Van Gisbergen still the hunted in Supercars' new era

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, and a new Supercars Championship season is ready to get underway in Newcastle, where Ford Mustangs will face Chevrolet Camaros as a fresh era begins for the sport.

Drivers are buzzing yet sceptical. They are raring to see how months of planning and simulations will shape their 2023 championship aspirations, with Holden out the door and American makes throughout the field.

One question, though, remains the same: Can anyone catch Shane van Gisbergen?

Triple Eight Racing's New Zealand juggernaut is coming off the most successful season in Australian touring cars and Supercars history.

His 21 race wins in 2022, including a Bathurst 1000 triumph alongside veteran racer-turned-broadcaster Garth Tander, marked the highest-ever season total - eclipsing Scott McLaughlin's 18 victories in 2019.

SVG began the season on a tear, winning seven of the opening 10 rounds before a sensational run of form starting mid-year in Townsville brought him victories in 12 of the season's final 16 races.

He wrapped up back-to-back Supercars championships with dual-crowns on the Gold Coast with a round to spare, beating second-placed Cameron Waters by 615 points on the final ladder.

The title secured, his teammate Broc Feeney ensured Holden finished their Supercars era with a win in Adelaide to end 2022.

Ahead of Newcastle's season-opener - the city's fourth 500 event - Van Gisbergen has history on his side as he begins the pursuit of a fourth career championship.

His Triple Eight Racing team has won 15 of the last 17 season-opening races and three of the six 250km endurance runs around Newcastle's streets.

But drivers are venturing into unknown territory this weekend, with new setups, cars being rebuilt and nine members of the grid starting in Newcastle for the first time.

Last season's runner-up Waters says his Tickford Racing team have the benefit of multiple cars in the field.

"Testing was rushed but it was rushed for everyone," he told AAP.

"We learned a lot through testing and tried lots of different things.

"The beauty of our team is we've got four cars and a bit more data to look at, and more opportunities to try a few things."

One noticeable difference is the amount of downforce each car can generate with a lighter body, Waters said.

The 28-year-old noticed less downforce in testing, adding to the chances of porpoising on high-speed corners and increasing the pressure on braking systems.

That in turn leads to higher tyre-degradation, and how teams adapt will be of particular focus as the season unfolds.

Waters led the standings with 10 pole positions in 2022 but could only translate three of those into race wins.

His aspirations have not wavered, although he expects a tight field at the top.

"I'm after the championship and a Bathurst win," he said.

"I came second last year, and a few times now, so it's time to try and get that number one.

"The new cars are definitely going to spice it up and you'll probably see people up there you're not really used to, and you'll see a bit more inconsistency through the year.

"Shane's fast - he always is - but there will be a few other people up at the front as well."