Bathurst 500 talking points: Supercars season off with a bang, but Kostecki saga overshadows it

The Supercars championship is back in 2024 with the title fight being as open as ever, after a controversial off-season seeing reigning champion Brodie Kostecki not on the grid for the opening Bathurst 500.

12 rounds, including a return to New Zealand at the Taupo circuit is all to look forward to – though from the opening duo of 250km races from the legendary Mount Panorama circuit, here are the talking points.

The Brodie Kostecki saga

The Supercars off-season was driven entirely by the separation saga between 2023 champion Kostecki and championship-winning outfit Erebus Motorsport, with Speedcafe first reporting the rift in late January.

At first, it was unthinkable that the 26-year-old would walk away following the success he’d shared with the Betty Klimenko-owned outfit, though as the speculation continued to mount and unravel, the overwhelming feeling was that this relationship was untenable.

January 31 saw Erebus announce that Kostecki would miss the Bathurst 500, as a slew of drivers including former champions in Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen threw their support around their colleague. The latter was involved in a similar situation when he ‘retired’ at the end of 2012, then emerged on the grid with Tekno Autosports the following year instead of the team he was contracted with, which ironically was Erebus.

Brodie Kostecki. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Supercars’ own communication around the matter did little to relieve speculation and was even lambasted for bringing the suggestion of Kostecki’s mental health to the fore without further clarity. All while sponsor after sponsor, including title partner Coca-Cola, Shaw & Partners among others ceased their involvement with Erebus Motorsport.

With it unlikely that Kostecki will feature again for Erebus, the desire for answers is still rife and Klimenko and Team CEO Barry Ryan’s emotional interview with Fox Sports’ Jess Yates ahead of the Bathurst 500 cautiously avoided anything to fuel further speculation.

“We respect Brodie’s privacy and because of that we cannot say anything,” was Klimenko’s response, before trying to inject positivity into the chat by stating that this “isn’t the first bus you’ve been thrown under,” to her CEO in Ryan.

Ryan himself broke down during the interview, emotionally revealing that “the biggest thing has been my wife and daughters making sure I don’t do something silly because there has been so much hate. I’m not that sort of person. I am not a bully and I care for people.”

Regardless of what the eventual outcome will be or when we’ll finally hear Kostecki’s side of the matter, Supercars cannot escape the fact that this has overshadowed the start of the new season and will continue to do so.

Red Bull young guns lock horns

Perhaps the most exciting driver combination of 2024 is the Red Bull duo of 21-year-old Broc Feeney and 25-year-old Will Brown – who joined the team from Erebus. And this was on display from the outset, as both battled for the win in Race 1.

Brown fired the opening shot with his Top-Ten Shootout pole position, 0.206 seconds faster than the incumbent Red Bull driver in Feeney. The polesitter then led the start, with Chaz Mostert attempting to upset the front row into Hell Corner.

The Mobil 1 Optus Mustang then was out-dragged by both Red Bull Camaros and the Matt Stone Racing Camaro of Cameron Hill up Mountain Straight and into Griffen’s Bend. A safety car immediately neutralised the field however, with Mostert’s rookie teammate Ryan Wood escorted off into the gravel at Turn 1 – featuring Andre Heimgartner, Thomas Randle and Tim Slade.

A new season starts now, and it’s anyone’s to win ????

This is 2024 @RepcoAustralia Supercars Championship! #RepcoSC #Supercars

— Supercars (@supercars) February 22, 2024

Following the safety car, Brown led the opening stanza, before being overhauled by teammate Feeney during the first round of pit-stops. From there, last year’s Sandown 500 winner was able to maintain the leading pace up until, on Lap 32, a rogue front-left wheel from the Monster Energy Mustang of Cameron Waters detached itself at Griffen’s Bend.

This saw the implementation of the ‘Full Course Yellow’, which is new to Supercars this year; as a tool to neutralise the field without deploying the safety car. Similar to the virtual safety car procedure in Formula One.

Lap 35 saw the race go back to green flag conditions, with Brown trailing Feeney by half a second and Mostert within three seconds of the leading duo. The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner’s gains were made across the top of the mountain, while the Camaros would remain out of touch on the straights.

However, the 40-lapper faced an anti-climax when a late safety car for rookie Aaron Love’s crash at The Cutting meant that the top three finished as is and Feeney took the first lot of 150 points ahead of new teammate Brown.

Brown beats Mostert in the pit-lane for Race 2 win

Eager to disrupt the Red Bull status quo from the opening 250km race of the season, Mostert agonisingly missed out on pole in the Top-Ten Shootout on Sunday by 0.009 seconds – as Feeney headed up the front row of the grid for Race 2.

Though it was the Mobil 1 Optus Mustang that executed the better start again, but this time had the ascendency around the outside of Hell Corner to lead the race. Mostert led ahead of PremiAir Racing’s James Golding, who jumped the Red Bull duo coming out of Turn 1.

The lofty heights for Golding was short-lived however, arriving into The Chase at the end of the first lap with Feeney locking up on the inside and sending the 28-year-old off into the grass. This resulted in a five-second penalty to Feeney for the driving infringement.

Will Brown holds off Chaz Mostert to claim his first race win with @redbullampol!

He takes the championship lead with a dominant display at the Thrifty Bathurst 500 #RepcoSC #Supercars

— Supercars (@supercars) February 25, 2024

Mostert led the field through the first round of pit-stops, however on Lap 29 when the leader and second-placed Brown pitted again, a wheel-nut issue for Walkinshaw Andretti United meant that they had to put a six-lap old tyre onto the right front.

While Triple Eight with Brown enjoyed the benefits of a shorter fuel drop, as they filled longer in their first stop. This saw the Red Bull Ampol Camaro released just ahead of Mostert, with the gap between the pair at the conclusion of the out-lap less than a second.

The fastest lap of the race for Mostert on Lap 31 gave hope that he could yet overhaul Brown for the win, though the lead for the Toowoomba-born driver extended out to 1.8 seconds ultimately before the chequered flag fell.

A first victory for Brown in Red Bull colours sees him leave Bathurst in the lead of the championship, with teammate Feeney behind by nine points after his third-placed finish in Race 2.


While the achievements and fervent efforts from the Chevrolet teams in the first year of the Gen3 technical regulations cannot be dismissed, there is still residual negative feelings around how the parity between the Camaro and Ford Mustang was handled in 2023.

The past aside, 2024 is going to be key for Supercars correcting the controversial introduction of the Gen3 platform. Much was put into the landmark post-season testing conducted under the eye of newly appointed Supercars General Manager of Motorsport in Tim Edwards.

This saw the homologation outfits from both Chevrolet and Ford conduct extensive wind-tunnel testing in the US Windshear facility – utilised by NASCAR. It can be openly questioned why, as the prominent racing series in Australia, this wasn’t done initially, over the grossly archaic VCAT test, which essentially measured parity between both cars in a straight-line run on an airfield runway.

Aerodynamic adjustments have been made, however the transient-dynamometer testing between the engines is yet to take place. One key change for Ford in the off-season, was that DJR had taken the development of the Coyote V8 in-house – though remains separate to the race team entity.

With the fresh approach from Edwards, over his predecessor Adrian Burgess who now heads up Team 18 as the Team Principal, as well as ongoing commitment from Supercars CEO Shane Howard to make this work, there needs to be faith, however on a short leash.

Mostert after his podium finish in Race 1 behind the Red Bull Ampol Camaro duo, raised eyebrows with his comments that “the speed trap numbers don’t lie,” referring to the straight-line speed still lacking from the Ford Mustangs.

Fresh faces

Supercars saw an enthralling silly season in 2023, with many changes to the grid for this year triggered by the departure of three-time champion van Gisbergen to NASCAR. As well as last-minute changes, with the absence of Kostecki from Erebus.

A new season starts now, and it’s anyone’s to win ????

This is 2024 @RepcoAustralia Supercars Championship! #RepcoSC #Supercars

— Supercars (@supercars) February 22, 2024

The 2023 Supercars champion’s former teammate Will Brown is now at Red Bull Ampol Racing, in place of van Gisbergen. While Todd Hazelwood, who was due to be Erebus’ endurance driver now finds himself partnering Jack Le Brocq in a completely new lineup.

Tickford downsized from four cars to two, in a sensible move to streamline and prioritise its key contenders in Waters and Randle. This shift saw Declan Fraser unfortunately sidelined, while 2010 champion James Courtney joins the expanded Blanchard Racing Team with rookie Love.

Love is joined by fellow rookies in Wood, who stunned in his maiden Super2 season last year to usurp Nick Percat for a drive at Walkinshaw Andretti United, as well as the highly-rated Porsche racer Jaxon Evans entering the Brad Jones Racing fold in place of Jack Smith.

Experienced hands in Percat and David Reynolds have found new homes at Matt Stone Racing and Team 18 respectively, while Grove Racing have filled the Reynolds vacancy with 2023 Bathurst 1000 winner in Richie Stanaway – who makes his full-time return to Supercars since his troubled first stint ended in 2019.

Both Wood and Love endured a difficult debut weekend, with the former again involved in an incident on the opening lap in Race 2 – while Love was classified in 22nd, albeit three laps off the lead.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


Stanaway headlined the first race, with his fourth-placed finish in the Penrite Mustang. As did Reynolds in Race 2, finishing in the top six after an earlier drama in qualifying and still making the Top-Ten Shootout.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.