The 2018 Supercars Championship (known for commercial reasons as the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship) was an FIA-sanctioned international motor racing series for Supercars. It was the twentieth running of the Supercars Championship and the twenty-second series in which Supercars have contested the premier Australian touring car title. Teams and drivers competed in thirty-one races at sixteen venues across Australia and New Zealand for the championship titles. Scott McLaughin won his maiden title at the final race in Newcastle, while Red Bull Holden Racing Team won the Teams Championship at Pukekohe.
The 2018 season saw the introduction of the first Gen 2 Supercars, which opened up the category up to a wider variety of body shapes and engine configurations. The championship saw the introduction of the hatchback Holden ZB Commodore, marking the first time since 1994 that a car with a body shape other than a four-door sedan has competed.
Teams and drivers
Holden and Nissan were represented by factory-backed teams Triple Eight Race Engineering and Nissan Motorsport respectively. Teams were free to develop new chassis and engine packages under the Gen 2 regulations, while the New Generation cars first introduced in 2013 remained eligible to compete.
The following drivers contested the 2018 championship.
The Holden ZB Commodore was homologated, making it eligible to compete in the championship. All existing Holden teams commenced the season with the new car, either new chassis or reskinned VF Commodores. Triple Eight Race Engineering, who oversaw the development and homologation of the ZB chassis were also developing a V6 twin-turbocharged engine for Holden cars ahead of a full introduction in 2019. However, the programme was put on indefinite hold in April 2018. Triple Eight team were proposing to debut the V6 powerplant with a number of wildcard entries, however the discontinuation of the project resulted in this being scrapped.
Britek Motorsport left the championship. Its Racing Entitlements Contract (REC) was leased to Super2 Series team Matt Stone Racing who made their championship début entering an FG X Falcon built by DJR Team Penske. The team switched to competing with a VF Commodore mid-season. Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport (LDM) sold one of its RECs to Prodrive Racing Australia. LDM was rebranded as 23Red Racing after sponsor Phil Munday purchased a 60% stake in the team in the off-season, before taking full ownership in April 2018. The team competed with a Prodrive-built FG X Falcon.
Several teams underwent rebrandings. Prodrive Racing Australia became Tickford Racing after its lease on the Prodrive name expired, while Walkinshaw Racing was rebranded as Walkinshaw Andretti United when Andretti Autosport and United Autosports purchased stakes in the team.
Super2 Series drivers Todd Hazelwood and Anton de Pasquale made their Supercars début. Hazelwood joined Matt Stone Racing—the team he won the 2017 Super2 title with—while De Pasquale replaced Dale Wood at Erebus Motorsport. Wood was one of three drivers to leave the championship, as both Todd Kelly and Jason Bright retired from competition. Andre Heimgartner returned to the championship, replacing the retiring Kelly at Nissan Motorsport, while Richie Stanaway replaced Bright at Tickford Racing.[k]
Will Davison moved from Tekno Autosports to the newly-formed 23Red Racing team. Davison's place at Tekno Autosports was filled by Super2 Series driver Jack Le Brocq. James Moffat left Garry Rogers Motorsport at the end of the 2017 championship and joined Tickford Racing for the Enduro Cup. Moffat's place at Garry Rogers Motorsport was taken by James Golding, who drove for the team in the Enduro Cup in 2016 and 2017.
The calendar was expanded to sixteen events in 2018, with the following events taking place:
The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, which hosted the Supercars Challenge non-championship event between 1996 and 2017,[l] joined the calendar as a championship event for the first time. The event, which was named the Melbourne 400, continued to be run as part of the support bill for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, South Australia, the first permanent circuit to be built in Australia since Queensland Raceway in 1999, hosted an event of the championship. The Bend SuperSprint ran on the 4.9 km "International" configuration of the circuit.
The Melbourne 400 event featured four races. All four were longer than the races that were run as part of the Australian Grand Prix support event in previous years, before it was granted championship status. Two of the races were run at twilight and included mandatory pit stops, while the other two were shorter sprint races run in daylight hours.
Sydney Motorsport Park hosted the Sydney SuperNight 300, which consisted of a single 300 km race held under lights. It was the first night race since the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi hosted the opening event of the 2010 season. The event consisted of two 30 minute practice sessions and a 20-minute qualifying session ahead of a 300 km race. The race included three compulsory pit stops.
The Auckland SuperSprint included a Top 10 Shootout for the Sunday race. A Top 10 Shootout was added to the first race of the Gold Coast 600 after the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport suspended the licence of the Stadium Super Trucks support category on safety grounds, removing the category from the Supercars' support bill.
- A new qualifying format was introduced for the Symmons Plains, Barbagallo and Sydney Motorsport Park events. The system uses three stages similar to the system used in Formula One and was introduced as a response to the shorter layouts of the Symmons Plains and Barbagallo circuits which drew criticism about congestion as drivers on flying laps would encounter slow-moving cars preparing to start their own laps. The system was later added to the Sydney SuperNight 300 after proving popular during its trials at the Symmons Plains and Barbagallo events.
- The "wildcard" programme introduced in 2017, which allowed teams from the Dunlop Super2 Series to compete in the Supercars Championship, continued in 2018. Entries were open for the Winton, Hidden Valley, Ipswich and Tailem Bend events, while the Barbagallo event was discontinued after the 2017 edition failed to attract wildcard entries. The Bathurst 1000 was open to wildcard entries, but was separate to the wildcard programme for Super2 teams. No entries were received for the latter.
- The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) adjusted the eligibility requirements of the licensing system used by the championship. The revised requirements were designed to make it easier for Super2 drivers to qualify for a racing licence.
Results and standings
Points were awarded for each race at an event, to the driver or drivers of a car that completed at least 75% of the race distance and was running at the completion of the race. At least 50% of the planned race distance must be completed for the result to be valid and championship points awarded.
- Standard: Used for all SuperSprint and street races, including the Gold Coast 600.
- Endurance: Used for the Sydney SuperNight 300, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
- Melbourne (long): Used for Race 1 and 3 of the Melbourne 400.
- Melbourne (short): Used for Race 2 and 4 of the Melbourne 400.
Results count toward the Enduro Cup.
– Denotes single-car team
Results count toward the Enduro Cup.
Pirtek Enduro Cup
Bold - Pole position
Champion Manufacturer of the Year
- For points-scoring purposes, Tickford Racing is divided into two teams: one which is made up of car #5 and #55, and another consisting of car #6 and #56.
- Mark Winterbottom raced as number 200 at the Phillip Island 500.
- Cameron Waters raced as number 100 at the Newcastle 500.
- Will Davison raced as number 400 at the Perth SuperSprint and as number 120 at the Ipswich SuperSprint.
- For points-scoring purposes, Triple Eight Race Engineering is divided into two teams: "Red Bull Holden Racing Team", which is made up of cars #1 and #97, and "Autobarn Lowndes Racing", consisting of car #888.
- Tim Blanchard Racing is a satellite team of Brad Jones Racing; Tim Blanchard Racing own the Racing Entitlement Contract for car #21, while Brad Jones Racing runs the car and oversees trackside activities on their behalf.
- Since the Tasmania SuperSprint event, Erebus Motorsport has contested with Erebus Motorsport badges rather than Holden badges. However, the team was still recognised as being a Holden team for the event.
- Lee Holdsworth raced as number 400 at the Winton SuperSprint.
- For points-scoring purposes, Nissan Motorsport is divided into two teams: one which is made up of car #7 and #15, and another consisting of car #23 and #78.
- Rick Kelly and Garry Jacobson raced as number 11 at the Bathurst 1000.
- Jason Bright competed with the Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) he owned under the Britek Motorsport banner, which was operated by Prodrive Racing Australia as a satellite team. Although this REC was leased to Matt Stone Racing, Prodrive replaced it with an REC owned by Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport. Stanaway effectively replaced Bright despite the restructuring of the teams.
- The Supercars Challenge was not held in 2007.
- Race 27 was suspended due to torrential rain and could not be re-started. As less than 50% of the race distance had been completed when the race was abandoned, no points were awarded.
- Shane van Gisbergen was the winner of Race 30, but received a post-race penalty for a pit stop infringement and was reclassified as finishing fifth. Scott McLaughlin was recognised as the eventual race winner.
- "V8 Supercars confirm Virgin as primary backer". Speedcafe. 27 April 2016.
- Adam, Mitchell (25 November 2018). "McLaughlin wins championship, Reynolds takes finale". Supercars.com. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
- "2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Points, www.supercars.com, as archived at web.archive.org". Archived from the original on 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- Adam, Mitchell (4 November 2018). "Triple Eight seals teams' championship". Supercars. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- "HRT brand moves to T8 in new Holden deal". Speedcafe. 16 August 2016.
- "Caruso never threatened for Nissan seat". Speedcafe. 18 September 2016.
- "Within a few years, the Supercars grid will be a very different place". Motoring Magazine. 31 December 2016.
- "Tickford swaps Mostert, Waters in pit lane". Speedcafe. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- Herrero, Dan (19 October 2017). "Autobarn to take over Lowndes car naming rights". Speedcafe. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Herrero, Dan (4 April 2018). "Erebus to run own badges at Symmons Plains". Speedcafe. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
- "Supercars 2018 field takes shape". Speedcafe. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- Howard, Tom (25 January 2018). "Supercars 2018 Entry List". Speedcafe. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
- "New number, name for Walkinshaw Andretti United". Supercars. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
- "Macauley Jones set for Supercars Darwin wildcard run". Speedcafe. 24 May 2018.
- "Kostecki Supercars wildcard start confirmed". Speedcafe. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- "US throwback for Kostescki wildcard". supercars.com. Supercars Championship. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
- Howard, Tom (13 August 2018). "Matt Stone Racing ditches Ford for Holden". speedcafe.com. Speedcafe. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Howard, Tom (13 June 2018). "ENTRY LIST: Pirtek Enduro Cup field set". Speedcafe.
- Howard, Tom (14 December 2017). "BJR undergoing off-season car builds". Speedcafe. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "New Commodore Supercar taking shape". Speedcafe. 27 October 2016.
- "New Holden Commodore unveiled". Speedcafe. 7 December 2016.
- "Transfer of Holden brand has fans all revved up". Sydney Morning Herald. 17 January 2017.
- "Walkinshaw Andretti United reveal new emblem". Speedcafe. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
- "Preston Hire Racing upgrading to ZB". Supercars. 7 December 2017.
- "GRM building two new ZB Commodores for 2018". supercars.com. Supercars Championship. 10 December 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- "Tekno commits to ZB Commodore amid team reshuffle". Speedcafe. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- "Holden teams preparing for ZB Commodore arrival". Speedcafe. 26 September 2017.
- "T8 retains V8 in phased Gen II implementation". Speedcafe. 9 June 2017.
- "Holden suspends V6 turbo development". Speedcafe. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "T8 retains V8 under phased Gen II implementation". Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "Bright: No regrets on Supercars career choices". Speedcafe. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Howard, Tom (30 November 2017). "Hazelwood graduates to Supercars with MSR". Speedcafe. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- Howard, Tom (23 November 2017). "New Supercars squad launched in Newcastle". Speedcafe. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Howard, Tom (19 December 2017). "Prodrive confirms Tickford Racing name change". Speedcafe. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
Tickford Racing will field four Falcon FG-Xs for Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters and new signing Richie Stanaway next year.
- "Andretti, United to Supercars with Walkinshaw". autosport.com. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- Howard, Tom (31 October 2017). "Erebus signs Anton De Pasquale for 2018". Speedcafe. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- "Erebus confirms Dale Wood departure". Speedcafe. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- Howard, Tom (1 December 2017). "Nissan confirms Heimgartner as Kelly replacement". Speedcafe. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- Howard, Tom (6 December 2017). "Stanaway completes Prodrive's 2018 line-up". Speedcafe. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- van Leeuwen, Andrew (21 November 2017). "Jason Bright and Todd Kelly to retire from full-time Supercars". Autosport. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "New 23Red Racing locks in Will Davison". supercars.com. Supercars. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- "Tekno confirms Le Brocq and Burgess for 2018". Speedcafe. 25 January 2018.
- Coch, Mat (11 January 2018). "Tickford Racing signs Moffat for enduros". Speedcafe. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- "GRM confirms Golding for main game seat". Speedcafe. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
- "Supercars reveals 16 event 2018 calendar". speedcafe.com. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
- "Championship status for Albert Park". supercars.com. Supercars. 30 May 2017.
- "Bend Motorsport Park confirms Supercars 2018 slot". speedcafe.com. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- "Supercars set for longer races at AGP in 2018". speedcafe.com. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- "Supercars confirms twilight AGP races". Speedcafe. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- "Sydney night race to join 2018 Supercars calendar". speedcafe.com. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- "Supercars moves to clarify 2018 regulations". Speedcafe. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Extra Top 10 Shootout added to Gold Coast 600". 12 October 2018.
- Herrero, Dan (19 December 2017). "Changes to Supercars qualifying at short circuits". Speedcafe. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- van Leeuwen, Andrew (19 May 2018). "Supercars expands night running for Sydney's SuperNight format". autosport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- Herrero, Dan (13 November 2017). "CAMS adjusts Supercars Superlicence criteria". Speedcafe. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "All the winners from the Supercars Gala Awards, www.supercars.com, as archived at web.archive.org". Archived from the original on 2019-04-05. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
Media related to 2018 Supercars Championship at Wikimedia Commons
- Operations Manual, www.supercars.com, as archived at web.archive.org
- 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Points, www.supercars.com, as archived at web.archive.org
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship - Series Points Report - Final, racing.natsoft.com.au, as archived at web.archive.org
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship - Teams Points Report, racing.natsoft.com.au, as archived at web.archive.org
- Pirtek Enduro Cup Points, www.supercars.com, as archived at web.archive.org