With the departure of Scott McLaughlin off the back of a dominant three-year spell, the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship was perfectly poised for a change of guard.
Indeed, it was Triple Eight Race Engineering who dominated proceedings, although there were some standout performers, perhaps pointing towards what's to come in 2022.
In this story, Speedcafe.com looks at the best performers from the 2021 season.
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10) Tim Slade – Blanchard Racing Team
Championship finish: 12th
Highlight: 14 top 10 finishes
Tim Slade's return to the Supercars grid couldn't have started in much more dramatic circumstances at Mount Panorama.
A surprise front-row starter in the Blanchard Racing Team's first race, Slade was looking at a podium from the outset. As was well documented, that didn't transpire.
Off the back of that mammoth crash that sidelined Slade in the opening two races of the season, the #3 pilot put in solid performances week-in, week-out thereafter.
A highlight of the year was the team's willingness to gamble on strategy, which often put the CoolDrive Auto Parts-backed entry firmly inside the top 10.
In the end, Slade would muster a commendable 12th in the drivers' championship – a solid result considering he left The Mountain without any points to his credit.
9) Nick Percat – Brad Jones Racing
Championship finish: 7th
Highlight: 2 podiums, 1 pole
Nick Percat was solid if unspectacular in 2021 for Brad Jones Racing.
For the second year in a row, the South Australian finished seventh in the championship – about as good as it gets given the level of competition this year.
Percat was unlucky not to have a crack at converting pole position at Sydney Motorsport Park into a win when rain ultimately put paid to the last race of the four-part swing.
A move to Walkinshaw Andretti United bodes well for 2022.
8) Brodie Kostecki – Erebus Motorsport
Championship finish: 9th
Highlight: Sandown, Bathurst podiums
Many wondered what Erebus Motorsport might do in 2021 after its capable quartet of David Reynolds/Alistair McVean/Anton De Pasquale/Mirko De Rosa all departed company.
We didn't have to wait long to find out when Kostecki put in a storming drive to finish second in the wet at Sandown in only his fifth race as a full-timer.
Kostecki held sway over team-mate Will Brown in the early going but faded in Darwin and Townsville.
Nevertheless, a podium at Sydney Motorsport Park and his best drive to date in the Bathurst 1000, where he netted third with David Russell, were standouts.
7) Will Davison – Dick Johnson Racing
Championship finish: 4th
Highlight: 10 podiums
Will Davison can be disappointed he didn't win on his return to full-time Supercars competition.
An almost assured win went begging at Sydney Motorsport Park for the Dick Johnson Racing driver when electrical gremlins handed victory to Shane van Gisbergen.
With a finish of fourth in the drivers' championship, it may seem harsh to have Davison this far down the list.
Ultimately, it was a solid if unspectacular campaign that promised a lot for the #17 driver, especially considering Davison's early 2020 form and being given the tools to win in 2021.
6) Will Brown – Erebus Motorsport
Championship finish: 8th
Highlight: First Supercars win
While Will Brown didn't fire as quickly as team-mate Brodie Kostecki, the youngster came good soon enough.
A crash in practice at the season-opening Mount Panorama 500 did very little to shake the Toowoomba pilot, and by the third event of 2021 he had his first solo top five finish.
Brown only got better and by the four-part Sydney swing was showing all the makings of being Supercars' next big thing.
He cemented that status, winning in the third-to-last race. A win might've come earlier if not for Erebus Motorsport's perennial pit stop problems.
Expect to see Brown on the podium regularly throughout 2022.
5) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight Race Engineering
Championship finish: 2nd
Highlights: 2 wins
By no means was Jamie Whincup's final Supercars season as a full-timer bad, it just wasn't good enough.
The seven-time champion was soundly beaten by his team-mate Shane van Gisbergen throughout the year.
Despite finishing runner-up to van Gisbergen, Whincup was only twice a race winner – his least successful year as far as wins go since his first with Triple Eight in 2006.
There were signs throughout the year that the fire still burned strong, he and van Gisbergen notably coming to loggerheads in Townsville and near the end of his tenure at Sydney.
No one would begrudge Whincup if he suddenly decided to un-retire.
4) Cameron Waters – Tickford Racing
Championship finish: 5th
Highlight: Race 19 win
In the early going it looked as if Cameron Waters might be a thorn in Shane van Gisbergen's side.
Off the back of a strong end to 2020, the #6 Ford Mustang pilot was touted among the title favourites for 2021.
Waters was there or thereabouts throughout the year, his first Supercars of the year win finally coming at The Bend after twice claiming pole positions beforehand.
His Race 19 win on the streets of Townsville which featured a sterling defensive drive where he beat van Gisbergen at his own game, was the real highlights in a year where Tickford Racing struggled for set-up stability.
The Sydney swing hurt Waters, who entered the run of four events at the same circuit third in the drivers' championship.
In the end, Waters was fifth, a result not entirely indicative of his outright pace. A COVID-less 2022 would do wonders for Waters.
3) Anton De Pasquale – Dick Johnson Racing
Championship finish: 6th
Highlights: 11 pole positions
Expectations of Anton De Pasquale heading into his first season at Dick Johnson Racing were high, perhaps disproportionately so.
Fresh from his third season at Erebus Motorsport, De Pasquale often found himself compared to his predecessor Scott McLaughlin.
Did pressure play a part? A DNF in the opening race through an error on the 26-year-old's part set the tone of a season which only really hit its stride late in the piece.
The seemingly infallible team stuttered early. An engine failure, something almost unheard of in DJR land, brought about De Pasquale's second DNF at Sandown.
Another would come at The Bend, just hours after scoring his first win with the team.
It was a rocky ride up until Sydney where De Pasquale really hit his stride, topping 22 of 32 sessions in the four-event run.
Although the lion's share of his success came in Sydney, it's perhaps a taste of what might come in 2022.
2) Chaz Mostert – Walkinshaw Andretti United
Championship finish: 3rd
Highlight: Bathurst 1000 win
If not the championship, then winning the Bathurst 1000 is the next best thing in Supercars.
Mostert capped off a solid second season with Walkinshaw Andretti United with victory in the Great Race and third in the drivers' championship.
Although only twice a race winner in 2021, Mostert was consistently in the mix for podiums.
Finishes inside the top five, but not on the podium, totalled seven for Mostert this year. That really summed up his season – there or thereabouts on the fringe of the fight up the front.
If van Gisbergen's conclusion to the 2020 season is anything to go by, then Mostert should be one to watch in 2022.
1) Shane van Gisbergen – Triple Eight Race Engineering
Championship finish: 1st
Highlight: 14 wins
There's not a lot that needs to be said about Shane van Gisbergen's all-dominant championship win.
A total of 14 wins plus nine second or third place finishes from 31 races paints a clear picture that 2021 was all about the Kiwi.
It all started with his 2020 Bathurst 1000 win alongside Garth Tander, momentum which he took across the ditch where he would win on home soil in rally and single-seater competition.
Van Gisbergen set the tone with six straight wins across Mount Panorama, Sandown, and Symmons Plains.
Undoubtedly, that win from 17th on the grid at Sandown fresh from breaking his collarbone and ribs was the standout performance of the year.
If that couldn't stop him, no one would. Indeed, van Gisbergen would walk away with the championship, winning it with a round to spare.