Ingall: New breed set to rip it up in Supercars
THE 2018 season presents a changing of the guard in Supercars.
Unfortunately a lot of drivers exited the championship last year.
But in turn, we've now seen the emergence of a number of rising stars.
The most I've ever seen flood into the category.
Jason Bright, James Moffat and Todd Kelly either retired or lost their drives.
It leaves Garth Tander, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup as the elder statesmen.
All of a sudden those guys are going to be feeling pretty old.
Standing there in the photo on the grid in Adelaide - like they do the beginning-of-the-year school photo - it's going to be feel like a kindergarten around them.
You just get to a stage where you get older and you - or someone else - have to decide whether to keep plugging away or make way for the newcomers.
A lot of young drivers have jumped up and got good seats.
Todd Hazelwood won the Super 2 championship last year, and along with his team Matt Stone Racing, has now stepped up into the main game.
I won my championship with the Stone Brothers, Ross and Jimmy, in 2005.
And now Hazelwood and Jimmy's son Matt will look to emulate that feat.
Hazelwood is very unassuming - looks like a computer nerd.
But, from all reports, he is the real deal.
James Golding got the sought-after gig at Gary Rogers Motorsport.
He actually works for Gary in the workshop during the week as a mechanic.
Gary rates him.
Also sought after was the second drive at Erebus, alongside David Reynolds.
It goes to Anton De Pasquale, who's had a couple of good years in Super 2.
He also did the Europe thing, drove for Renault.
Where the guys are going to find it hard is when it gets into the heat of battle.
It's a big step up in aggression.
They are going to get beaten around the ears something fierce by the regular drivers.
You look at an experienced driver like Simona de Silvestro, who has raced Indy Car, and it was only towards the end of last year that she pushed back.
"If I'm going to make a success of this I've got to get aggressive," was her approach.
And she did in Newcastle where she was on fire.
There's a lot of intimidation. There's no niceties here.
It's like being in the schoolyard. You've got to mark your territory.
If one or two of the new drivers is in front of them, experienced drivers know they can exploit that.
They know if they lean on their bumper bar, give them a few taps, give them a hard time, nine out of 10 times they are going to give in.
Until they get brave enough.
Richie Stanaway should be.
He has gotten a full-time gig at Tickford Racing, and will adapt well.
He's run GP2 races in Europe, in sports cars for Aston Martin.
He's a serious racer, and probably tougher than half of the regular drivers.
While still young, but a little further advanced, Scott McLaughlin is the man to beat.
Sixteen pole positions, eight wins in 2017. That was ridiculous in a 14-meet championship.
You look at it and go, how does he not win the title?
After his first real run at the championship with DJR Team Penske, he's going to come back into it this year with all that experience.
He's doing all the right things.
I'm glad to see he did the 12-hour at Bathurst as well. Not for any other reason than to get laps.
It still surprises me that some of the drivers don't do that drive.
That's 12 hours of racing plus practice.
It's a really good load going into the first race.
McLaughlin drove the Maclaren and drove it well.
All of a sudden he's done more racing than three quarters of the field.
He will go into it full pelt. He's going to be hard to stop.
For all the talk about the new breed, Jamie Whincup, 35, showed last year there is still life in some old dogs.
He won the championship for the seventh time with just four race wins. That's an old head showing that consistency is important.
Whincup still has plenty of good years left in him too.
It's going to be a good fight.