Power Rankings: Newcastle
LET US not muck around. Newcastle was big. These Power Rankings are bigger. Here’s the HOT, WHAT and NOT from the Supercars opener… warts and all.
ABOUT THE RANKINGS: The TRT Power Rankings are compiled by your nominations from social media and edited by the TRT editorial team. They’re designed to give a balanced, as fair as possible critical overview of those things that excelled and those things that struggled, at each event. It’s (mostly) a democracy, and what you nominate generates the order, so have your say next event via our social media channels, @theracetorque on Facebook, Twitter and Insta. Look for the call out each evening and get commenting!
WHAT an event. The crowd was massive and festive, and the facility was superb, with several layout and access improvements made since our last visit in the previous decade. This place is every bit as spectacular as the Gold Coast and every bit as atmospheric as Adelaide in terms of vibe – only enhanced when the big ships pass by or the RAAF operates out of nearby Williamtown. Some locals may not like it, but this is as good an advert for a city as any street circuit in the world right now.
Speaking of, Newcastle continues to regenerate and is a genuinely good place to visit. Most things are within walking distance, there are good pubs and lots of things to see and do.
THE Rankings Panel agreed that we would put this in HOT based on aesthetics alone before the cars even turned a wheel, as Repco’s social media accounts identified.
If the racing turns out to be rubbish at The Bend or Wanneroo, then we’ll vote otherwise, in the meantime, the weekend was a success.
As well as looking good, the competition was tight, and Sunday offered the first proper glimpses that the racing would be good, if not a clear idea of how it would play out. But right now, they’re loud, visceral, exciting to watch trackside and look hot. The rest we’ll judge later when we have a better sample size.
Oh, and how many predicted that the finishing rate would be as good as it was? If you said 24/25 cars would finish race one after such a compressed build-up, you’re either Nostradamus or a bit of a fibber…
Questions remain – there’s no getting around that – with the crushability and reparability of the cars yet to be really tested, and the racing quality really still an unknown. Plus driver cooling for some teams is (obviously) an issue. Newcastle is pretty unique and small sample size so time will tell here, but a positive start and better than many expected.
3. Saturday Shootout
THE tightest Top 10 Shootout ever was utterly compelling. They work on street tracks, Shootouts, and this was further evidence. Awesome.
4. Chaz Mostert
A PAIR of seconds and leading the championship. WAU’s teal side of the garage launched strongly. Question marks remain – they are always pretty good at street tracks – but if this is the start of the Chaz era then that’s fantastic. Chaz, by the way, remains a good media performer. He’s engaging, generally reasonably honest and knows how to play the game. Points there.
5. Cam Waters
TICKFORD had a pretty good weekend and Cam Waters continued to show his class, finishing third on the road on Saturday before inheriting the victory when the Bulls were (pending an appeal, anyway) castrated. Whacking the fence and bending his steering in his pursuit of Mostert on Sunday was a blot on his copybook, but he still salvaged good points and looks like he’s going to be one of the challengers to the throne again this year.
6. Race two finish
DID IT deserve a penalty? Opinions were split though the TRT team, ‘it was inevitable anyway’, and the officials called it a fair bump, play on. Like it or not, bump-and-run or not, the contrasting strategies for the final stint were excellent theatre, and most of all, we are absolutely here for that.
7. Erebus Racing
The Cocamaros (we’re yet to find anything that works as well as Cocadore) were strong all weekend, with Brodie Kostecki especially leading the charge with his excellent pole on Saturday, while Will Brown recovered through the field in both races after not quite getting qualy as right as his teammate. Leading the team’s championship is A. Big. Deal. …and we’re not sure many would have predicted this outcome before the weekend. Great stuff.
8. David Reynolds, Penrite Racing
IF PENRITE Racing can deliver Dave Reynolds this car all year, and the driver himself can be consistently at his top, it’s going to be a ripping 2023 for everyone. The sport is better off for having a competitive, happy Reynolds, and that’s what we got on the weekend. His pole lap was epic, and then the way the team bounced back from the electrical dramas pre-race was also impressive.
Perhaps moreso, the missing race pace on Saturday was, for the most part, found on Sunday which lends credence to the fact that Stephen Grove has assembled one of the most talented groups of people behind the scenes in the sport.
Rookie Matt Payne had a solid debut weekend and didn’t turn the thing into a canoe, which is always a bonus for a first-time main-game driver on a rough street track. Big things are ahead here on all counts.
9. Premiair Hire
LIKE PENRITE Racing, they turned around a pretty dour Saturday race performance into genuine contention on Sunday. They qualified well for the first race but went MIA when it came down to the crunch, but Sunday was much better. James Golding, in particular, was inspired on Sunday and very nearly ended up on the podium after starting from position three.
Most improved team year on year? Has to be these guys so far.
10. Andre Heimgartner
FOURTH in the championship, 5th in race one and 7th in race two in a series of very good days for the Kiwi. BJR are searching for one lap pace, it seems, but you know with Andre behind the wheel, the race package he is given will be maximised.
Here because they had to be, really – Triple Eight, Feeney and SVG
LOOK, things went bad but take away the cooling device issue – which was clearly not them running the secret big-block LS Chev for a dose of extra horsepower, or a secret high-downforce rear wing for more grip – and you are left with a Triple Eight that smoked everyone on Saturday. Van Gisbergen was crushing in his domination, while Feeney looked exactly like he did in Adelaide, and that is a genuine contender.
Sunday then proved that with revenge swift and sharp for the Kiwi champion as his team delivered him an alternate strategy that paid off and allowed him to do what he does best, which is to make almost everyone else look slow. Doesn’t override the NOTs, but it would be unfair if we didn’t praise the remarkable performance by this whole squad across both days – even if they only ended up with points from one race, and both days ended in controversy.
We feel terrible that we couldn’t get him in the 10, though JLB did a good enough job of that on his own at the weekend with a series of very strong performances in his MSR Camaro. Smart, well-driven and revelling in finally having gear the equal of everyone else, this was the Jack Le Brocq that his fans are familiar with.
The visuals from the helmet camera were incredible all weekend, as it was in F1 and NASCAR, it’s an excellent addition to the broadcast and adds another layer to the coverage and displaying these athletes at work. Brilliant.
Tom Randle’s cameo
JC had a bit on, so Tom Randle played super-sub during the final Aussie Racing Cars race call on Sunday alongside Matt Naulty and absolutely nailed it. The kid is a star, on track and especially off it. Asset for the sport.
Newcastle TV visuals
The place looks remarkable on TV, and it was captured so with the use of the chopper, and the jib camera up at Turn 2. And the run down the hill. And.. and.. spectacular.
Three top 10s from fourth. Kind of quiet, which they will enjoy, but very solid for both.
Will Brown going for a ride with Cam Waters
The Westpac rescue helicopter charity auction ended with an unlikely winner, but some classic television… Brilliant.
Unstoppable Stevie J
Give the guy a co-drive!
The F35 Flyover
Helps when the air base is a 90-second flight to the north. The RAAF delivered again on Sunday, with the anthem moment timed to perfection.
New podium setup
A change is as good as a holiday, and we like the clear backdrop thing. It’s different, and it worked.
Good on them re-signing for another two years, despite their boss spending much of his time on his Facebook page railing against Supercars. They were great for the GC 500 last year.
FACT CHECK: They did not, in fact, have a car parked outside the front gate of the circuit as
threatened promised to the fans.
Cake and tea in the media centre
THE Newcastle media centre sets the benchmark for the season by a) having excellent catering, which is a rarity, and b) being in an actual Pub.
We gave the livery on the Tradie/Moneyme Mustang a spray in our livery preview because the yellows don’t match. Is Moneyme’s corporate colour actually green?
We call BS on this one.
Freudian Slip or intentional amusing play on words? You decide.
It’s the last time they get Mike Tyson to do the graphics…
1. Shane van Gisbergen (and just about everything around Sunday’s post-race)
FIRST THINGS FIRST. Jess Yates asking Shane to explain the battle with Chaz deserved an answer. It had nothing to do with the Saturday disqualification issue. Shane still won. It was a big moment in the context of the race, a great battle and a fair question.
Subsequently rolling out the same ‘I did all my talking on the track’ thing time and time again in the presser, even when asked about other things, just felt petulant, whatever the circumstance. It was actually a relief when he – briefly – opened up about why he was being like that.
Regardless of how you may feel he is treated by the media, it’s still a vicious cycle, and the more stuff like this that gets offered up by drivers – any drivers – only then causes the media to fire up more. Which then causes the drivers to fire up more. And the beat goes on.
Remember this piece, last year, by TRT Editor Craill, about Motorsport needing to make up its mind about what it wants to be? This is another of those moments where the sport and those in it don’t really seem to know what they actually want. And it goes both ways with SVG’s Sunday stance exposing other issues, as Dave Reynolds discussed quite freely (Check out other reporting by V8 Sleuth, Speedcafe and Motorsport.com on that) regarding his text exchange with Mark Skaife at the same time.
Ultimately, if the drivers don’t like the cars, they should be allowed to say so. If the sport doesn’t like the drivers ragging on the cars, then they should say that too. Let everyone have it out, come up with solutions to whatever problems there may be at either end and then move on.
This kind of stuff just fuels the fire and makes the problem worse.
We’d love to see how the AFL media would handle this. We suspect it would be a lot worse.
Where’s a Motorsport360 show when you need it?
On the flipside, and perhaps this could have gone into HOT, the whole set of events over the weekend should keep the sport in the news cycle for longer – which is great, given the dead space between now and Perth, with the AGP not exactly being a showcase event for the category.
So there’s a positive.
2. Triple Eight Disqualification
WE OFFER this with an asterisk noting that the penalty is under appeal, with a hearing to be heard this week.
Regardless of that, if both your cars are disqualified for a breach of the technical regulations, you’re going to end up in this part of the rankings.
This was and is a massive story especially given how the team had just given everyone else an absolute towelling at the hands of their two Chevrolet Camaros on Saturday.
You can blame ambiguity in the regulations as much as you like, but the fact no one else had the same issues or was penalised for the same reasons was notable. And other teams protesting is one thing, but the fact the DRD nabbed them, too, indicated that there was enough of a clear understanding of the rules and regulations to successfully apply a penalty.
Unlike elements of social media, we don’t believe that a) Triple Eight cheated (what they did was very much out in the open) b) that they run the sport and c) they’re the evil empire.
In a case of Mark Dutton’s word versus that of Adrian Burgess, Mark admitted on TV that he should have received written approval for the modification. The whole ordeal was ultimately an unnecessary misunderstanding.
Citing a lack of time to have the system located in the prescribed location doesn’t really cut it sadly, as the issue was rectified for Sunday morning.
Pending the outcome of the appeal, they were well and truly whacked for it. Who knows if that 150 points lost on Saturday will play a role later in 2023.
Proof that a) the bigger you are, the harder you fall, and b) that even the best make mistakes.
Oh, and c) always get things in writing.
3. Shell V-Power Racing
ON THE upside for Triple Eight, at least they were fast.
DJR was the biggest disappointment of the weekend and worse than being slow, they were totally anonymous.
They also deserve a clip for their handling of the media on Saturday, which was incredibly disappointing, offering a firm ‘We’re not commenting’ when approached by media.
They were slow. Own it. Shutting out the media completely (refer to point No. 1) does nothing to help.
Who knows… Newcastle could have been an anomaly, certainly, it’s hardly the best place to determine the true form guide of the season.
Regardless, the Shell cars are going to have to have a big swing to get back to their form of old heading to the Grand Prix.
4. Tickford Sunday tear up
Expensive and brutal with Courtney’s DNS after making the shootout and then shunting. It was compounded by Declan being turned into the fence before he even got to the start line and Waters clipping the fence while battling for the lead. Swings and roundabouts worked against the Tickford gang on Sunday.
5. Race two start
A long red flag following the big start-line shunt and unfortunate wall damage ultimately forced a time-certain finish, despite Supercars bringing the start time earlier anyway.
6. TV Graphics glitching
IN SUCH a professional presentation, it is noticeable when something is just a little off.
Aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder, so we’re not talking about the look and feel of the new scheme, which mirrors Supercars current IP.
Most early commentary centred on the timing totem, left of screen, which started out with a wobble on Friday when the pitted cars were illegible with white on light grey. Other niggling errors also raised the ire of commenters on TRTs various channels too.
Credit where credit is due, they evolved pretty quickly over the weekend, with several of the main complaints from the social media core addressed by Saturday, and then further on Sunday.
The rest of the coverage was ace – this was just jarring because it was such a surprise.
7. Race one
IT wasn’t bad, per se, it just wasn’t a thriller, was it. The real fireworks occurred afterwards.
8. Nick Percat
HAD a brake-related non-finish on Saturday and then finished 23rd and last on Saturday, while Chaz walked away in the lead of the championship. Rough.
SUPPORTS had a bad run at the weekend. Quality was high in each field but Super2/3 managed only 15 racing laps in total, while the Aussie Racing Cars went full Super2 with their shunting on both Saturday and Sunday. That then had the flow-on effect on delays to the program, which resulted in TCM only getting six laps of racing for their feature, free-to-air TV race on Sunday, which was rough.
Tough weekend to be a support category.
10. Going full Super2
After absolutely not going full Super2 in the first race, Super2 managed to go full Super2 in the second race. No Super3 cars were harmed in this pile-up.
- There were big gaps in the on-track program, and even though the supports were.. troublesome, there could have been another one on the programme to fill some space.
- Recoveries, especially in the supports, were slow. Really, slow. Is it down to the tricky nature of the circuit and access as a result? We’re not sure, but they felt longer than they did in Newcastle circa 2019.
- Tom Randle’s re-join in Race one was the first pit lane penalty of the year and, as such, an auto-not.
Team 18 and Steering, and it happened again on Sunday…
Give ’em the bird
Motorsport: bringing people together
Let’s see what “Synchronized Tugging” does for our SEO…
Everyone will drive Sprintcars next summer…
DJR sure have wheeled out the same livery a few times…
The cafe’ were ultimately right with their Saturday night email.. if 14 hours early.
If Craill goes full Shatner on us, we’re out.