Power Rankings Mark WalkerMark Walker February 23, 2021 (Comments off) (37)

Power Rankings Talking Points for 2021

Confession time – we love piecing together our patented Power Rankings powered by Yellow Cover, and we’re fired up to go again in 2021!

There are plenty of prospects to keep an eye out for this year, and to kick things off, we’ve compiled some of the key storylines that are set to play out...


Scott McLaughlin: Big race boots to fill

Supercars

Who will be King?

Heading into the past three seasons, there has been a clear cut favourite for the title: Scott McLaughlin.

As the champ has jetted off to chase the Indycar dream, there is no single chosen one as a clear favourite to step up.

Red Bull Ampol Racing were at times inconsistent by their lofty standards last year, although Shane Van Gisbergen’s Bathurst 1000 success places him in good stead.

While the GOAT announced during the off-season he is heading off to pasture, he still has plenty of fight left – he won four races in 2020, and should have finished second in the standings if it wasn’t for his Mount Panorama faux pas.

The Captain may have left the building, but DJR is seemingly steady behind the scenes, and in Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison they have two fast and eager drivers behind the wheel.

Cam Waters snuck under the radar to claim second in the standings last year, while Chaz Mostert will be a dark horse.

While having equal number one drivers is a strong suit of teams seeking the team’s title, like Triple Eight, it can work against the quest for the pilots seeking personal glory in the driver’s title.

Last year, McLaughlin won the title early, although he only had his teammate Fabian Coulthard take points off him on three occasions up to that stage.

If Waters continues to be the number one pick from the Tickford camp, could this work in his favour?


Waters was slippery at the end of 2020

Is Continuity key?

So much of the success in elite motorsport is about having the right people in the right places, and making the relationships work.

Out of the genuine Championship hopefuls, many of the combinations are fresh for 2021.

De Pasquale and Davison have landed at DJR, while Triple Eight have shuffled the engineering ranks following Grant McPherson’s departure.

If you are looking for some continuity, Waters is running a steady ship (and finished last season with a wet sail), while Mostert will be seeking improvement in his sophomore Holden campaign.


Whincup hogged up the wins in 2012 with three other drivers.

The Lame Duck Season

Next year the long awaiting Gen3 rules and regulations are slated to make a belated appearance, a topic that will no doubt be prominent this season.

How much attention and effort will go towards gluing together the rigs of the future?

In 2017, with the development in the background of the ZB Commodore and V6 engine ongoing, Triple Eight managed to claim their most recent driver’s title with Whincup.

Previous to that, and the introduction of the COTF, all of the races of the 2012 season were exclusively won by Triple Eight and Ford Performance Racing, even though those squads were the driving forces behind their respective next-generation packages.

Although that season was a lockout, 2013 was wide open: eight different squads took to the top step of the podium in the first year with the new platform.

Will history repeat, with DJR and Triple Eight continuing to flex their muscle without being stretched thin?


The Pecking Order

The author once had a driver tell him that they hated being parked at “the stupid end of pit lane.”

The garage order is a constant reminder of how good, or bad, your outfit performed the year previous.

If you want to know the 2021 Garage order, click here and check out our shed-by-shed preview of the year ahead.

Behind the powerhouse trio of DJR/Triple Eight/Tickford, the battle last year was on in earnest, with little to split between many teams, who each on merit registered multiple podium finishes throughout.

Last year’s mid-field battle was determined in the favour of Erebus over Team 18, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Brad Jones Racing and the Kellys – how this will unfold this season is going be fascinating.


New Combo Match Ups

Who will come out on top at DJR?

Davison has 19 wins under his belt, has a best championship finish to date of second, and last year in his limited solo campaign was right at the pointy end of the field.

De Pasquale meanwhile is the Supercars version of sliced bread, he broke through for a solo win last year, and this time around will be behind the wheel of a truly A-grade kit for the first time.

Elsewhere, the revolving door at Erebus Motorsport has finished turning, with Barry Ryan the one main participant who hasn’t been spun out.

Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki are no doubt fast, and both come from successful backgrounds – between them, they will be out to claim supremacy in the Rookie of the Year title race.

That squad’s overall competitiveness compared to 2020 will no doubt be a talking point throughout.

Elsewhere, another tasty new pairing is David Reynolds alongside Andre Heimgartner at Kelly Grove Racing – we will find out exactly how good the Kiwi is when compared to a recent Bathurst champ.


Commercial Considerations

When the pandemic shut down the world and Milwaukee bailed, many thought that it was the start of an avalanche.

You never truly know looking at the cars on the grid if they are actually all sponsored to full market value, but going by outward appearances, there isn’t much spare real estate on many of the cars.

Three entries appear to have a rotating roster of sponsors at this stage – how this pans out for those squads will be interesting, as many corners of the economy are still far from flying.

Oh, and can we please all agree to call Macauley Jones’s car the Coke Machine? Thank you.


The category that morphed into Super2 back in 2013.

The Undercard

Super2 Comeback?

The 2020 season was a scary one for the Super2 competition, with slipping grids seeing Super3 receive their title back, and tacked onto a combined grid.

The blended field continues this year, although there has been a surge in competitor numbers.

At Bathurst last year, 11 Super2 cars fronted the starter, and even though three drivers have graduated, there is an expectation that 15-16 of the older model cars will compete this year.


Broc Feeney

Tabbed as the chosen one to replace Jamie Whincup in the most coveted open seat in the sport, all eyes will be on the youngster.

The expectation of Red Bull Ampol Racing drivers in the big league is to go out there and dong the field, but first, he is going to have to put himself in another class ahead of the Super2 competition.

Making his job slightly easier will be the graduating/ elsewhere front runners from 2020 in Thomas Randle, Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown, and the fact he has some ace equipment and people behind him.

No pressure…


Big and bold, now with rumble and roar.

SuperUtes: Fry or Fizzle?

The SuperUtes were put on hiatus last season for retooling, and are set to re-emerge this year with V8 power under the bonnet.

Will it win over the fans, or will shenanigans ensue, albeit sans diesel smoke clouds?


Peace in Our Time?

As it stands, ARG properties will race three times as a standalone class at Supercars events: Touring Car Masters at Bathurst, S5000 at Sandown, and GTs at The Bend.

The S5000 appearance is a big win-win for that event, but will there be more of it in the future?

The ARG has assembled quite an array of categories, with their self-promoted events and the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships offering an attractive proposition for competitors and keen race fans.

Outside of Super2/3 and SuperUtes, the heavy lifting on the undercard will be provided by the Carrera Cup, Toyota 86s and Aussie Racing Cars, while the Australian Prototype Series is down to join the program at Winton.

Will we see a return of the Stadium Super Trucks?

Expect some local ring-ins to pad out the program along the tour.


There are lofty expectations of TV ratings in 2021.

Elsewhere

TV Time

As you would be aware, we are keen followers of the TV ratings here at The Race Torque, so we can’t wait for them to drop next Monday for Channel 7’s eagerly anticipated return to the sport.

Keep in mind, Kayo will be showing the event free of charge as well, it sets up an interesting year, especially after Channel 10 rolled the arm over to an extent last year on their way out the door.


AGP

While the world is slowly reigning in the pandemic, at this time, there still has to be questions asked about the chances of the Formula 1 travelling circus making its way Downunder.

As much as we all want to see the Grand Prix happen, the fact is, motorsport cannot allow itself to be the pastime that undoes all of the good work done by the community to date.

From a Supercars perspective, the GP has already been replaced by Sandown, so if Albert Park were to rise from the ashes, questions would have to be asked if another round would make way for it.


Crowds at a race track: a novel concept.

The COVID of Things

Remember last year how the Grand Prix was canned with the drivers sitting in their cars? How about the mad dash across the Victorian border? What about the farce trying to get into the Northern Territory?

While all of those things at the time were akin to the end of the world, the reality was, that life went on, and we went racing the best we could.

Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully with each mistake made in hotel quarantine, there are corresponding lessons learned, and with the roll-out of vaccines, with any luck, we can return to some level of normality.


What We Want to Hot

1. Fans being back trackside

2. Some great racing to send out Holden vs Ford

3. A level of certainty with the calendar

4. Growth in TV numbers

5. Ryan Story on Twitter

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