Power Rankings Team TRT December 9, 2023 (Comments off) (323)

Caltex Power Rankings: Supercars Hots & Nots

It has been a big year for the Caltex Power Rankings – here we kick off our end-of-season celebrations with a countdown of the top ten HOTS and NOTS from the Supercars season that was.

To arrive at the below lists, we have simply scored the respective Rankings from the season on a ten-to-one sliding scale, with the number one HOT or NOT each week receiving ten points, and so on.

As always, we thank you, the readers of The Race Torque, for your ongoing input, support and patronage of the Power Rankings, plus Caltex for their backing of the project.


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!


HOTS

1. Brodie Kostecki/Erebus Motorsport

In combination with the Erebus Motorsport crew, Brodie sealed his maiden Supercars title and the somewhat more prestigious Power Rankings crown!

The champ ran away with this year’s HOT’s title, topping the tally at events including Perth, Tasmania and The Bend, and he was well and truly in the conversation at the Sydney SuperNight, Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Adelaide 500, where his high score was awarded on his championship exploits, more so than his in-race performance. Outside of Adelaide, the only other time he didn’t trouble the podium was in Darwin, where he claimed a pair of fourth-place finishes – if you win the championship by maximising your bad days, then this crew absolutely smashed it. Brodie broke into the winner’s column for the first time in his career with a pair of AGP successes, a feat which would have ranked higher had F1 not been included in those Rankings.

From our perspective, we are somewhat relieved that the Power Rankings correlate with reality – the system works!


=2. Shane van Gisbergen

With five race wins for the year, SvG did his talking on the track.

A red-hot start to the season went a bit fluffy in the midparts with a win drought that extended from the first race in WA through to the Sunday in Sydney. However, the most popular driver in the sport scored big with a third Bathurst crown, which was celebrated in his trademark style.

He scored solid rankings points in Townsville, with that event falling a week after his remarkable breakthrough NASCAR win… we feel a lot more antipodeans will be tuning in to stockcar racing next season.


=2. Will Brown

Although he faded in the final standings, Brown was a big part of the Erebus success story in 2023. Wins at Wanneroo, Symmons Plains (twice) and Townsville saw him involved right in the title fight for a significant portion of the year, before the wheels started to fall off at The Bend, with his season ultimately ending with a written-off car on the Saturday in Adelaide. The combo of Brown/Feeney at Red Bull Ampol Racing next year should be fun to watch…


4. Broc Feeney

Speaking of Feeney, he finished third in the standings, and was unlucky in these rankings, falling just two points shy of the SvG/Brown battle for second. Early season, Mr Sunday claimed final-day wins at the AGP, Wanneroo, Symmons Plains and Hidden Valley, with another victory coming in the Sandown 500, earned with the GOAT riding shotgun. Broc’s tougher second half of the year finished with a cherry on top, thanks to a second in the last leg in Adelaide.


5. Qualifying

Qualifying and shootouts this year were ridiculously good. Given that all of the cars in the field are essentially the same, the time margins between the competitors were slim, even if the competitiveness in the races didn’t always meet the grid-setting hype.

Qualifying as a concept scored nods at the AGP, Perth, Symmons Plains, Darwin, SMP and The Bend, with the Shootouts from Newcastle and Adelaide adding to the final score.


6. Racing

A curious one. Although the racing wasn’t necessarily earth-shattering by Supercars standards, the standout races tallied up some big points. Earning gold stars were both of the races on the Gold Coast, Saturday afternoon in Perth, plus the race to the finish in the Sandown 500 and Townsville.

Fingers crossed, this features higher in the count next year…


7. Penrite Racing

After a solid start to the season, a midyear lull was put in the rear vision mirror with a flying finish. Solid form from Sandown onwards saw victories for both drivers at Surfers Paradise and Adelaide.


8. Supports

Across the board, the supporting acts were stars throughout the year. From a mega season from the Carrera Cup and the Sprint Challenge when they stepped up, the GT World Challenge in Perth, to the Superbikes in Darwin, there was plenty of hotness to get around. According to the rankings, and who are we to argue with ourselves, the best single support race show of the year was the Formula Fords in Tasmania, which were entirely out of this world. Fortunately for us, the open-wheelers return to the Apple Isle in 2024 for an encore performance.


9. Cam Waters

Although he slipped to sixth in the final standings, Waters was in the thick of the conversation throughout the year, leading the Tickford squad, typically at the head of the Ford class. After winning the opening race of the season by default, when the Fords came good on the Gold Coast, Waters was the man to beat, registering results of first, third, first and fourth to round out the year. He also picked up Power Rankings points in Tassie and at The Bend.


10. Andre Heimgartner

The little team from Albury that could. BJR finished third in the team’s title, and it was largely down to the deeds of its lead pilot, who claimed seventh in the final standings. All told, Andre logged six podium finishes for the season, and, through sheer consistency, picked up strong Power Rankings nominations at no less than five of the 12 events.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Chaz Mostert may have finished fourth in the standings, but it was achieved via consistency on the circuit, more so than rocking our socks off week in and week out. After a pair of seconds at the season opener and leading the series point score, further podiums followed in Townsville and The Bend.

Elsewhere, Anton De Pasquale’s Townsville victory and Bathurst podium scored well.

From an event perspective, Sydney Motorsport Park under lights ranked highly, ditto the 60th Birthday bash at the Bathurst 1000.

All told, 54 different subjects earned themselves a top-ten HOT nomination throughout the season.


NOTS

=1. Weekend schedules/timetables/programs

Consistently, this shot to the top of the NOT count in 2023. From Supercars being relegated to fourth in the AGP pecking order, to light-on programs at Tasmania and the Gold Coast, a dud Sunday in Sydney, no Saturday sprints at Sandown and more, there was a lot that grabbed our goat. Take, for instance, the concept of “two-day” race meetings, which still saw teams spend a week at some events. In 2022, we NOTted the Darwin schedule, which was complicated by the addition of the Superbikes – this year, they rectified their issues and subsequently earned themselves a HOT.

The lesson is: there is always room for improvement.


=1. Crashing

While some single-car incidents earned stand-alone nominations, broadly speaking, a weekend’s body of pile-ups combined to be a regular Power Rankings NOT. The subject scored highly at the AGP, Tasmania, Darwin, Townsville, The Bend, Gold Coast and Adelaide.


3. Shane van Gisbergen

It’s not that he was a NOT, he finished second in the season standings, but an awful lot of negatives impacted his season. Take, for instance, the controversy in Newcastle, his fencing in Tasmania, car dramas in Darwin, mass headshaking in Townsville after qualifying last and enduring multiple issues, rightly or wrongly being pinged for a bump and run at SMP, and his Adelaide double wipeout. Ugh.

When a pass mark in recent seasons has been nothing short of a victory, the temperamental Gen3 Camaro number 97 didn’t fare well in a season otherwise mired in an overdose of controversy.


4. Parity

It’s a subject that topped the pops in the season headlines, but in the context of the Power Rankings, it was mentioned three times:

– Tasmania, where Chevy had claimed 11 of the first 12 wins, and 30 of the 36 podiums to that point

– Darwin, where one race featured a best-placed Ford in tenth, with the Chevies donging the Blue Oval by over 40sec in a short sprint race

– Bathurst, where Ford wasn’t in the conversation at all on race day

The Gold Coast saw less than a second split the marques after 500km of clean racing, fingers crossed 2024 is more like that.


5. Erebus Motorsport

They won the drivers’ and the team’s titles, so on-track performance wasn’t an issue in the Power Rankings. The team racked up nominations from Perth with the protest on van Gisbergen, Darwin, for a podium-less weekend (which is harsh), and for Barry Ryan’s Sydney Motorsport Park potty mouth on live TV.


6. Dick Johnson Racing

The team’s champion as recently as 2020, 2023 proved to be a character-building year for the Shell V-Power Racing-backed squad. From absolute irrelevance at the season opener to terrible qualifying in Tassie and a difficult one on the GC, the crew will be looking to take advantage of a rejuvenated Mustang package in 2023.


=7. Mustang Fires

It was one of the biggest NOTs from the first half of the year – the fires for Nick Percat, James Courtney at Albert Park, and Cameron Waters, who exploded into a fireball while leading in Darwin. The AGP blazes were somewhat sheltered in the rankings by the full slate of other madness that went on during the F1 weekend, with the Sunday race rolling start a severe black eye for the sport.


=7. Triple Eight Race Engineering

Two nominations earned them points for 2023: the opening weekend double disqualification and the dodgy gear shift mounts at Bathurst, which sidelined two cars and nearly cost car 97 their win. Big misses by the ultimate in pro squads.


=7. Walkinshaw Andretti United

In an otherwise consistent season, this team were heavily NOTted for their qualifying performance in Darwin, and also the Sandown 500, where they forgot to turn up.


=10. Brad Jones Racing

Like WAU, a couple of non-performances were costly. In Perth, from the four cars over three races, there was only one top-ten finish as the wheels literally fell off Jack Smith’s car, then at Bathurst, their cruel luck continued as all four cars found more strife than Jackass, including intra-team biffo, above.


=10. Going Full Super2

Overall, the racing in the Dunlop Series was vastly improved over 2022, however, when it went full Super2, it was every bit as crazy as the days of old. NOT-worthy full Super2 moments came in Newcastle, Perth, Sandown and Adelaide.


=10. Pit Lane Messes

Tim Slade being pushed back into oncoming traffic at Townsville was a thorough lowlight, joined in the NOT-party by other antics in Darwin, SMP and Adelaide.


DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

Processional racing copped a whack in Newcastle and Bathurst, where the main events somewhat failed to live up to expectations.

In other things, David Reynolds picked up solid negative votes when he was fenced at SMP and for his Bend tangle with Broc Feeney, James Courtney’s Tasmania was particularly lamentable, while crap weather at Symmons Plains and early in the Gold Coast and Adelaide weekends featured.

By season’s end, we issued NOTs to 52 different subjects.

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