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Supercars Championship: we rate the class of 2020

By Emma Notarfrancesco, 21 Feb 2020 Motorsport

Supercars 2020 Team Sydney

The stage is set for another thrilling Supercars Championship, with big moves up and down the paddock

Just like that, the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is here again! After a thrilling and sometimes bruising 2019, the field is leaner, lots of drivers are wearing new race suits and the cars are harder to drive, thanks to a raft of technical changes.

Gone are stalwarts like Garry Rogers Motorsport, replaced by new outfits like Team Sydney. Names like James Courtney and Chaz Mostert have changed camps, while a new generation of young and hungry racer is banging down the door.

MORE Why Scott McLaughlin is DEFINITELY going to IndyCar in 2020

They will all, of course, need to climb over the likes of Scott McLaughlin and DJR Team Penske, as well as Red Bull Holden Racing - who, of course, now carry the weight of the world on their shoulders after the stunning news that Holden will leave Australia at the end of 2020.

Let's have a look at the class of 2020, and we'll go through and pick our favourites for this season.

Technical changes to Supercars for 2020

The field continues to move towards cost cutting, and this year, all teams will be required to use the same set of shock absorbers from a central supplier. Known as a 'control' damper, the move is designed to strip tens of thousands of dollars of costs out of the running costs of each car - but there is a downside.

After first practice in Adelaide, drivers up and down the lane are verbally frustrated with the move to control dampers, but it will take teams a couple of rounds to find their feet.

MORE Watch a Supercar get built in three minutes

Both the Ford Mustang and the Holden Commodore have lost some aerodynamic downforce, which will mean that, in conjunction with the new shocks, the cars will be trickier to drive.

Offsetting that is the fact that Supercars will finally give teams greater access to tyres, rather than insisting that they use banks of old tyres that make it hard to set cars up properly.

I’ve been given the task to review the teams before we kick off the season and I’ve also ranked them accordingly in true WhichCar fashion.

 

Team

Red Bull Holden Racing Team

Drivers

Jamie Whincup (88)

Shane Van Gisbergen (97)

Supercars 2020 Red Bull Holden Racing

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

13/13

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team started 2019 behind the eight-ball coming to terms with suspension and aerodynamic tweaks. This year could kick off in similar fashion with further aero changes and the move to controlled dampers.

Having said that, both superstars will be extra motivated by the recent departure of Holden from the Australian market. The aero parity will be an interesting factor here. We may not see it in the opening round and perhaps not even until we reach Tassie but the big question is can the Commodore close that gap in 2020?

Which Driver?

Shane Van Gisbergen

While this might be Jamie’s last year racing and he’ll want to go out on a high, Shane will be even more motivated to not be bridesmaid three years running. He's won one championship... but the racer's racer wants more.

 

Team

Shell V-Power Racing Team

Drivers

Scott McLaughlin (17)

Fabian Coulthard (12)

Supercar 2020 DJR Team Penske

Car

Ford Mustang

WhichCar rating

12/13

The Shell V-Power Racing Team has all the right tools in their transporter for another thrilling season in 2020. As a powerhouse of this sport they blazed through last year in a very quick Ford Mustang, winning the drivers and team championship along with the manufacturers’ championship for Ford. Scotty scored his very first Bathurst 1000 win and in total, they won a record 18 races.

There’s no doubt they’ll have great success again - but what can Fabian Coulthard do this time around? He has the driving capability and has had great results ending the year in Newcastle with a double podium, but he’ got to be frustrated by living in Scott’s shadow.

Perhaps the pressure and talks of young talent stepping into his seat will push him that little bit further this year. 

Which Driver?

Scott McLaughlin

Even with his recent success in the Indy test and therefore, possible distractions for this season, I still think this youngster has it in him to be the fourth driver in history to three-peat. But I don’t think it’ll be as easy as it’s been for him in previous years. Bring on some good old Holden v Ford last lap battles.

 

Team

Penrite Racing

Drivers

David Reynolds (9)

Anton De Pasquale (99)

Supercars 2020

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

11/13

While this team didn’t rack up the race wins last year, they did have some solid results with nine podiums between them landing them a fourth spot overall in the championship. With a decade long contract offered to Reynolds they’ve obviously invested a lot in his racing career and why wouldn’t they; this guy is the real deal.

His teammate is in fine form too especially after collecting a pair of podiums at Phillip Island and the Bend and he was the fastest Holden runner at the recent test. He’ll be pushing hard to get result especially with whispers that he could be next in line for a Triple Eight or Penske seat.

Which Driver?

Dave Reynolds

This guy is my one to watch closely for the 2020 season. With his stellar qualifying results last year really we should have seen him finishing a lot higher than sixth.

 

 

Team

Mobil 1 Appliances Online Racing & Mobil 1 Middy’s Racing

Drivers

Bryce Fulwood (2)

Chaz Mostert (25)

Supercars 2020 WAU

Supercars 2020 WAU

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

10/13

This is the real ultimate clean slate for a team. New name, new drivers and the big winner is the signing one of the best in the field in Chaz Mostert. Zac Brown will be expecting podiums if not wins in 2020 so can these young guys deliver? It’s no secret that WAU had a tumultuous 2019 with below bar results so this year will be the true test. Was it the drivers or was it the cars?

Can this be the fresh start they’ve been looking for? Hopefully, they can get some stability and they certainly have the right recruits to get the job done. Bryce has earned his right for that seat and I look forward to seeing what he’ll do in this team.

Which Driver?

Chaz Mostert

Put this guy behind the wheel of any car and he can drive it. This Bathurst 1000 winner already has a tonne of success just recently clinching a class win at the Daytona 24h. He’s fit and hungry and after making one of the most talked-about moves down the paddock he’ll be driving hard for results.

 

 

Team

Castrol Racing & Ned Racing

Drivers

Andre Heimgartner (7)

Rick Kelly (15)

Image result for kelly racing heimgartner

Image result for rick kelly 2020

Car

Ford Mustang

WhichCar rating

9/13

This team will be fun to watch. The big switch for Kelly to the Mustang is exciting first up and what an effort getting that car to the track in time. I think the big reinvigoration will give Rick a tonne of motivation this year and team morale will be high. Let’s also keep in mind that the Kellys have thrown all their resources at these cars so they could be onto a real winner here.

Which Driver?

Andre Heimgartner

This driver is a gun. He’s just been doing some racing over in New Zealand and prior to the first round any seat time is valuable. He had a positive day in testing and I think we’ll see him up there this season.

 

Team

Irwin Racing & Dewalt Racing 

Drivers

Scott Pye (20)

Mark Winterbottom (18)

Image result for team 18 winterbottom 2020

Image result for scott pye 2020

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

8/13

It’s an exciting time for Irwin Racing and Dewalt Racing with the expansion to a two-car team. They recruited Scott Pye and acquired another ex-Triple Eight Holden. Both Winterbottom and Pye can still drive, that’s one thing for sure. Consistency will be key here with Mark having mixed results in 2019, but there were flashes of genius. It was his first year making the switch from Ford to Holden so now that he’s feeling more comfortable it should be a better season for him.

Which Driver?

Scott Pye

A big move for Scott Pye and one to keep an eye on as he begins a new chapter for this season. He’s got different machinery to work with, but he’s got something to prove so I think he’ll be on a serious mission.

 

Team

Monster Energy & Supercheap Auto Racing

Drivers

Cameron Waters (6)

Jack Le Brocq (55)

Supercars 2020 Tickford

Image result for le brocq 2020

Car

Ford Mustang

WhichCar rating

7/13

Cameron Waters has proved that he has what it takes to be a true title contender in this series but is often hampered by the hardware. Consistency from the team will go a long way but whether Tickford has what it takes is the real question. As for his teammate Le Brocq, who’s had the taste of success in the Super 2 series, I’m expecting to see some top ten results from this guy at his new home.

Which Driver?

Cam Waters

From teen rookie to team leader this guy is fit, focused, has a great work ethic and speed. I have no doubt we’ll see him on the podium this year if the car is right.

 

Team

Milwaukee Racing

Drivers

Will Davison (23)

 

Suopercars 2020 Will DavisonCar

Ford Mustang

WhichCar rating

6/13

Will was super quick in testing and it all sounds pretty positive from his camp. While he came out of it claiming there’s a lot of relearning to do, really everyone is in the same boat. Looking in from the outside he’s Mr Focused and Fit and he’s coming out of the off-season on a real personal high having just married longtime girlfriend, Riana. All in all, I don’t see why we won’t see this guy on the podium this year.

 

Team

Brad Jones Racing

Drivers

Todd Hazelwood (14)

Nick Percat (8)

Supercars 2020

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

5/13

This team is always the underdog but more than capable of results and when you least expect it. BJR has produced some of the best drivers in the field over the years and their current lineup is no exception.

They’re known for nurturing young talent like their newest recruit in Todd Hazelwood. The former Super 2 champion has two years in the main game under his belt and took positive steps last year including three top ten results along with a best of fifth in Pukekohe. Nick Percat will no doubt be a great mentor for the youngster as he heads into his fourth season with the team.

Which Driver?

Nick Percat

After just signing a two-year deal this guy will have extra motivation heading into the season. He finished ninth in the championship last year and will no doubt be pushing hard to get the results. They just need to find a little something extra… pace.

 

 

Team

Matt Stone Racing

Drivers

Garry Jacobson (35)

Jake Kostecki (34)

Zane Goddard (34)

Supercars 2020

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

4/13

MRS takes a step up this year expanding to a two-car program and introducing its Superlite initiative. Rookies Zane Goddard and Jake Kostecki will split the entry having five rounds each, combining for the Pirtek Enduro Cup and then flipping a coin for the finale in Newcastle.

But really, this could be interesting and may cause a bit of tension in the garage. Sharing throughout the year has its positives in that you choose the tracks that work for you, however, when it does come to that final round it could get awkward.

Which Driver?

Garry Jacobson

Garry will be a great mentor for these young guys and the switch from a Nissan to the Commodore will surely be a positive.

 

Team

Truck Assist Racing

Drivers

Lee Holdsworth (5)

Image result for lee holdsworth 2020

Car

Ford Mustang

WhichCar rating

3/13

You’re looking at a bit of a rejuvenated Lee Holdsworth for 2020 with a new team and a second year in a Ford. He ended last season on a high with a podium at the Sandown 500 and with the support of Truck Assist for this season we should hopefully see him feature in the top ten. 

 

 

Team

Team Sydney

Drivers

Chris Pither (22)

James Courtney (19)

Supercars 2020

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

2/13

Let’s start with some positives here. Courtney at least is in his hometown and in a team essentially built around him. He’s a seasoned veteran and is always up for a challenge and indeed a challenge this will be.

There are already a lot of questions surrounding the much-anticipated team after almost not making it to the grid for the first round and with the last-minute signing of 2019 Super 2 Champion, Chris Pither. I’m interested to see where they’ll sit in the pack in 2020.

Which Driver?

James Courtney

After nine years with WAU, Courtney makes the big move, which could really make or break his career. He’s going up against a lot of young talent in the field, but he’s been in the game for a long time now, I’m sure he’ll give it a red-hot crack.

 

Team

Team Cooldrive and SCT Logistics Racing

Drivers

Macauley Jones (3)

Jack Smith (4)

Car

Holden Commodore ZB

WhichCar rating

1/13

BJR is one of two teams running four cars for the season, in order to accommodate youngster Jack Smith. It’s always great to see teams take a bit of a gamble and recruit young, fresh talent. Here are two great drivers with a lot of potential and while they have a big task ahead of them I’m keen to see what they can put on the board for 2020.

Which Driver?

Jack Smith

First joining BJR in 2017, this 20-year-old steps up to the main game. He’s certainly driven after balancing numerous commitments last year and I think this youngster has a long driving career ahead of him. 

2020 Supercars

CALENDAR

Adelaide

Adelaide

22 Feb

Adelaide

Adelaide

23 Feb

Melbourne

Melbourne

13 Mar

Melbourne

Melbourne

14 Mar

Melbourne

Melbourne

14 Mar

Melbourne

Melbourne

15 Mar

Symmons Plains

Symmons Plains

4 Apr

Symmons Plains

Symmons Plains

5 Apr

Hampton Downs

Hampton Downs

25 Apr

Hampton Downs

Hampton Downs

26 Apr

Barbagallo

Barbagallo

16 May

Barbagallo

Barbagallo

17 May

Winton

Winton

6 Jun

Winton

Winton

7 Jun

Townsville

Townsville

27 Jun

Townsville

Townsville

28 Jun

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

18 Jul

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

19 Jul

Sydney

Eastern Creek

29 Aug

Sydney

Eastern Creek

30 Aug

The Bend

The Bend

19 Sep

Bathurst

Mount Panorama

11 Oct

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

31 Oct

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

1 Nov

Sandown

Sandown

21 Nov

Sandown

Sandown

22 Nov

Newcastle

Newcastle

5 Dec

Newcastle

Newcastle

6 Dec