Supercars’ massive pit lane shake-up for 2018
MOTORSPORT: The Supercars pit lane will have a very different look in 2018.
This year's garage order was released on Wednesday, confirming a shuffling of squads in the wake of the 2017 team's championship results.
Triple Eight will not take pride of place in Garage 1, next to pit exit, for the first time since 2010. That mantle instead goes to DJR Team Penske courtesy of their team's title victory last year.
With it comes the honour of leading the field out of pit lane for every practice and qualifying session, and to head to the grid for each race, plus enjoying a pit bay position that is the most favourable for pit strategy.
Triple Eight now shifts to garages two and three, the latter still shared with Tekno Autosports. Next to them, Tickford Racing and Garry Rogers Motorsport have switched spots, the Ford squad now occupying garages four and five for its four-car operation.
Big changes have happened along the rest of the lane, too.
Erebus Motorsport's breakout 2017 season has moved it from the next-to-last garage ahead of Nissan Motorsport, Walkinshaw Andretti United and Brad Jones Racing to the seventh garage.
In fact, the team's championship battle between Nissan, WAU and BJR went down to the final laps in Newcastle, flying under the radar thanks to the driver's title showdown between Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup.
The top-10 finishes for Rick and Todd Kelly in the season finale gave Nissan a 15-point advantage, moving all four of its cars ahead of WAU, which slides from the third to the 10th garage for the inaugural year of its new union.
The other big change comes among the one-car teams, with Team 18 pairing up with new squad 23Red Racing to take the garages closest to pit entry.
The last two years saw Charlie Schwerkolt's squad pair with Tim Blanchard's Brad Jones Racing-run entry. Crew size limits meant both teams supplied mechanics for their pit stops, but the distance between the two teams' headquarters made practising pit stops difficult logistically.
With Team 18 and 23Red both Melbourne-based, the new arrangement will allow the two crews to practise weekly.
"Phil (Munday, 23Red owner) has built a pit stop car that our guys will go and practice on with them every Friday at their new workshop," Schwerkolt told supercars.com.
That leaves Gold Coast-based Supercars newcomers Matt Stone Racing to pair with the Blanchard car in Garage 12.