Garth Tander says the introduction of Gen3 next year has the potential to turn the pecking order on its head in the Repco Supercars Championship.
The category is roughly a year out from the racing rollout of its all-new Gen3 cars on the streets of Newcastle.
In launching the next-generation touring cars, Supercars will follow the likes of NASCAR and Formula 1, both of which have introduced new regulations in 2022.
NASCAR and Formula 1 have enjoyed an encouraging start to their respective rule changes.
The NASCAR Cup Series has thus far seen five different winners in the first five races this year.
Meanwhile, at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, Ferrari scored its first win since 2019.
The new Formula 1 regulations have also seen Haas and Alfa Romeo appear far more competitive than before while the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin have started on the back foot.
Asked whether the tide might turn in a similar fashion once Gen3 debuts in Supercars, Tander told Speedcafe.com, “Yeah, I think there is potential for that.
“We saw that when we went to the Car of the Future; Brad Jones Racing were very, very, very strong in the early part of that technical ruleset.
“During Project Blueprint, they were sort of there but not really, but when we rolled out with Car of the Future, they were very strong.
“There is potential for the order to be mixed up and someone to come out of the pack that is not a traditional powerhouse.
“Obviously, all the teams will be doing as much homework as they can once the final architecture of the car is complete, and they understand what they need to make it go fast.
“When we roll out for the first round of the championship next year with all the new cars, genuinely, you won’t have any form guide at all – and that’s pretty refreshing, isn’t it?
“We haven’t had that for a long time. I think that’s something really to look forward to.”
Coincidentally, Brad Jones Racing has brought respected engineer Phil Keed back onboard this year, one of the key playmakers in bringing the team success in the early going of the Car of the Future regulations.
Tander said the Albury-based team’s increased competitiveness caught the Supercars paddock off-guard.
With Gen3, he sees no reason why that couldn’t happen again.
“We were all trying to figure that out at the time,” said Tander.
“I think the big thing was the change from solid rear end to independent rear suspension and understanding the influence that had over the car.
“They clearly got a head start on everyone. The way that the car was able to flow mid-corner speed and not using the tyre was impressive back in the day.
“They obviously understood that, ironically, at the time, Phil Keed was at Brad Jones Racing and he’s just gone back.
“Brad’s maybe pulled a bit of a blinder there. We’ll have to wait and see in the early months next year.”
This weekend Tander will get his first taste of the Gen3-specification Chevrolet Camaro, cutting demonstration laps across the Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint event at Symmons Plains International Raceway.
Since breaking cover at last year’s Bathurst 1000, the car has undergone several changes; namely the inclusion of a manual sequential shifter and much-needed improvements to the ergonomics.
The Gen3 car is a technical departure from its Gen2 predecessor.
Gone is the 5.0-litre formula across the board, with the Chevrolet Camaro utilising a 5.7-litre LTR while the Ford Mustang is fitted with a 5.4-litre Coyote.
As a result, the power delivery has taken some getting used to for drivers, which is also done so via electronic drive-by-wire throttle.
Tander said he’s tried not to read too much into the observations of other drivers before having his first go.
“It’s not very often that you get an opportunity to drive an all-new car,” he said.
“There’s been a handful of guys that have driven them. I’ve sort of tried not to talk too much to them at all about what they’re like so if I ever got the chance to drive the car in the early stages I had a clear mind.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I hope that the cars are as challenging to drive as some of the guys have said, but in saying that, the cars are very much in the early stages of development.
“The teams, once they get hold of them and start engineering them and working out what makes them tick, they’ll make them into pretty cool race cars. So yeah, I’m looking forward to.”
At well over six-foot and among the tallest co-drivers on the grid, getting Tander in the cockpit affords Supercars an opportunity to see how the lankier drivers fare following ergonomic changes.
“Ergo stuff is obviously a big, big thing,” Tander explained.
“They’re keen to have me in it because of my height. I was also part of Car of the Future when we were building those, because obviously I was a tall driver then.
“Getting me in there as another tall driver, but probably a bit of a different frame, is going to be one of the main things that they are keen on.
“Then just feedback on the systems, obviously, that’s changed now to the stick shift. So, you know, just feedback and all that stuff.
“Going to Symmons Plains with that is perfect, because you’re up and down the box quite a bit there. There hasn’t been a real brief just yet; it’s just jump in and drive it, see what you think.”
Marcos Ambrose will be behind the wheel of the Ford Mustang prototype during the demonstration laps.
Both cars will stay on after the race weekend for two days of full-blown testing.