DRIVERS TO WATCH IN THIS YEAR'S SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP:
* JAMIE WHINCUP (HOLDEN):
Championship best: Winner (2008-09, 11-14, 17)
After two years watching rival Mark Winterbottom and Red Bull Racing teammate Shane Van Gisbergen claim the Supercars title, Whincup snatched his seventh championship in dramatic fashion at last year's Newcastle finale. The 35-year-old is the most-successful racer in modern Supercars history and remains the man to beat.
* SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (FORD):
Championship best: Second (2017)
McLaughlin's transition to a genuine championship challenger came in his first season at DJR Team Penske. Unstoppable pace led to a record 16 pole positions but his championship dream fell apart in a disastrous final round. How the talented New Zealander bounces back will be the big question in the early rounds of this year's championship.
* SHANE VAN GISBERGEN (HOLDEN):
Championship best: Winner (2016)
The Red Bull Racing star started his title defence with a commanding double-victory last year in Adelaide, but struggled to keep pace with teammate Whincup and McLaughlin. Van Gisbergen eventually finished fourth on the standings and will be aiming to charge back to top in 2018.
* FABIAN COULTHARD (FORD):
Championship best: Third (2017)
Flew out of the blocks to start a bumper 2017 for DJR Team Penske, going on to claim a career-high four race wins for the season and stay in title contention right until the end. After being eclipsed by teammate McLaughlin towards the latter stages, the question in 2018 is whether last year was a one-off for Coulthard or if he can repeat that form and be a title challenger once more.
* CHAZ MOSTERT (FORD):
Championship best: Fifth (2017)
Mostert's recovery from a broken leg, suffered at the 2015 Bathurst 1000, was completed in 2017 as the Ford flier picked up three race wins and a career-best fifth in the championship standings. Back to his best and hopeful of leading Tickford Racing's four-car challenge in 2018, Mostert will be a driver to watch this year.
* MARK WINTERBOTTOM (FORD):
Championship best: Winner (2015)
The Ford veteran struggled for pace in 2017, failing to win a race all season as younger teammates Mostert and Cam Waters, as well as DJR Team Penske pair McLaughlin and Coulthard, threatened to usurp his long-held position as the Blue Oval's main title contender. Needs to rediscover his winning ways in 2018 as Supercars' generation next come at the 36-year-old.
* DAVID REYNOLDS (HOLDEN):
Championship best: Third (2015)
Eccentric but talented, Reynolds delivered a shock Bathurst 1000 win for Erebus Motorsport in 2017 and continues to supply unexpected results for Betty Klimenko's team. Seems to have found a home at Erebus after struggling with the responsibility of being a driver at a big team like Prodrive Racing Australia. Probably won't have the consistency for a title challenge but capable of mixing it with the leaders on his day.
* CAM WATERS (FORD):
Championship best: Eighth (2017)
Last year was a breakthrough season for Waters, a driver who has always been rated a star in the making. Won the Sandown 500 and achieved a top-10 finish in the championship for the first time. The onus will be on the 23-year-old turning promise into consistency and becoming a top-five championship driver.
* JAMES COURTNEY (HOLDEN):
Championship best: Winner (2010)
After delivering six race wins since his big-money move to the then-Holden Racing Team in 2011, it's a case of now or never for 2010 champion Courtney. After years of struggle, the former factory Holden squad has brought in new international partners Andretti Autosport and United Autosports to become Walkinshaw Andretti Autosport in 2018. Courtney is the man charged with ensuring the new venture returns to the sport's pinnacle.
* RICHIE STANAWAY (FORD):
Championship best: 28th (2017)
Stanaway makes the step up from co-driver to full-time driver in 2018 and a lot is expected of this highly rated New Zealander. The 26-year-old won last year's Sandown 500 alongside teammate Cam Waters and was one of the most-impressive co-drivers in 2017. One of five rookies embarking on their maiden full-time campaigns this year, Stanaway looks the most likely of the new crop to make an instant impact.