficiary

With closer racing and a new car, drivers will also have to be forced to get their heads around a new beast to drive.

With new machinery and subtle differences - such as different seating positions — drivers will no doubt need to adapt their driving styles to get the most out of their new cars.

Experience will play a key role — and it could play into the hands of older drivers who spent much of their career in low downforce cars.

Older drivers will also have a greater understanding of how teams work around developing new cars with the widget they have at their disposal.

5) Tyres

Closer racing and driver performance will also see teams and drivers grapple with tyres — how best to look after them, and how to phase them in.

With a new aero package, tyres will be a major talking point. Operating windows will change, and how drivers use them in races — either in clean air or on the attack — will be even more of a challenge.

A new, softer wet weather tyre will also debut in 2023, which will make wet weather racing even more exciting.

Drivers lose performance when they lose downforce, and there will be more sliding. Push too hard, and the tyre surface will overheat and you’ll lose grip.

Tyre compounds and weekend formats are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Tyres will be a balancing act — and both teams and drivers might have to take more risks to try and beat their rivals.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will commence in Newcastle on March 10-12.

Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

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