Opinion: The next gen has Supercars future in safe hands

10 Oct
The next generation, armed with the next generation car, are ready to stand up and fight for their opportunity, writes CHAD NEYLON
4 mins by Chad Neylon

Experience won out over youth on Sunday but it’s now abundantly clear the sport is in very good hands.

There is no hiding from the fact that Supercars looks very different in the post Holden versus Ford era.

The Commodore and Falcon nameplates have disappeared from the grid and only a few of the immensely popular drivers of the mid-2000s remain, mostly in co-driver roles.

On top of that the two most successful drivers in recent years will both be racing in the United States next year in IndyCar and NASCAR.

All that is mentioned above will leave a legendary mark on the history books — but fear not, the next chapter that is about to be written will be equally as exciting. Change should be embraced.

The next generation of Supercars drivers, armed with the next generation Supercar, are ready to stand up and fight for their opportunity. 

Not only are they lightning fast but each have their own unique personality to bring to the show. 

Names like Kostecki, Feeney, Brown, Payne, and Randle are ready to become the next Lowndes, Tander, Whincup, McLaughlin or van Gisbergen.

Final lap: van Gisbergen scores Triple Eight's 10th Bathurst win

Not only do they display speed but also, as we witnessed on the weekend their true emotions. Let’s start with what matters most, speed.

The kids are quick and the move to Gen3 Camaros and Mustangs has further aided their competitiveness.

As Neil Crompton pointed out during an all-time classic ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout on Saturday, the last five drivers on track were all under the age of 30.

Matt Payne, James Golding and Broc Feeney all excelled in their first Bathurst Shootouts. 

Fittingly, all three drivers were coached through the session by young engineers too, all calling the shots in their first Bathurst shootouts as well.

Together, they set the stage perfectly for the lap that topped off the day.

Brodie Kostecki smashed the field to the tune of half a second, taking his first Repco Bathurst 1000 pole.

Kostecki tames the Mountain to score first Bathurst pole

His lap was highlighted by a courageous middle sector across the top of the Mountain after the setting sun caused him to lose time at the exit of Hell Corner.

But bravery isn’t just about wrestling a car all the way to the metal grate — it can also be about showing vulnerability in front of a massive TV audience. 

Broc Feeney did both on the weekend and the fan reaction has been immense. 

The soon-to-be 21-year-old gained a new army of supporters for his honest and heart-wrenching interview, just moments after mechanical failure denied him a chance to chase down his teammate for victory.

It showed a great deal of maturity in merely agreeing to the interview and the words that followed captured the sympathy of viewers who could feel his anguish.

Red Bull Ampol Racing will be a fascinating subtext from 2024 onwards. The biggest force in pit lane with two of the youngest, hottest prospects in the sport. That alone is worth tuning in for.

Outside of the drivers already fighting for championships and enduro wins sits another group of future stars waiting in the wings — young guns who have impressed in the junior categories and look to have the speed and flair to make it in the big time.

Emotional Feeney gutted by late failure

Here, you’ll find kids like Ryan Wood, Kai Allen, Zak Best, Aaron Love and Cooper Murray. All race winners in the Dunlop Series this year. All aggressive and hungry.

The performances they displayed at Mount Panorama on the weekend were impressive in their own right. Willing to push to the extreme limit and at times over the limit in order to capture the attention of fans and team bosses alike.

In another decade, these names will be etched into the record books as Bathurst winners and Supercars champions. You can guarantee it.

They will bring their own flavour and style and command a new army of fans with their on-track ability and off-track personality.

Remarkably, the pool of young talent doesn’t stop there. 

If you caught the incredible final race of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia 86 Series on Sunday morning, you would have seen a sneak peak into the next wave, some as young as teenagers.

Best false start, Vaughan stall headline dramatic start

It was only seven short years ago that Will Brown was racing Cameron Hill for victory in this series, so maybe we’ll see those young drivers fighting for the Peter Brock Trophy in 2030.

For now we can be excited about the immediate future.

The finish to the 2023 season is shaping up to be a classic. An age-old battle of youth versus experience.

One driver hoping to cap off his Supercars legacy with a fourth championship, against a young driver looking to start his own legacy with his first.

This is just the beginning of the Gen3 era, and it is set to be unforgettable.

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