(Australian Associated Press)
Technical changes are “dumbing down” cars and may produce some surprise new Supercars contenders in 2019, Holden great Jamie Whincup says.
The seven-time series champion is expected to bounce back from a shock third-place finish in 2018 and launch yet another title tilt when the Supercars season starts with the Adelaide 500 this weekend.
Defending series champion Scott McLaughlin is the man in everyone’s sights after the Ford gun pipped Whincup’s Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen for the 2018 title.
He is still expected to be the driver to beat despite Ford teams switching from Falcons to Mustangs this year – the first time since 1990 it has appeared on the grid.
But Whincup reckons McLaughlin will also have a few smokies in his Mustang’s rearview mirror due to technical regulations introduced this year.
Supercars have made the changes to help decrease maintenance costs for teams and ensure a level playing field.
They include a new-look gearbox, a revamped engine electronic control unit and shock absorber changes.
“The category do a fantastic job at parity to make sure all cars are pretty even,” Whincup told reporters.
“No doubt the usual culprits will be there this week but with the changing of the rules, the dumbing down of the car…(and) the cars being more even there might be a few roughies.
“Some teams that weren’t competitive last year will be there this year.”
Whincup is still expected to be in the mix when the Adelaide 500 celebrates its 20th anniversary on the tough street circuit this weekend.
He is the Adelaide 500’s most successful driver with four overall round victories, 10 individual race wins and seven pole positions.His Red Bull Racing teammate van Gisbergen is also no slouch.
The 2017 series champion is aiming to become the first driver to win five straight races at Adelaide.
He can also become the first to win three straight overall Adelaide 500 rounds this weekend.Whincup believed the extreme heat may also be a great leveller.
Temperatures are expected to soar past 40 degrees in Adelaide, ensuring the thermometer inside the cars will push close to 70 degrees for the two 78-lap races.
“It will be survival of the fittest, a proper slog-fest,” Whincup said.