A new generation of drivers has risen to the top of Supercars, with the likes of Brodie Kostecki, Will Brown and Broc Feeney stepping up to replace the likes of Shane van Gisbergen at the top of the championship, as we examine in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #131.
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When Feeney crossed the line to win the Adelaide 500 in 2022, it was a case of history repeating. Sixteen years earlier, his team boss and endurance co-driver Jamie Whincup crossed the same finish line to win in his first round with Triple Eight Race Engineering in 2006. The 2022 win may have been at the end of Feeney’s first season with the team, as opposed to the start of the season for Whincup, but there were some obvious parallels. In both cases, it represented a generation change in Supercars.
Feeney was only 18 years of age when he was hand-picked to replace the retiring Whincup at Triple Eight for 2022 and beyond. After a meteoric rise that included Super3 and Super2 championship wins, Feeney had big shoes to fill with Whincup rewriting the record books on his way to seven championship wins. Ending his rookie season with a such a convincing win on the punishing streets of Adelaide set the tone for what was to come in 2023, with a changing of the guard amongst the driver ranks.
Before 2023, just three drivers had won the championship dating back to 2016 – Shane van Gisbergen, Whincup and Scott McLaughlin. By the end of 2023, all three would have moved on, accelerating the generation change in Supercars. With Whincup’s retirement and van Gisbergen and McLaughlin’s departures to North America, the likes of Feeney were in prime positions to step up.
Helping the generation change was the introduction of the new Gen3 cars in 2023. Younger drivers with less experience in the different previous generation Supercar weren’t as disadvantaged as previously. Amongst the drivers who took their opportunity with the new cars were Erebus Motorsport’s Kostecki and Brown.
It was seen as a risk when Erebus Motorsport banked on youth and promoted its young endurance co-drivers Kostecki and Brown into full-time drives for 2021. The duo rewarded the team with pole positions, podiums and race wins, stepping up into championship contention in the new cars in 2023.
After three full-time seasons with Erebus Motorsport, Brown will head to Triple Eight to team with Feeney in place of the NASCAR-bound van Gisbergen in 2024. The Feeney-Brown inter-team rivalry shapes as one of the most intriguing for next season.
Feeney and Kostecki were the latest drivers to come off the Norwell Motorplex driving school production line of talent, under the tutelage of former Bathurst 1000 winner and championship regular Paul Morris.
Like with Brown, a diverse background in racing a variety of cars and mastering their techniques with regular training and coaching seems to be paying dividends. Just as Whincup raised the bar back in the mid-2000s, so too are the new generation in terms of how to achieve success.