hero-img

How the last new car shook up the grid

05 Mar
Newcastle debuts the first big change in a decade
4 mins by James Pavey
Advertisement

The 2023 season sees arguably the biggest technical shake-up in Supercars history, with new cars set to shake up the pecking order.

Last year’s season brought an end to the Gen2 era, which began all the way back in 2013.

There are many unknowns about Gen3, but regardless, next weekend's Thrifty Newcastle 500 will herald a triumphant new era.

It’s anyone’s guess who will come out the gate firing when drivers grapple dual 250km, 95-lap races around the gruelling Newcastle streets.

From there, it will lead to a development war as teams race to get their heads around the new cars fastest.

To mark this dramatic shift, Supercars.com looks back over the last time the technical regulations were overhauled — and the competitive shift that followed.

Gen3 is the biggest shift in a generation

Goodbye Project Blueprint — and hello COTF

The final season of the Project Blueprint cars in 2012 was dominated by two teams.

Triple Eight and Ford Performance Racing (now Tickford Racing) won all races in 2012, putting a lopsided full-stop on the Blueprint era.

The 2013 season saw the introduction of the ‘Car of the Future’ V8 Supercar and with it, a major overhaul.

Nissan and Mercedes-Benz entered the series — four Nissan Altimas prepared by Kelly Racing, and three Mercedes-Benz E63s by Erebus Motorsport.

Holden teams debuted the new VF Commodore, while Ford continued to use the FG Falcon.

The COTF (and later, New Generation V8 Supercar) was centred on control parts. Previously, teams designed and developed their own parts.

From the basic chassis and roll cage, brakes and suspension, everyone had the same parts from 2013.

The immediate shift

Craig Lowndes and Triple Eight came out and crushed the field in the very first race in Adelaide.

However, the seeds were sewn when Shane van Gisbergen and Tekno Autosports took a shock pole position.

Come Sunday, and van Gisbergen won from pole, helping COTF to its first shock in its first weekend.

SVG and Tekno were shock early winners

In the first nine races and three rounds of 2013, seven different drivers from five different teams won.

Brad Jones Racing — which entered 2013 with just two wins to its name — swept the Tasmania round with Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright.

The next event in New Zealand saw four different winners in four races. A teenage Scott McLaughlin became the youngest person to win a V8 Supercar race for Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Then, Jamie Whincup took his first win of the season in a chaotic race which included a last-lap collision with Mark Winterbottom.

Whincup then made an error in the third race, which was won Will Davison, before Bright won the finale and with it, the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.

Advertisement

Through nine races, BJR had the most wins, and a driver with just three podiums led the points.

Established teams fightback before second wave

Triple Eight got their heads around the new car fastest and won nine of the next 13 races.

The pendulum shifted again, with five different drivers — from five different teams — winning the next five races.

Through nine races, BJR had the most wins

McLaughlin won again in Ipswich, with a young Chaz Mostert taking a shock win for Dick Johnson Racing.

James Moffat made it another shock for Nissan at Winton, with Winterbottom and James Courtney clocking up wins for FPR and Holden Racing Team.

Through 27 races and nine rounds, 12 different drivers from eight different teams had tasted victory.

David Reynolds made it 13 on the Gold Coast, equalling the 13 different winners from the 2000 season.

The outcome

The cream rose to the top when it mattered, Triple Eight and FPR sharing the enduro wins and locking out the top four in the points.

As expected, the sharpest engineering minds got to the bottom of the new cars quicker than others, but the key changes were under the skin.

The difference this time around is that Gen3 is a vastly different machine with far less downforce.

NASCAR and Formula 1 both introduced new regulations in 2022. While racing proved closer and more names shot to the top, the normal frontrunners still took out the big wins.

Car to car, however, the new Gen3 Supercars will be dramatically different, centred on an expected downforce reduction of approximately 60 per cent.

13 different drivers won in 2013

Drivers will be forced to adapt their driving styles, with experience to be key given Gen3 will offer closer racing and more sliding around.

Development will again prove key to a team’s overall hopes, as they will have new areas to exploit.

Sharp technical minds will prove just as important as drivers as teams look to find pace in every conceivable area.

For example, Shane van Gisbergen said he and teammate Broc Feeney both have to be firing to keep Triple Eight at the top.

"With him getting faster and faster, hopefully we're pushing each other next year,” van Gisbergen said of Feeney.

"Next year is going to be super important with the new car — we need to push each other to develop it.

"I'm glad he got a year in a well-sorted car before next year.”

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

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

Related News

Advertisement