Roland’s View: Tassie Wrap Up

Erebus showed why it’s leading both Championship points tables with its performance at Symmons Plains. Image: InSyde Media

Watching Supercars last weekend from the comfort and warmth of Queensland, it looked like there was a very good crowd, some good racing and the sun was shining!

I gather it was bloody cold though, so taking it all in from the couch seemed like an excellent choice.

The cars looked and sounded great. There was plenty of robust driving but nothing overtly silly. And no Safety Cars meant that the racing was pure.

All this of course continues to be overshadowed by the P-word, unfortunately, judging by a few comments made over the weekend and the noises off stage.

But when I look at the results over the first four events, with 12 races complete, the real standout fact is that there are only two teams who have had any consistency at all. That’s Erebus and Triple Eight. And Erebus has clearly done, to date, the best job. All credit to them and their drivers.

For me, it’s not so much a question of the Chevrolet domination of the podium places available to date, it’s the fact that, apart from the two teams mentioned above, no other team, Ford or Chevy, has mounted anything like a consistent challenge.

Moreover, even within teams no stability has emerged with one car often having one great race and then disappearing in the next one.

Mostert is third in the Championship currently, but his teammate is 24th. Likewise, Waters is sixth and his closest teammate is 19th. The same goes for BJR and MSR – it’s not just Ford teams.

Given the rather odd circumstances of the AGP races, with the strange tyre rules and the weather, let’s take a look at the results from Perth and Symmons Plains.

Six races across the two weekends, and if we exclude Erebus and Triple Eight from the results, we can see that there would have been four Ford wins (2 x Reynolds, 1 x Courtney and 1 x Waters) and two Chevrolet wins (Heimgartner and Le Brocq).

The simple fact is that two teams, with four great drivers all doing an excellent job, have so far made everyone else look silly. They just both happen to run Chevrolets.

In particular, again over those last two weekends, Erebus has not only been fast but has been amazingly consistent. Triple Eight has had great race pace but simply hasn’t qualified as consistently as it should do. That race pace, though, has ensured that, with the exception of Race 1 in Newcastle, the race wins have been spread exclusively between these two teams.

If there really is a measurable parity issue, then why is there such a big gap between so many team-mates?

I’ll tell you why. These cars are closer than ever to each other in terms of specification. They are more closely regulated than ever before. This places ever more emphasis on two things: the tiny details and the drivers themselves.

Are all drivers equally capable? They are not, and some will adapt faster and better to these new cars than others. First and foremost, Supercars is a driver’s championship, so if you’re not up to it then you’re not going to win. With ever more emphasis on the driver rather than the car, the value of the best ones is only going north.

What’s that I hear the communists saying? Salary cap needed … Isn’t it amusing how some of the folk who mention this every so often are themselves very happy with a system of free enterprise in their own worlds?

Meanwhile the teams that have the best grasp of those tiny details that can still make a difference will also rise above the others. Motor racing is, and should be, a meritocracy, otherwise why have championships?

In time, some of the drivers that are currently inconsistent will no doubt get their heads around not only extracting the maximum speed from the Gen3 cars, but also understanding how to manage the tyre life over any given stint. It’s patently obvious that this, in particular, is a strength of Feeney, van Gisbergen, Kostecki and Brown.

Scott McLaughlin was recently asked if he could win in a Gen3 Mustang. He answered “Yes”. I’ve no doubt that he could.

I gather that most teams will be using their second test day before the trip to Darwin. There’s little doubt that this will give the teams the opportunity to work on set-up and driver performance and, given how new the cars are to everyone, this could well provide a reset in Hidden Valley.

In particular, where are DJR? Four top six finishes to date this season are simply not a reflection of the talent of the drivers or the team. To their credit, I hear very little from them publicly about parity. They know full well that, unless they are the fastest Ford on any given day then they shouldn’t be complaining about anything. That was always my philosophy over the years – if Triple Eight was being beaten by another Holden team, then head down, bum up and get pedaling.

They’re my tip for a resurgence of form in the Top End. And I’ll add Reynolds to that. He’s never been slow up there.

Mind you, the cars will be extremely hot in Darwin so I hope Supercars has done everything it can to negate the effect of the heat on the drivers.  Get it wrong and this could well have the biggest impact on race results.

Read the previous Roland’s View here.

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