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Adelaide 500 preview: The final chapter of Holden vs Ford rivalry

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Roar Guru
20th February, 2020
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With the demise of Holden dominating the headlines in the run-up to the start of the 2020 Supercars season, the time for the cars and drivers to take centre stage has come at the curtain raising Adelaide 500.

A return to this familiar, gruelling concrete jungle will see the grid of 24 tested. There have been many changes during the off-season, including drivers changing teams or even teams changing manufacturers.

Some teams have even expanded their operations, such as Brad Jones Racing, which now has a permanent fourth entry for full-time rookie Jack Smith. Matt Stone Racing and Charlie Schwerkolt’s Team 18 have also expanded to two cars each, with race-winner Scott Pye now housed at the latter.

MSR meanwhile have added Garry Jacobson as replacement to Todd Hazelwood, who’s now at BJR, and have utilised the new SuperLite concept to give rookies Zane Goddard and Jake Kostecki split opportunities for 2020.

The majority of the spotlight in terms of teams during the off-season was the relocation of Tekno from Queensland to New South Wales to form the all-new Team Sydney. Having finally come to fruition, James Courtney will bear familiar Boost Mobile colours while his new teammate will be journeyman Chris Pither.

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Former Bathurst winner Chaz Mostert will make his Holden debut for Walkinshaw Andretti United, with the addition of his long-time engineer Adam DeBorre for a much-needed boost to the team that struggled in 2019. Reigning Super2 champion Bryce Fullwood will make his debut alongside the former Ford stalwart.

Among some of the technical changes to the category for 2020 will be the introduction of control shock absorbers, standardising that component up and down the grid, meaning that everyone will use that same damper. This is set to be a measure towards cutting costs in the category, as well as creating closer competition.

Also is the much-anticipated new aero package, which will see a reduction in aerodynamics on both the Ford Mustang – of which there’ll be eight on the grid, due to Kelly Racing’s switch from Nissan – and the Holden ZB Commodore. The Mustang’s proficient aero caused a major furore in 2019, with a raft of changes being implemented throughout the season for parity.

Scott McLaughlin tackles the kerbs at Adelaide in his Shell V-Power Mustang.

(AAP Image/David Mariuz)

This left the Red Bull Holden Racing Team in the ascendency following the Bathurst 1000 and perhaps the ones to beat across the two 250km races in Adelaide this weekend. Shane van Gisbergen, who’ll be contending for a second Supercars title, is a prolific dominator of street circuits, while teammate and seven-time champion Jamie Whincup is the winningest driver at this venue. Whincup’s future in the sport will also be a point of focus this weekend, with the veteran poised to make an announcement on Saturday.

Though after sweeping all the major accolades in 2019, including the driver’s and team’s championships, Scott McLaughlin and DJR Team Penske will still be the benchmark for the rest of the competition. Perhaps they even have a point to prove, following all the parity changes in the lead-up to the new season.

The field should be a lot closer this year and opportunities will be out there for other teams to be in the winning mix, apart from Red Bull and the Shell V-Power Team. Tickford made gains in 2019 with the Mustang and have added Jack Le Brocq to replace Mostert, while the likes of Team 18, Erebus and Kelly Racing all have the ingredients to regularly challenge for the podium and race wins.

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Aside from all the speculation about what the future of Supercars will look like post-Holden, the 2020 season promises to be another enthralling one – especially given that it will be last chapter in the generation-defining Holden versus Ford rivalry.