Fans of the Supercars will be wetting their lips in anticipation of this weekend's third round at Phillip Island, near Melbourne.

It has been a while since two teams have consistently gone head-to-head against each other with all four drivers sitting at the top of the table.

Gone are the days where it was pretty much a shoo-in for a Red Bull Racing Australia (now Red Bull Holden Racing [RBH]) car to be on the podium.

The new kid on the block - well technically not new - DJR Team Penske (now Shell V-Power Racing [SVPR]) has taken the start of the 2017 season by the scruff of the neck and given it a good shake.


Sure, RBH's Shane van Gisbergen leads the title race, but of late he hasn't had it all his own way.

A resurgent fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard out of the SVPR stable is a man on fire blazing his way at the front of the field.

What makes it even more interesting, and probably a bit depressing for the rest of the field, is Van Gisbergen and Coulthard's teammates, Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin, are also regularly at the pointy end of the field.

From a New Zealand perspective, having the three Kiwis in the field inside the top four is marvellous.

However, a lot of the kudos, especially at SVPR, for their success so far has to go to team principal Ryan Story.

Dick Johnson Racing has been around for a long time and had great success for a relatively small outfit.

Story came on board in 2012 and was instrumental in getting Team Penske to partner up.

Last year the team struggled at times for consistency and whatever they did in the off season has paid off.

"These things are never straight forward," Ryan told the Weekend Herald. "We came into this season having spent a significant portion of last year trying to be somewhat more self sufficient in terms of manufacturing.

"There were a lot of things in the pipeline heading into this season so we were confident we would go better.

"A lot of the credit has to go to the people we already had here, but also how much Ludo Lacroix [engineer] has brought to the team with his tremendous experience.

"It has been a tough two years and to now see the success happening is a credit to the extraordinary amount of work done by a whole lot of people."

Pairing two New Zealand drivers in the same team could have ended in tears but it has turned out to be an inspired decision. Coulthard and McLaughlin are feeding of each other's success, as witnessed by McLaughlin's evident glee in congratulating Coulthard at Symmons Plains after finishing second to him.

"We take the New Zealand thing pretty seriously and we obviously have two Kiwis drivers and a lot of Kiwi fans," said Story.

We try our hardest to keep the sport in the hearts and minds of the Kiwi fans.

"The important thing to the team's success is having two drivers who have great camaraderie and who are really strong team players and whose sole focus and energy is taking the whole team forward," he said.

Motorsport is rife with egos the size of small houses and there is no exception whether you're a driver, engineer, mechanic or team owner.

Many a great team has come unstuck through infighting and mistrust. Of course there needs to be a hierarchal structure and lot depends on how you go about managing the organisational structure to ensure success.

"You can't ever dismiss the morale of a place. Good, competent, strong people with good direction will achieve great things and that's what we're now seeing.

"We're not fooling ourselves either. We're not top of the pops by any means. We're still pretenders to Triple Eight's crown at the moment, but we're working really, really hard to get there," said Story.

Last year at Adelaide SVPR were competitive but couldn't turn that speed into something close to being a regular feature.

During the year there were fleeting glances of what could be, but nothing concrete over an extended period of time.

"We showed glimpses of what we could do last year. It's only been this year we now have the team, the personnel, processes and the drivers in place that we have been able to turn our form around.

"You have to have faith in the team you have and have confidence in what they do. We are a very young team with young talent and it took a bit of time for everyone to understand each other and the Penske way.

"We [this season] have exceeded all our expectations and we didn't envisage having so much success so early on. The task now is to continue to roll out fast cars at every circuit we go to and hope to continue to get consistent results," Story said.

It's not really neurosurgery. Story has now got the right people in the right positions, backing them to the hilt and giving them the tools to do their jobs properly.

Supercars points

After two rounds

Shane van Gisbergen 384
Fabian Coulthard 364
Jamie Whincup 330
Scott McLaughlin 330
Cameron Waters 312
Chaz Mostert 309
Craig Lowndes 288
James Courtney 249