A Not Particularly Silly Season
The start of the Supercars silly season usually roughly coincides with the endurance season. This year, however, there's not much to talk about. It's quite possible that this year's silly season will only involve the second driver at Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, a new minnow team with a rookie driver, and a change of some sort at Garry Rogers Motorsport. A stark contrast to last year where even Racing Entitlement Contracts changed teams. This year's silly season is likely to produce no movement at all from the big teams. None of the off-contract can do any better and neither can their respective teams. The silly season is almost at a stalemate.
There were only two high profile, off-contract drivers, this year. Prodrive’s Chaz Mostert and DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard. Coulthard re-signed with Penske back in June when he was leading the championship. Coulthard was always extremely unlikely to leave unless someone threw a lot of money at him, and he's not worth that much. He's going nowhere unless Penske drops him. Penske was unlikely to do that this year. There are better drivers than Coulthard, but the only one available was Mostert. But Mostert doesn't really fit the Penske mould. Mostert's flamboyantly personality and appearance doesn't align with the clean cut, professional image the Captain looks for in a driver. Penske was unlikely to take on a rookie like Matt Campbell or Richie Stanaway, they'd rather wait until they're more experienced. Should the likes of Stanaway or Campbell be available with a few years experience next time Coulthard or Scott McLaughlin’s contract expires, they should be worried.
Despite his 2018 contract with Prodrive, Bright retiring isn’t the only way in for Stanaway. Long time LDM sponsor Phil Munday is set to buy a major share in the team, as much as half of it. Munday’s cash injection will allow the team to buy new cars, with Prodrive
Prior to yesterday’s news, possible candidates for the second LDM car would have included Garry Jacobson, Shae Davies, Jack LeBrocq and Anton De Pasquale.They still shouldn’t be ruled out, especially Jacobson, but the situation has changed. Richie Stanaway was looking like an extremely unlikely option and is now the obvious choice. LDM running Prodrive cars improves his chance of making it into the main series significantly. Stanaway is contracted to Prodrive for the enduros next year so any full-time drive would require Prodrive’s consent. If LDM are running new Prodrive cars, then it's an attractive option for Prodrive,
LDM’s ownership change leaves Super2 team Matt Stone Racing without a pathway into the main series. MSR was hoping to buy a REC to run a single car for Super2 championship leader Todd Hazelwood. LDM was reportedly looking at selling one, which would have provided a relatively easy entry for MSR. Now, MSR will have to tender for one of the two RECs held by Supercars, competing with GRM and fellow Super2 team Matthew White Motorsport. MW Motorsport is after two RECs to run customer Nissans for LeBrocq and Davies. Unless Todd Kelly decides to retire, this would be the only way LeBrocq and Davies could get into the main series.
Tim Slade's contract is up at Brad Jones Racing, but there's nothing to suggest that he's about to leave. Holden was apparently interested in getting Simona de Silvestro into a BJR car, but Nissan Motorsport maintains that she has a long term contract with them. It's hard to see Slade leaving. BJR doesn't let go of drivers easily, and there isn't really anyone else available to them who would be an improvement.
At GRM, James Moffat is coming to the end of his two-year contract and James Golding is waiting to take his place. That doesn’t mean that Moffat will definitely be losing his place in the championship, but it doesn’t look good for Allan’s son. If GRM does what most people are anticipating they’ll do, Moffat will be looking for a new team and they’re aren’t many options. LDM and possibly Erebus may have a free seat available, but only for a pay driver. Moffat’s best chance to stay in Supercars would be if GRM expanded to four cars. Owner Garry Rogers floated the idea a few weeks ago, only for his son and team director, Barry, to publicly state they had no interest in an expansion
Besides LDM and what may or may not happen at GRM and MW Motorsport, there really isn’t a whole lot happening in the silly season this year. Every other driver is signed or signing them is a mere formality. There are at least new seven drivers in line for a start. Two look like getting one, but it’s impossible for all seven to unless something unexpected happens.