Supercars mid-season review: The best of the rest

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Who will reign in Perth? Image: Volvo Polestar

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    Whilst they may not be battling for top honours in the Supercars championship, the scrum that comprises the mid-to-rear portion of the grid, has seen some of the fiercest competition in 2017.

    It has seen a very topsy-turvy affair amidst the best of the rest, with many of the usual contenders buried within the mid-field.

    Walkinshaw Racing, whom rebranded themselves as the HSV Racing Team for the new season, are the notable absentees from the front-runners – having done little to improve their fortunes as the season has progressed thus far.

    A best result of third was achieved by stalwart James Courtney at the opening round in Adelaide, however since then there been little to celebrate, with he and new teammate Scott Pye only finishing in the top ten on three other occasions.

    The former Holden Racing Team finds itself sitting eighth in the team’s championship, ahead of only Nissan Motorsport’s second duo and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, as far as multi-car teams are concerned.

    Their loss in 2017 has been the gain of Garry Rogers Motorsport, who over the offseason underwent a dramatic change with Volvo withdrawing from Supercars – forcing the Victorian team to revert to Holden Commodores.

    Whilst only a single podium has been achieved, courtesy of returnee Garth Tander, the team has looked the most competitive amongst the mid-field and currently sits fourth in the standings.

    Erebus Motorsport too, in their second year of their Holden project have made strides forward. The experience of David Reynolds has seen the squad attain regular top ten finishes, with a solitary podium coming at the Phillip Island round.

    Only 36-points separate Erebus from Brad Jones Racing in the championship race for fifth, with the Albury operation enduring mixed fortunes in 2017. Nick Percat in his first season with the team, has felt the worst of the misfortunes, having had three retirements in four races – as well as being caught in many incidents.

    Percat stood on the podium in Darwin, though his teammate Tim Slade in his sophomore year at BJR, has been the one with the superior pace in recent races.

    Despite expectation for progress up the grid in 2017, Nissan’s four car stable has somewhat underwhelmed. Team boss Rick Kelly has secured the only accolade for the team thus far, with pole position for the Saturday race in Darwin, though was unable to convert due to an incident.

    One positive to glean from Nissan’s campaign to date, has been the progress of Simona de Silvestro, who became the first full-time female driver in the Australian touring car category since 1998.

    The 28-year old has shown solid progress through the season, adapting from single seaters in which she has raced predominantly throughout her career, to the bulky Australian V8 Supercar.

    De Silvestro’s best weekend was seen at the demanding Phillip Island circuit, where she achieved her season best result of thirteenth in both races.

    Expectation will build in her second year, though for year one – De Silvestro’s arrival in Supercars has been one of the highlights in 2017.

    Single car outfits in Tekno and the Preston Hire Racing Team have both been far from their potential too, especially the former who in recent seasons have been regular race winners.

    Will Davison did endure hardship early in the season, sustaining injury following that chaotic pile-up during Race 3 in Tasmania – though since recovering has only claimed a best result of fifth.

    Whether the reigning Bathurst 1000 champions are a force again in the crucial Enduro Cup starting September, remains on the shoulders of team owner Jonathon Webb and if he co-drives the #19 again with Davison. Otherwise, with such a competitive top ten in the standings, it will be difficult for the 34-year old to move forward from his current position of sixteenth.

    Lee Holdsworth in the #18 Preston Hire Holden run by Charlie Schwerkholt, sits ahead of Davison in thirteenth – though requires further development to advance up the order, as the team enjoy a more trouble-free second season in the sport.

    History was made by Lucas Dumbrell’s team this season, as they fielded the youngest ever driver to compete in Supercars, with 16-year old Alex Rullo. There was controversy initially, with the youngster not qualifying for a CAMS Superlicense, though Rullo was granted race-by-race dispensation.

    A string of three consecutive retirements in the early portion of the season had done little to demonstrate Rullo’s abilities, as have the lack of any results inside the top twenty. Though if the now 17-year old is to be a long-term prospect for LDM, there is clear room for development.

    Meanwhile, the second seat at the financially turmoiled outfit has been a revolving door in 2017, with the contracted Matt Chadha having had his CAMS Superlicense revoked – forcing LDM to search for another driver.

    A total of five drivers have driven the #3 Commodore so far in 2017, including Taz Douglas, Alex Davison and Cameron McConville. Matthew Brabham made his Supercars debut in Perth for LDM, whilst Novocastrian Aaren Russell was locked into racing at Townsville, Bathurst and his home event in Newcastle.

    10 races now remain in 2017, with the Enduro Cup on the horizon. Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast is where any of these teams currently in that scrum for ‘best of the rest’ honours can make substantial inroads – or achieve the unthinkable, being a victory at The Mountain.