The Supercars 2020 season is gearing up to see one of the biggest wholesale changes across the grid. This comes after the game of musical chairs being played at the close of 2019.
Many teams are retaining the same drivers. However, some are losing long-time combatants or even their entire squad as they move into the new season. This is due to teams having to deal with rule changes as well as personnel shuffles at the end of last year.
As well as being a tough time for those already in the main game, some of Super2’s finest drivers are trying to buy their way up to the top tier series. This shows why Supercars is known as the most competitive touring car category in the world.
DJR Team Penske
Everything remains the same for the Stapylton squad. They are retaining both two-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin and fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard into the Supercars 2020 season. The pair will be driving alongside each other for a fourth year after McLaughlin joined the team in 2017.
The back end of 2019 was tough campaign for Coulthard with a finish of fourth in the championship. Changes to the cars in 2020 will hopefully pull him back up towards the front of the field, looking to challenge McLaughlin in the title race.
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Sticking together for a fifth consecutive season, the boys from Banyo see no reason to change their successful line-up.
Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have eight championships between them (seven for J-Dub, one for Giz). Triple Eight have eight team’s championships from the last ten seasons. It’s easy to see why continuity is a big part of their success.
After losing long-time Ford man Mark Winterbottom at the end of 2018, Tickford is in for another big change this season after Chaz Mostert’s departure.
The 2014 Bathurst champion was initially signed to the team in 2011. He has been driving in the main game with Tickford since 2014 and every subsequent season. Though friendly fire with team-mate Cam Waters plagued his 2019, Mostert will be missed at the Melbourne outfit.
Waters stays on this year with Lee Holdsworth announcing a multi-year deal in the lead up to last year’s Newcastle 500. Tickford will be backed by new sponsor Truck Assist who follow Jack Le Brocq from Tekno Autosports. Will Davison will still occupy the 23Red Racing car which operates in conjunction with Tickford.
Finally realising that consistency is key, Erebus will hold the same driver line-up for a third season running. Enlisting the services of David Reynolds in 2016, rookie Anton de Pasquale joined the fold in 2018. De Pasquale has pushed Reynolds since his debut year while learning from his experienced team-mate.
The combination has worked well and was fighting as the top Holden team early on in the 2019 season. The two-car operation will be wanting to find that form again during the Supercars 2020 season.
Walkinshaw Andretti United
For the first time since the team’s inception as the Holden Racing Team in the early 1990’s, Walkinshaw will field an all-new driver line-up for 2020. This is surprising as the team have always retained at least one driver from the previous year throughout the V8 formula. James Courtney and Scott Pye both departed at the end of the 2019 season.
Courtney joined WAU (then HRT) in 2011 as defending series champion with DJR though a second title has remained elusive. Pye too joined after driving for DJR, coming aboard in 2017 and scoring two Bathurst podiums with Warren Luff as well as his debut Supercars win at Albert Park in 2018.
Chaz Mostert will slot into the Clayton side after being a Ford man through his whole Supercars career. The second seat is still up for grabs and is set to be hotly contested between Super2 combatants Bryce Fullwood and Will Brown.
Brad Jones Racing
Albury’s own BJR is expanding in 2020, jumping up to four cars rather than the previous three. This will now allow them to operate two pit booms independent of anyone else.
Two of the four drivers will remain the same heading into the new season. Nick Percat will be looking to get back to the podium while Macaulay Jones, son of Brad, enters his second year in the main game.
Todd Hazelwood will move to Albury to join the team in his third Supercars season. Hazelwood will be replacing the outgoing Tim Slade, who took the team’s most recent wins at Winton in 2016. Occupying the new fourth car will be Jack Smith who has competed with BJR as a Super2 and wildcard driver throughout 2019.
Kelly Racing is one of the few teams to scale back their operations for the Supercars 2020 season. They will say farewell to their Nissan Altima Supercars which debuted at the start of the “Car of the Future” regulations in 2013.
After running as a four-car operation since 2013, the team will go back to just two entries this year. Driving the Ford Mustang will be Andre Heimgartner, confirmed as one of the two drivers. The Kiwi was able to secure a maiden podium last year at Phillip Island and has consistently punched above his weight.
Team owner and 2006 series champion Rick Kelly will likely drive alongside him. 2016 Super2 champion Garry Jacobson departs the team for Matt Stone Racing after one season. Simona De Silvestro left Supercars as a full-time driver after the Newcastle 500. De Silvestro made her solo debut in 2017, putting in a best finish of seventh at Pukekohe last year.
Garry Rogers Motorsport
The Supercars grid will be worse off in 2020 without the presence of Garry Rogers and his ever-popular squad.
After fighting in the championship for 26 years, Rogers announced late last year that the team will not be around in the Supercars 2020 season. Rogers cited running costs among other things as a major factor to their departure.
In GRM, fans had a “Switzerland” choice which seemed neutral for the Holden and Ford fans. Especially when the team campaigned Volvo S60’s from 2014-2016, doing more for the marque in Australia than anyone else ever could.
From winning the 2000 Bathurst 1000 to giving some of the stars of the category their first drivers, GRM will be remembered as one of the true battler teams on the grid.
One of the benefactors of other teams falling by the wayside or downsizing is Team 18. Charlie Schwerkolt’s single-car squad has been operating independently since 2016.
With Mark Winterbottom joining the team in 2019, he was able to give them their first pole position at Symmons Plains and a best finish of fourth, so far missing out on the elusive podium finish.
Team 18 have acquired a second Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) from Kelly Racing and another Triple Eight built Holden Commodore. They will enlist the services of Scott Pye next season to move them towards the front of the field. Though the team is relatively small, they’re hoping that a move to two cars will be fruitful over the Supercars 2020 season.
Matt Stone Racing
The second-generation team, run by the son of Jimmy Stone of Stone Brothers Racing fame, has ensured their spot on the 2020 grid by buying a REC from Kelly Racing.
MSR moved up to the mian game in 2017 after they won the Super2 title with Todd Hazelwood, leasing a REC from Jason Bright.
With the time on the lease now up, the purchase of Kelly Racing’s second REC and one from GRM means they’ll run two cars. One car with former Kelly Racing driver Garry Jacobson and the other being shared by Super2 graduates Zane Goddard and Jake Kostecki.
The shared car, names the SuperLites entry, will see the two drivers compete in the Enduro Cup together, driving in five sprint events each over the season.
Perhaps undergoing the biggest physical change this year with a move to Sydney thanks to backing from the NSW state government. Sydney has been without a Supercars team since 2005 when Larkham Motor Sport closed up.
James Courtney has been confirmed as one of the team’s drivers as Tekno pushes to expand to two cars. The team is currently in discussions with GT racer and successful businessman Rod Salmon to run the second car.
Tekno will be hopeful to run the whole operation with as little external influence as possible, however, potentially remaining as a one car team if a deal can’t be done.
Supercars 2020 will be hotly contested
Only three teams will field an identical line-up in the Supercars 2020 season. That’s just at the front line; engineers may follow drivers or could stay where they are, having to get their heads around the new recruits who may as well be speaking a different language.
With the big shake-up across the garages, expect next year’s racing to be hotly contested and full of unexpected results.
Supercars 2020 kicks off at the Superloop Adelaide 500 on February 20-23.