Q&A: What Larko is looking out for in 2024

23 Feb
Supercars.com asked Larko what he expects in this year’s Repco Supercars Championship — and he didn’t disappoint

Mark ‘Larko’ Larkham is one of the most respected voices in Australian motorsport, with over 30 years’ experience as a racer, team owner and commentator.

So, Supercars.com asked him what he expects in this year’s Repco Supercars Championship — and he didn’t disappoint.

Who will win the championship?

ML: I really can’t pick it. Let’s go back through the last 30 years, and there was always a Skaife, a Lowndes, an Ambrose, a Whincup, a McLaughlin, a van Gisbergen. In most instances, there's always been one or two that are absolutely red hot favourites to be right there in the championship.

This is the first time, particularly in the absence of McLaughlin and van Gisbergen, that we don’t have a firm favourite. You’ve only got to look at the amount of silverware that those two guys shared between them, then remove that — and you have an incredible battle.

It's so hard to say who's gonna win the championship, so to start, let’s have a look at who could win the odd race. There’s a whole bunch of 'em. I mean. Feeney, Brown, Mostert, Waters, De Pasquale, Davison, Payne, Reynolds, Winterbottom, Randle, Stanaway, Heimgartner, all come to mind. Right there, that’s 12 guys.

In a championship fight, you’ve got to narrow it down at some point. For me, I believe the championship is going be fought between Feeney, Brown, Mostert, and Waters. Let’s talk about these guys.

The Broc Feeney factor

feeney darwin win 2023

ML: Feeney is my favourite, but I don't think by any stretch that someone will go out, blaze ahead and lead the championship all year. I think it's going to be much, much tougher than that.

What I like about Feeney is his maturity. He demonstrated during 2023, and we also saw a big dose of it when he won the Adelaide race at the end of 2022. He is like Max Verstappen — he has shown that at a really young age, that you can show enormous maturity. He’s impressed the hell out of me. That particular race at Adelaide, when he was under so much pressure, he didn't crack. That did it for me. He's a future champion.

In my role in pit lane, I'm very fortunate I get to see everything closely. I watch him engage with his engineering group. I get to see how he releases the clutch after a pit stop on a full tank of fuel on cold tyres. I get to see his practice starts. They’re the one-percenters that make someone a complete package, which he is at a young age.

Can Will Brown take it to Feeney?

brown shakedown 2024

ML: Broc gonna be hard to beat. But it won’t be easy, because one of his biggest threats is gonna be right across the garage from him.

I'm gonna watch the intra-team Triple Eight battle with real fascination. It’s going to be a real fight for supremacy within that team. The reality is, in every team, the first guy you have to beat is your teammate. Broc will be acutely aware that Will is coming into his world.

For both of them, it's their time to shine. Will knows this is a great opportunity, but that that fight for momentum across the garage is a really important one. Key for Will is his engineer, Andrew Edwards. Andrew is a wonderful guy, a wonderful people person. He articulates beautifully with his driver, and I think he's gonna be a real asset to Will.

At times last year, you could actually see the vibe in the team — through the body language of the engineering group when the drivers get outta the car — that Broc was really starting to come into his own, and out of Shane’s shadow.

I think it's going to be a wonderful battle. Forget all the nice images of them cuddling up and loving each other. All the matey stuff is real, but I tell you that internally, that's gonna be a really strong contest. That team is geared really well to manage that, which is good news.

The blue brigade

waters randle car adelaide 2023 win

ML: Now Ford has its ducks in a row, I’m really keen to see what Cam and Chaz can do.

Cam is absolutely 100 percent a championship contender. Midway through last year I saw the glint go out of his eye. I can’t wait to see him sink his teeth into this year.

If Cam and Tickford keep their focus across all 24 races, he will be very hard to beat. At the end of last year, he really came into his own.

Then, there’s Chaz. What a driver. I think of him like a Garth Tander or a Fernando Alonso — they are guys that are as talented as anyone, but sometimes the stars just don't align in their career to deliver much more. Chaz is clearly as gifted and capable of delivering a championship as anyone out there.


If Cam and Chaz have the right tools, they will be a handful for their rivals. A big one for Chaz is having Carl Faux as Team Principal. Carl’s a racer, and that alone is a big step. I believe that will have a big impact down at WAU.

The competitive landscape

payne celebrate adelaide 2023

ML: With parity resolved, so many drivers and teams are well and truly in the game. It's so difficult to leave out others. Look at what Matt Payne did in Adelaide at the end of last year. It was staggering, and he was utterly brilliant in that race. There's a great demeanour and attitude in Penrite Racing, which I really like.

Davey Reynolds has got a heap of mojo back. Davey is so sensitive to his mojo — he’d be the first to tell you that if he's not happy in his environment for whatever reason, or something's not clicking, he won’t get results. You can feel there’s a big spark there, and that was proven at the end of the last year.

Richie Stanaway could also surprise. This is Stanaway 2.0. Look how good politicians are when they leave government and come back later — they come back see things from a different perspective, and they’re flying. He is a very gifted individual. I watched him a lot in his early career in Europe. Hee looks fit, focussed, and happy. He has real potential to be dangerous.

The next generation

EV01-24-MH1 0943-Edit

ML: I'm always excited when new names come though. This year, we've got three good young rookies that are there because they deserve to be there. They're there because of talent. They're there because of what they've achieved. They're there because the teams want them to drive their cars as professional race drivers.

I say those things underlined in bold, because Supercars is a career-oriented sport. You've gotta work hard. You've gotta go the long way around. You've gotta learn the craft. You've gotta learn car dynamics, car engineering, communication with an engineer. You've gotta learn so much.

So, when your opportunity comes to step up, you have to be good enough to do it. These guys have done the learning. They haven't bought their way in the back door or any of that other stuff. They're there because they're the real deal.

Now having said that, I want to take all the pressure away from them. The modern era of Supercars is so hard and so close, and so tough, that I don't expect any of these guys to jump in and start banging out podiums anytime soon. All of them would be wise to go out and get some measured results. Bank your top 10s, and build on it.

The future looks incredibly bright. From a talent pool going forward, the sport is in a really good spot.

The cars

mostert pre seaspn test 2024

ML: This is critical as to why I say this year's championship is more open than any time I can remember. A whole bunch of teams are going to come into play. All the Camaro teams will need to be ready for some hotter competition right from the get-go — the Fords are coming.

When it comes to the raging debate, what's happened is a consequence of the really good work that the category's done to make Camaro and Mustang very similar in terms of their technical specification and their performance specification, given that they're two completely different engine architectures.

Here, we have two completely different body shapes — and the fact they could get downforce, drag, horsepower and torque so remarkably close — with the tools that they had — is to me, a job well done.

What was done in the last 12 months would've been more than enough, and way beyond anything we've done in the last 30 years. Now, any micron of difference is now massively magnified.

Last year, with the graphs and the real data, I wanted to take you on a journey and bring you as close to everything as possible. These cars have never been closer in the history of the sport, and there is ongoing work to make them even closer in every single aspect.

I can’t say loud enough and proud enough — irrespective of everything — I am of Supercars, who did a fantastic job with the tools they had to get the cars as close as they did. That's a fact. Even after all the wind tunnel testing that has just been done, it's surprising how close they were to way back when we started, right?

With wind tunnel testing, sensors and transient dyno testing, it's going to the next level.

Catch Larko and the broadcast team when the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship kicks off with the Thrifty Bathurst 500. Tickets for the February 23-25 event are on sale now.

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