While other touring car series like the BTCC and the WTCR have just completed a race weekend, and the DTM – who does not know if she wants to be a touring car championship or something like Super GT just not with long haul, main thing anything with premium (or something like that) – commuted between collapse and departure until early May, the Australian supercars have already completed a third of their season behind them. Time for an interim conclusion.
Before the current season there were some small rule changes on the technical side. So there is a new engine control (ECU) for this year and with Xtrac a new manufacturer for the transaxle transmission. The most profound change, however, was the prohibition of twin springs in the suspension area. This had a significant impact on the balance of the vehicles. The double springs share a shock absorber almost in an upper and a lower part. For example, the teams were able to increase the preload on the lower, softer spring. When the upper spring, the main spring, now fully rebounded, the lower spring came into play. In short, the double springs make the suspension softer so you can accelerate out of a corner earlier and better, for example, as the car can then "lay down" on the softer springs, which improves traction. I do not know if I've reproduced that intelligibly or one hundred percent correctly, but anyone who wants to explain it all over again (and much better) can watch this video by Mark Larkham. However, since the development of Twin Springs is also very expensive, they are now prohibited from this year and only linear suspensions allowed.
This change presents the teams with new setup challenges, especially since most of the data from the last ten to twelve years has become worthless for most, so they need to start from scratch. But some teams handle it better than others. The Ford teams of DJR-Penske and Tickford Racing for example, have the advantage that the Aero platform of the new Mustang was developed with regard to the prohibition of double springs, which is not the case with the ZB Commodore. Also, teams that switched very late to double feathers, have with the re-conversion fewer problems, such as Brad Jones Racing, Teams like Triple Eight On the other hand, who were among the pioneers of the double feathers, came in a powerful stumble and are still in the recovery phase.
Yes. The ZB aero platform was designed around a car that would use twin springs, which the Mustang designed around a car that uses linear springs. It's just a significant one which has exasperated the performance discrepancy.
– Ryan (@ RyanWalkinshaw) April 6, 2019
And then there would be the, in my opinion, completely exaggerated discussion about the different vehicle focuses. The trigger here was the arrival of the Ford Mustang, which has a much lower center of gravity than the Holden Commodore and the Nissan Altima. One of the main reasons may be the design of the Mustang (two-door). The Body Panels could probably save about 50 kilograms, which could now be accommodated as low as possible by lead weights on the vehicle. Added to this is the exhaust system, which was already used in the Ford Falcon and is significantly heavier than that of the competition. The center of gravity of the vehicle is thus lower, which improves handling, especially when changing direction. This became very clear on the city circuits of Adelaide and Melbourne and last but not least on the Phillip Island Circuit.
Before the second race weekend, there was an adjustment, to which the Nissan was used as a common denominator. As a result, both the Mustang and the Commodore continued to move up in order to achieve the same center of gravity in all three models. The tenor of all teams, however, was that this measure had only relatively small impact and it is actually more concerned with the prohibition of double feathers. And to top it all off, championship leader Scott McLaughlin said during the final race weekend at Phillip Island that the car feels even better than the pre-season test at the same spot.
Currently, even the aerodynamics, which was actually homologated before the season, examined again, which could have the consequence that the vehicles must be changed again before the race in Perth. What I think of such interventions during a season, I've already made several times in our podcasts.
No more weight was added to the Ford. Not a single kg. The weight already existing in the car was higher in the Ford and the Holden in order to bring all three car brands to the same center of gravity. Hope this clears up any confusion for the fans, and a couple of drivers …
– Ryan (@ RyanWalkinshaw) April 6, 2019
Let's leave the rules and the discussions behind us and look at how the individual teams are doing.
Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU): # 2 Scott Pye / # 22 James Courtney
– Walkinshaw Andretti United (@FollowWAU) March 19, 2019
at WAU or Mobile 1 Mega Racing, as they are called in the official team ranking, so far it is running rather slowly. Currently stand James Courtney and Scott Pye ranked 13th and 16th overall, well below expectations of Ryan Walkinshaw, Michael Andretti and Zak Brown. The best result is at least a fifth place by Courtney in Symmons Plains to book, but shows up as last year just too inconsistent. The main reason could also be the ban on the double feathers, which could have caught the team on the wrong foot. With good will you could also exclude the results from Phillip Iceland, where strong wind made the setup work difficult and with two punctures at Courtney also added bad luck. Really "Mega" is not going to be a whole year this year anyway.
Kelly Racing: # 3 Garry Jacobson / # 7 Andre Heimgartner / # 15 Rick Kelly / # 78 Simona de Silvestro
– Kelly Racing (@KellyRacingAus) April 13, 2019
The Kellys had to cope with the retreat of Nissan between the years, but the Altima continue to use. Most recently, the team was able to surprise as Andre Heimgartner a podium place on Phillip Island and Rick Kelly two top ten results, which is already more than I expected from the Kellys this season. Rookie Garry Jacobson and Simona de Silvestro Unfortunately, they are somewhat lower than they are.
All in all, however, 2019 will be a transitional year and it may well be that this will be the case in 2020, as there is still no contact with another manufacturer and therefore only works on the current vehicle. If you change to another manufacturer for the coming season, work on the new car should have started in March / April. But according to Rick Kelly, that's not the case.
Tickford Racing: # 5 Lee Holdsworth / # 6 Cameron Waters / # 55 Chaz Mostert / (# 23 Will Davison)
– Chaz Mostert (@chazmozzie) April 17, 2019
Tickford Racing gave a REC before the season, but picked up 23Red Racing (aka Milwaukee Racing) With Will Davison as a satellite team with the boat. Their season has gone much better than last year. So could Chaz Mostert already achieved a running win, two second places and four fifth places, which currently puts him in third place in the overall standings. In sixth place Will Davisonwho (surprisingly) is still without a podium finish, but still drives a consistently strong season. Cam Waters already has a second and two third places on the account, which is already more than he could reach in the last year. However, he throws back a "zero" from Melbourne, as he before Race 6 on the way to the grid with Scott McLaughlin collided and could not start because of the resulting damage. Rank eleven in the overall standings therefore looks worse than it actually is. newcomer Lee Holdsworthwho came from Team 18, on the other hand, only managed to reach the top ten three times. He probably has to find his way around the new team and the new car. I think he will show up more often during the season.
Brad Jones Racing (BJR): # 8 Nick Percat / # 14 Tim Slade / (# 21 Macauley Jones)
– Freightliner Racing (@ freightlinerv8) April 14, 2019
BJR I'm one of the winners of the season. Nick Percat and (California 8h winner) Tim Slade ranked seventh and eighth in the standings, with Slade finishing third in the best single result of the only New South Wales-based team in third place in Melbourne. Brad Jones sees the main reason in a pleasingly good preparation for the season also with regard to the rule changes mentioned above. The fact that things went so well so early in the season is also the reward of hard work. However, the bar for the rest of the year is now relatively high. Rookie Macauley Jones from the satellite team Tim Blanchard Racing, currently last in the drivers' classification, is probably still in a familiarization phase. Two more violent accidents in Adelaide and Melbourne at the start of the season were certainly not helpful either. So it remains to be seen how his year develops.
Erebus Motorsport: # 9 David Reynolds / # 99 Anton de Pasquale
– Supercars (@supercars) April 14, 2019
Erebus put on a solid start to the season, albeit not quite at the level of the previous year. At the same time you had through in the last season David Reynolds already achieved a race win and two second places, while in this year it was enough for only two third places. Most noteworthy, however, is the current form of Anton de Pasquale, who had a strong weekend on Phillip Island, which he crowned with his first podium place in the Supercars. In general, he seems to have made some progress and could slowly but surely also keep his teammates busy. For Erebus that would only be positive.
DJR Team Penske (DJRTP): # 12 Fabian Coulthard / # 17 Scott McLaughlin
– Fabian Coulthard (@ FabianCoulthard) April 16, 2019
Let us now turn to the league leaders. After the first ten of a total of 30 runs, the reigning champion leads Scott McLaughlin (1058 points) ahead of his teammate and New Zealand compatriot Fabian Coulthard (934) the overall ranking. McLaughlin won seven out of the first ten races alone. There is also a DNS from Melbourne, due to the above-mentioned collision with Waters, a fourth place from Symmons Plains and most recently a second place on Phillip Island. Coulthard did not start quite so well in the season, but took a win and three second places from the last four heats. No one seems right now DJRTP to be able to stop. Tickford Racing With Mostert and also Triple Eight With Shane van Gisbergen, currently on P3 and P4 of the overall standings, already have to stretch quite a bit, so as not to let the DJRTP duo get completely out of reach. In the course of the season, however, team orders could sooner or later become an issue. But you still leave the two kiwis free run.
Charlie Schwerkolt Racing (CSR): # 18 Mark Winterbottom
Happy Easter from #IRWINRacing! ? For everyone heading off on this long weekend, please make sure you stay safe on the roads! ?? Take a break if you are feeling tired, stick to the speed limit, stay away from mobile devices and do not drink and drive. #VASC pic.twitter.com/FKf0Mw0V6J
– IRWIN Racing (@ IRWIN Racing) April 18, 2019
The quasi-customer team of Triple Eight was not only able to win a new main sponsor with IRWIN Tools, but with Mark Winterbottom also commit to one of the best riders in the field. Newly installed, it runs CSR aka IRWIN Racing aka Team 18 Very good: You can already show five top tens and a pole position. On Phillip Island, however, you had to settle for places 21 and 17 after losing a rear wheel at the Saturday race and finding no working set-up on Sunday. A good base has been obtained with the previous course yet.
Tekno Autosport: # 19 Jack Le Brocq
– TEKNO Autosports (@TeknoAutosports) April 14, 2019
Last season was Jack Le Brocq still the best rookie, this year, on the other hand, nothing goes together. In the drivers' classification, he is only third last and currently it does not even seem to be sure that he will still be in the cockpit in Perth. But it is doubtful whether the current form of Tekno is alone on the driver or if there is more behind it.
Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM): # 33 Richie Stanaway / # 34 James Golging
– Boost Mobile Racing (@GR Motorsport) April 14, 2019
The driver question can be with GRM answer much easier. The new sponsor Boost Mobile brought Richie Stanaway with and since you own the house James Golding did not want to go outside the door and / or could, had to be a veteran Garth Tander leave the team. And its departure has hit the team hard. Tander not only helped the team with his experience, he was also able to record top ten results, even after poor qualifying results. On the other hand, Richie Stanaway, on his best days, is only average on the other side of the field and was already negative again in Melbourne when he was disqualified because of dangerous driving. As a reminder: Last year, at that time still in TickfordServices, he drifted in Townsville for some laps around the area, because he was apparently dissatisfied with the tires and the car. Only after several admonitions by his engineer he stopped. In the GRM-Internal rating, it is also 8: 2 after race results for Golding. You do not have to say more.
Matt Stone Racing (MSR): # 35 Todd Hazelwood
Finished P16 after being spun on lap one whilst running 7th and put 20+ seconds off the pack. Awesome race car today. What a awesome, but such a shame as we had on an awesome race car today. pic.twitter.com/AQFdFovf7N
– Todd Hazelwood (@Todd_Hazelwood) April 14, 2019
at MSR seems to have made some progress. Was last year still P13 in Newcastle the best result of the season, could Todd Hazelwood 2019 already take a tenth place from Adelaide. At Phillip Island, the next top ten result was within reach, but this was due to a collision with James Courtney was nullified. The change from the Ford Falcon to the Holden Commodore last year seems to be paying off and it seems to work well between the driver and the team as well. I'm curious what is still achievable this year, the omens are in any case good.
Triple Eight Race Engineering: # 88 Jamie Whincup / # 97 Shane van Gisbergen
– Red Bull Holden (@redbullholden) April 15, 2019
Shane van Gisbergen is the only non-Ford driver to win a race this year. Furthermore, there are still three third places but also a DNF (engine failure in Race 3 in Melbourne) on his account. As already mentioned fighting Triple Eight still with the conversion to the linear suspension, but on Phillip Iceland also added individual errors, as in Jamie Whincup In Race 9 a wheel was not tightened and he left a little later. Triple Eight However, in the past had difficult start to the season, but you could turn the rudder usually over the course of the year. That's why it will be interesting if they can fight back again this year. For the tension in the championship it would be desirable anyway.
– Official Holden Motorsport (@Holden_Msport) April 18, 2019
I think that with this overview you are up to date about the supercars. I'm sorry if I could not go into more detail at one point or another. Time is it for me but unfortunately currently not otherwise feasible.
It continues with the supercars with the Perth SuperNight on the first weekend of May. The start times are likely to be around midday for us Europeans. More details can be found in our TV-planner as usual.