As we enter a new year, our lead reporter will share some of his predictions heading into a long 2018 season of motorsport consisting Supercars, Super2, GT3 racing and much more.
2017 produced a lot of action and controversy but our lead reporter Steven Wright will share his pre-2018 motorsport predictions of the Supercars Championship, Super2 Series, Bathurst 12 Hour, Indianapolis 500, and BNT V8s seasons.
Disclaimer: All predictions in this article are opinions of the editor, not the page.
Scott McLaughlin, 2018 Supercars Champion
Like in 2017, McLaughlin will be super strong in Supercars. He will be challenging for more Armor All Pole Positions and Supercars race wins as he should still have the outright speed advantage held last year, which makes them real favourites. The loss in 2017 will make the Kiwi hungrier to hold that championship trophy in Newcastle come November.
Tickford Racing to join heavyweights for championship battle
The now rebranded Tickford Racing has a super strong driver lineup with rookie Richie Stanaway replacing the aging Jason Bright in car 56. As 2017 showed that Tickford Racing was able to mix it with the two heavyweight teams Triple Eight and Penske. With four very talented drivers onboard the four-car team next year will push the team to new heights and be real championship threats, even though Chaz Mostert was mathematically a contender until the final race.
Richie Stanaway won’t finish top 10 in standings for rookie year
Rookie Richie Stanaway has a lot of hype behind him following his strong race pace and his skills in the wet on debut for Super Black Racing, and a very strong endurance campaign last year with Cam Waters which included a Sandown 500 victory. As he will be rookie, do not expect the Kiwi to make it in the top 10 in the championship standings, as he will need to learn the majority of the Australian circuits.
Lowndes has another winless season
Last year was Craig Lowndes’ first winless season since joining Triple Eight in 2005, with the Autobarn-backed driver being the now oldest driver on the grid will have many critics on his back about retirement. Signing a two-year deal recently for the 2018 and 2019 seasons but can not guarantee that both years will be full-time. Lowndes has admitted he will drop to a co-driver once he stops racing full-time. He was never in the battle for victory all 2017, and that form is likely to continue into 2018.
23Red Racing to score an unlikely race win with new recruit Will Davison
After the buy-in from Phil Munday into the former LD Motorsport squad which transforms into 23Red Racing, and got a top-line driver Will Davison with a very strong Tickford Racing-built FG/X Falcon. With a lot of potential and a driven experienced driver will drive this team into competitive form and I think will snag a victory, most likely in the endurance race at Sandown if they can sign Will Davison’s brother Alex.
Scott Dixon to win his second Indianapolis 500
Kiwi Scott Dixon has been a serious Indy 500 winning contender for the last decade and has won the iconic IndyCar Series race in Indianapolis once in 2008. 10-years later he will repeat the end result which his Honda-powered Chip Ganassi car will be stronger enough to do the job, but he will need to avoid getting involved in wrecks during the 200 lap race.
Erebus Motorsport to challenge Red Bull HRT more often
Erebus has become Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s biggest rival within the Red Lion family, after their star driver David Reynolds has driven the struggling Mercedes AMG team into the second best Holden team since the team made the decision to relocate to Melbourne and change manufacturers at the end of 2015. Since then they have become more competitive and won Bathurst last year. This year I expect them challenging for wins but a few bad rounds will leave them out of the championship battle.
McLaren to give the German manufacturers a hard time at the Bathurst 12 Hour
With the super strong driver lineup that McLaren Melbourne/YNA Autosports will have in Van Gisbergen, Lowndes and European Come Ledogar will put this car as a close favourite for the outright victory. However, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche all have strong lineups.
Liam MacDonald and Chelsea Herbert’s BNT V8s class two battle to come down to the wire
South Island’s Liam MacDonald has gotten to a great start to his class two championship defense, but do not expect that to continue for the rest of the six-round season. As young Chelsea Herbert, who is fresh off his first Touring Car race win, will be hungry to beat the South Islander. This is a battle to watch!
Toyota to win the BNT V8s class one title
As shown in the first two rounds in the BNT V8s that class one leader Jason Bargwanna has won both rounds which sees him as the clear favourite for the title, but his teammate Andre Heimgartner is not far behind him in the championship. It’s fully clear that the Toyota Camry has some advantage over the Altima and Commodores in the category.
Heimgartner to get career-best Supercars solo race result
Kiwi Andre Heimgartner who returns to full-time racing in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship this year, when he replaces Todd Kelly as the #7 Altima driver. Heimgartner will have some pressure to perform as he will have Caruso and Rick Kelly as benchmarks throughout the season. The team needs results early in the year but that would need to come from the experienced ones in the team. However, the Kiwi will snag a top five at Newcastle going from the pace that the Altimas showed at the NSW street circuit last year.
Fullwood to fight Dumbrell in Super2 title; Ford v Holden
Fullwood, who has shifted from MW Motorsport Nissan team to a FGX Falcon at Matt Stone Racing as the team has purchased a 2016-built DJR/Penske Falcon for the Super2 Series. With the speed advantage the car could have, as seen in the hands of Coulthard and McLaughlin in 2017, I see Fullwood being a serious championship contender if the team can get close to a good setup right as practice starts on Fridays.
Hazelwood to challenge Stanaway for rookie of the year honours
Hazelwood and Stanaway will be among the handful of rookies next year, but those two would be the biggest contenders for the rookie of the year honours. Stanaway, as we all know, will be in a full Tickford Racing Falcon while the young Hazelwood, who won Super2 last year, has graduated to the main game with his team at Matt Stone Racing. Hazelwood will get a choice in the car which the team’s backers have purchased both of Shell V-Power Racing Fords that was racing this year (please pick McLaughlin’s 2017 Ford).
Photos: Daniel Kalisz