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Waters tips van Gisbergen, Mostert as Supercars title rivals

Waters will head into the 2022 season as one of the genuine title contenders, despite a somewhat inconsistent 2021 campaign.

The Tickford ace took three wins and didn’t finish a race outside the Top 10, DNFs aside, until the seventh of 12 rounds.

However a power steering issue in the opening race of the season was an early blow for his title hopes, while a difficult month-long stay at Sydney Motorsport Park meant he finished the year just fifth in the points.

Confident that an even better shot at the title is on the table this season, Waters has set his sights on who he will need to beat.

He reckons reigning champion van Gisbergen and Bathurst 1000 winner Mostert are the stand-out favourites.

He says Dick Johnson Racing driver Anton De Pasquale could be an outside chance, but will need to find some consistency, while Erebus pair Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki, who enjoyed good form in Sydney last year, aren’t quite ready for a full title tilt.

“Shane will be up there. Chaz will definitely be competitive, I think [Walkinshaw Andretti United is] going to step it up again this year,” Waters told the Castrol Motorsport News podcast.

“I would put Shane and Chaz as the main competition at the moment.

“DJR, they are probably still a little bit up and down. Last year they were up and down at times, but definitely have their tracks they are super strong at. To me they need to fix that, kind of like us, with our tracks we were up and down at.

“So [van Gisbergen and Mostert] are the main two. Plus maybe Anton. The Erebus guys are probably still a little bit young. They have been pumped up a little bit after the SMP form they had. But they will keep improving as well.

“It’s going to be a tough year, for sure. There are six guys that can have a shot at it, but there’s probably two or three, maybe four, realistically that can get it.”

Reflecting on his 2021 campaign, Waters argues that being forced to race at SMP – a track that clearly didn’t suit the Tickford Mustangs – four weekends in a row made his season look worse than it was.

However he also admits that consistency is something Tickford needs to improve if he’s to challenge for the title this year.

“It was a little disappointing in the end, but we were probably the second best car for a lot of the year until we went to SMP,” he said.

“We had a bit of bad luck through the year which put us on the back foot. But we were the second best car until SMP, and then everybody wrote us off after SMP.

“We weren’t ready, to be honest, to go after a title, to be consistent at every single track. That’s something we’ve focused on in the off-season.

“Hopefully we’ve ticked a few of those boxes and we can be strong at every single track and not just Tickford’s strong tracks.”

With the season opener back at SMP this weekend, Waters says he won’t have to wait long to find out if he’ll be a true contender this year or not.

“I definitely feel more confident. We’ve had a good off-season, we had a good test day, and that answered a few of our questions that we had, why we struggled at SMP,” he said.

“We have to go there and see if we have turned that corner or not. If we have, then we’re definitely in for a good shot this year.”

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