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If you take McLaughlin out of the equation, the battle for Supercars supremacy went down to the wire at Bathurst in 2020, giving us a taste of what to expect in 2021.
Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters secured second place in the 2020 championship behind McLaughlin and ahead of Triple Eight Race Engineering duo Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.
Waters is the form driver entering 2021, ending 2020 with his first solo Supercars win at The Bend Motorsport Park followed by a strong showing at Bathurst that included a sensational pole position and podium.
Tickford Racing will carry continuity into next season, with a return to its Victorian base and ability to reset key in the final year running the current Gen2 Ford Mustang.
Triple Eight Race Engineering represents a formidable opponent, though, with van Gisbergen and Whincup remaining with the team for their sixth season as teammates. While they both had their ups and downs in 2020, they appear to be the frontrunners in the wake of the changes at the reigning champions.
It will be a busy year for Triple Eight Race Engineering as they develop the Gen3 Camaro for 2022 while running the ZB Commodore without Holden branding in 2021.
All eyes will be on Dick Johnson Racing and how the team copes without McLaughlin and Team Penske. The combination of Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison is a strong mix of youth and experience, while the continued presence of Ludo Lacroix will stabilise the team off the track.
Not only will the team have to adjust without the Team Penske influence, it will also be charged with developing the new-look Gen3 Mustang for 2022.
Elsewhere, Walkinshaw Andretti United will look to continue its upward trajectory with Chaz Mostert and Bryce Fullwood returning for their second seasons with the team. Mostert was a regular on the podium and fifth in the championship, with the goal of race wins in 2021.
Another potential contender is Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat, who scored two wins for seventh in the championship in 2020. Percat has solidified his place as team leader at Brad Jones Racing, buoyed by the race-winning pace and with Todd Hazelwood back as his teammate.
Team 18 will also benefit from continuity with Scott Pye and Mark Winterbottom, who both finished inside the top 10 in the championship in 2020, returning in 2021. After a handful of podiums for Pye, the aim for the team is a breakthrough win.
While teams will be returning to a more normal schedule and routine in 2021, there “¨will still be the off-track distraction of preparing for the new cars in 2022 to complicate what shapes as a wide-open season.
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