The 2021 Supercars season was an exciting one for sure. Shane van Gisbergen was dominant throughout the entire season and won his second Supercars title. We waved goodbye to Jamie Whincup who is the statistical GOAT of Supercars. Chaz Mostert and Lee Holdsworth won the Bathurst 1000, a race that also featured a keen motorsport fan in the form of an echidna. And finally, we had a few more races around Sydney Motorsport Park than we really expected (or wanted depending on your viewpoint).
Season 2021 has been won and done however, which means that season 2022 is a go. Now is a perfect time to roll out the crystal ball and try to predict what will happen over the course of this upcoming season. These are my four bold predictions for the 2022 Supercars Championship.
1. We will have a new Champion
Van Gisbergen proved he was a winning machine last season, and nothing could stop him from wrapping up his second championship win and the first since 2016. One might think that 2022 will be a repeat and that van Gisbergen will again sail off into the distance. For me though, you cannot disregard the talent that will show up this year and try to take that title off him in 2022.
With Scott McLaughlin racing Indycars over in the United States and with Whincup now permanently in the Red Bull garage with a headset on, the two most recent champions are Mark Winterbottom (2015) and James Courtney (2010). This means that if anyone can beat the flying Kiwi, then a new name will most likely be written into the record books.
This includes Red Bull rookie and 2021 Super2 Champion Broc Feeney, 2021 Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert and new Walkinshaw Andretti United teammate Nick Percat. Also don’t forget about Erebus young guns Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki and Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters, Thomas Randle and Jake Kostecki.
There are a lot of fast young drivers, and all they need to do is beat van Gisbergen’s #97 Red Bull car. Tough task for sure, but anything is possible.
2. A Mustang will win the Bathurst 1000
Aside from Scott McLaughlin’s 2019 victory, it has been quite a lean period of racing with Holden winning every 1000 since 2014. Last year, it was once again a tough time for the Mustangs with a P2 the only real highlight. Surely it is time for a Mustang to have some luck and cross that finish line first.
There will be nine Mustangs on this years 25-car grid, including three former Bathurst 1000 Champions – Will Davison (2009 & 2016), David Reynolds (2017) and Lee Holdsworth (2021). You can’t ignore experience and those three have a combined 15 Bathurst starts.
Then there is the #6 Monster Mustang of Cameron Waters who has finished the runner-up in the last two Bathurst 1000’s. Having been frustrated to have missed out on the Peter Brock Trophy by only one position each time, he will be looking to go one better and claim the Peter Brock Trophy for himself and the first for Tickford since 2014.
Don’t forget James Courtney, Jake Kostecki, Anton DePasquale and Thomas Randle too, all with something to prove. James Courtney in fact is one of only four drivers to win a Supercars Championship without winning Bathurst. You can be sure he wants to get his name off that list.
Finally, Tim Slade in the single car CoolDrive/Tim Blanchard Racing outfit are real dark horses, having impressed last year at the Bathurst 500 with a front row appearance in the shootout and a solid 9th place in the 1000.
Anything can happen at Bathurst and all you need to do is lead lap 161. I’m truly believing that it’ll go blue this year.
3. Grove Racing (formerly Kelly Racing) will be the most improved team
New management has officially taken over Kelly Racing and the Grove’s are now looking to improve on its search for podiums and wins. The team will be helped by the added support of Penrite who have just announced additional backing on both of the team’s Ford Mustangs.
Experience is key for the team, with David Reynolds continuing in the #26, and will be joined by last year’s Bathurst 1000 winner Lee Holdsworth, who will drive in the #10. These two make it the most experienced line-up of all teams up and down pit lane, combining for over 800 Supercar race starts.
There is plenty of opportunity to build having struggled for consistency in the 2021 season, finishing down in 8th position in the Teams Championship. Reynolds finished 18th in the Drivers standings with Andre Heimgartner, who is off to Brad Jones Racing for 2022, finishing one spot better in 17th position.
For 2022 however, I expect better things. The team now has some new people, new parts, more experience and knowledge, and I fully believe that race wins, podiums and top 10s in the Drivers standings are possible.
4. We will have a final round decider… with three drivers in contention
This is probably more wishful thinking, but I think that we will get a F1 2021 Abu Dhabi style finish for the Supercars this season. Not only that, but I predict that there will be three drivers with a chance of lifting the Championship trophy. At the time of writing, who knows what racetrack that might be at, but just for the excitement and the emotional rollercoaster, a final round and even a final race points decider would be nice.
It has been rare over the last few years, with van Gisbergen having wrapped up the title before heading to Bathurst last year and McLaughlin having done the same in the years prior. We have to look back to 2017 between Whincup and McLaughlin for a proper last round decider, when the championship was decided by a dramatic post-race pit lane penalty for McLaughlin on the final lap, giving Whincup his seventh and final championship.
And even then, the last time there were three drivers in contention for the championship heading into the final round was 12 years ago in 2010, when James Courtney, Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom were all a shout of winning.
We all know what happened next however, with the infamous “They’re in the fence, they’re both in the fence, they’re all in the fence” remark by television commentary when half the field, including the three championship contenders, all hit the wall in the rain while stuck on slick tyres. James Courtney would be victorious at the end of that weekend, winning the championship for Dick Johnson Racing.
Those were the good days, but if we get anything like what I hope we get with these predictions (basically a wish list), then we should be in for a cracker of a season.