THEY’RE young, they’re confident and they don’t give a damn about the pedigree of legends they’ll be racing against in the 2018 Virgin Supercars Championship.
Once they get into that car everyone else on the track is just another driver.
Meet the next generation of Supercars talent, a bumper crop of five hotshot drivers unveiled at the season launch in Sydney today.
Todd Hazelwood, Anton de Pasquale, Jack Le Brocq, James Golding and Richie Stanaway will all make the leap to full-time Supercars drivers in 2018 in what many have touted as a changing of the guard.
The addition of the five rookies, aged between just 22 and 26 years old, means when all 26 Supercars drivers line up on the grid for the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in just two weeks half the vehicles will be manned by drivers under the age of 30.
Each of the new rookies listed seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup and three-time champion Craig Lowndes among their idols.
But when asked how they’d handle the pressure of going bumper-to-bumper with their heroes the new kids on the block didn’t hesitate.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a seven-time champion or you’re a rookie, when you’re in the heat of the battle it’s gloves off and you try as hard as you can to make it happen,” Hazelwood said.
“We’re all here to race, we all want to win and we all want to be on the top step of that podium.”
De Pasquale doesn’t just idolise Whincup. He dreams of knocking the 35-year-old veteran over.
“Beating someone like Jamie Whincup would be the best feeling in the world,” de Pasquale said.
“Once you’re out there the door is closed, the helmet’s on and it doesn’t matter who the drivers are … they’re just cars to beat and cars you want to beat.”
Le Brocq said he’d love nothing more than to beat the “old blokes”.
“It’s a dream come true to get the opportunity to race against guys I’ve watched all my life,” Le Brocq said.
“When you get out on the track it’s just another bloke, another car and it doesn’t matter who they are.
“You’re just going to treat them like an old bloke and race as hard as you can.”
Cockiness aside, each of the 2018 Supercars rookies will simply be looking to perform well and avoid the fate of 2017 rookie Alex Rullo.
The then 16-year-old Rullo made his debut with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport as the youngest driver in the championship’s history.
But after a mixed year, which saw the teenager achieve a best race result of 15th at Bathurst, Rullo, now 17, will return to the Dunlop Super2 Series where he debuted in 2016.
Perhaps the most exciting rookie of the 2018 bunch will be 22-year-old Hazelwood.
The South Australian product lifted the championship trophy in last year’s Super2 Series with six wins and joins the 2018 Supercars circuit with Matt Stone Racing.
The 2018 Supercars Championship begins with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 1-4.