Five future Supercars stars (that you’ve never heard of before)
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It’s tumultuous times for the Supercars Championship.
The focus has been on the category’s new direction, with the Gen II regulations popping over the horizon. The problem is that while Holden have released the look (concept anyways) of the ‘NG’ Commodore Supercar, nobody else has released their next cars, or even confirmed that a next car is on the way.
The other thing that we need to consider though is who is coming up through the ranks. In this respect the Supercars is also in a curious place. As a young driver the road to Supercars can either be dead easy or impossible, depending on your budget, your level of talent, your budget, and your budget.
Budget’s important, if that wasn’t clear.
Anyway, here’s five drivers that could well emerge out the other side of the junior-series landscape as the next Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes, or Greg Murphy.
Photo / Garry Rogers Motorsport
He made his debut in the series last year as a co-driver to David Wall at Garry Rogers Motorsport, and spent his duration behind the wheel doing either one of two things; impressing, or crashing.
It was a stark contrast to his Development Series (nee Super2) season in the one-tier removed V8 class, where he was often consistent and quick, scooping a few wins on the way. He was in line to replace Scott McLaughlin in GRM, only to be left out in the cold without a co-driver or full-time driver role.
To make up the difference the 21-year-old was handed two wildcard drives for the team; recently impressing at drive #1 at Winton. Garry Rogers knows how to pick his young drivers, and he did it well with Golding. If he’s not at GRM as a full-timer soon, expect him to get poached by another team — if not challenge for the Super2 title next season.
Photo / Simon Chapman
There had to be a token Kiwi in this list. It’s just how it goes.
And that Kiwi is open-wheel driver Taylor Cockerton. Coming off a second stellar season in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, Cockerton is currently competing in the Formula Masters Series in Asia. He’s a race winner there, and a championship contender.
Why Cockerton? Well, he’s made no qualms about wanting a drive in the Supercars — which is at odds with the majority of his Kiwi open-wheel peers who harbour desires for careers in either Europe or America. He’s also rather good.
What isn’t in his favour is his lack of tin-top experience. That said, it’s early days in his career, and having an open-wheel heavy resume didn’t exactly hurt Shane van Gisbergen’s chances when he started…
Photo / Eggleston Motorsport
Of the names on this list that get me excited, Will Brown is the surprise standout.
Hopping out of the Australian Toyota 86 Championship and the Australian Formula 4 Championship, he debuted in the Dunlop Super2 development series this year with Triple 8 affiliates Eggleston Motorsport.
And alongside two more established drivers, Paul Dumbrell and Nathan Morcom, he’s been a revelation. His season started with three top 10s in a car and formula completely new to him, before grabbing a podium at the very next race at Symonds Plains. He’s fifth in the championship — compare that to Morcom (last year’s Australian GT Endurance Champion) who sits 11th.
My money is on Brown stealing a cheeky win by the end of the year. With the right connections, he’ll get into the main game on talent.
Anton de Pasquale
Photo / sourced
Connections are arguably Anton de Pasquale’s best attribute. The 21-year-old has raced for Paul Morris (former Supercars team owner, Bathurst winner, and general wise man) for the last two seasons in Super2.
That came after a successful-but-not-successful European campaign in 2014 where he won the Formula Renault 1.6 NEC title, which in turn came after a Aussie Formula Ford championship win in 2013 (where he beat Golding, Shane van Gisbergen’s 2017 V8 co-driver Matt Campbell, and this year’s TRS champ Thomas Randle).
That talent helped net his first win in Super2 just a few weeks ago at Phillip Island. A few more wins and he’ll start to get on a few radars.
Photo / Getty Images
Controversial pick, but let me explain.
As you may know, Rullo already races in the Supercars Championship. His entrance to the series (again, as you may know) was a difficult one.
At just 16 years of age (he turns 17 on Thursday funnily enough), he became the youngest driver to compete in the series on a full-time basis. He also entered on the shaky grounds of a special dispensation from CAMS, since he didn’t possess the necessary points to qualify for a Superlicense. This perfect storm brewed skepticism among fans; compounded by the fact that he was a regular mid-pack runner in Super2 last year and that he’d ‘bought the ride’ (like many drivers before him).
But, in challenging circumstances and with a struggling team, Rullo’s largely raced very clean this year. He’s also been pretty slow, true, but his pace hasn’t been far away from his typically more experienced teammates (teammates have come and gone all season, with the team onto their third this coming weekend). He even puffed out his chest to publicly defend himself against some less-than-complimentary words from former champ Mark Winterbottom.
My point is this; the kid is 16. When I was 16 I was eating potato chips, playing Xbox on a beanbag (what ever happened to bean bags. Do people still buy them?). He might not be going too flash out there right now, but he’s already ahead of so many other drivers — including everyone on this list.
The key for Rullo is patience and perseverance. He’ll eventually get there.