Grove predicts Supercars Gen3 data war
By Damion Smy
Saturday 26th November, 2022 - 6:00am
A Supercars Gen3 data war is about to erupt ahead of the first races of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship.
Grove Racing owner Stephen Grove has told Speedcafe.com that the teams who are the fastest at developing data on the new vehicles will be the first to taste success, with four-car teams having a distinct advantage.
The 2023 Supercars calendar was officially announced yesterday, with 12 rounds taking place commencing with the Thrifty Newcastle 500 on March 10-12 as well as the return of the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 enduro into its traditional slot ahead of the Repco Bathurst 1000.
The Newcastle opener will be the first Supercars round for the Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.
“It’s a massive opportunity,” Grove told Speedcafe.com. “I think it’ll definitely close the field. It will come down to just making sure it’s right – with the cars being so close, you have to be on it straight away. You can’t be a little bit out on anything because the field will just swamp you.
In 2021, the Groves bought the Braeside-based Kelly Racing Team from brothers Todd and Rick Kelly, the former recently working on a class-winning Ford Ranger Raptor for the 2022 BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000.
This season saw the team recruit 2021 Bathurst winner Lee Holdsworth to drive along David Reynolds, but significantly the long-term strengthening of its organisational and technical arsenal, firstly through the recruitment of Team Principal David Cauchi at from Triple Eight, and most recently Grant McPherson from Walkinshaw Andretti United.
The revitalised organisation will also see a young Matt Payne replace the retiring Holdsworth in the second entry in the switch the Gen3 next year.
With no data from previous seasons as the Gen3 field arrives at each circuit, Grove says the playing field has been somewhat levelled.
“It’s who can really get the data quickly and get on with it. The four-car teams will have more of an advantage – that’s just fact – than a two- or one-car team because they’ll be getting four sets of data through from first practice, second practice and all the way through.
“So on a race weekend, you’ve got to really try and get the car come out of the truck pretty well in its window … you don’t have any data on the car on that track, and if you’re on the back foot a bit you’re sort of pushed towards the back I would think.
“We’ll come from a little way back I would think for the first half of the season because the two homologation teams – who’ve have done a great job – have obviously been working on the cars; there’s little things they’ll pick up in the journey.
“So I think those teams will have a bit of a head start on the rest of us, but there’s an opportunity to push – and there’ll be little things you can tune – at this stage my understanding is you won’t be able to tune up as much as you can a Gen2 car.”
“The challenge for us is to just make sure we analyse it, and we get the simulation right, and we’re able to make the adjustments on the run. It’ll come back from a driver perspective on the drivers who can give out the best feedback – feedback’s going to be everything on the new car.