Changes are on the horizon in Australia's beloved touring car series.
New manufacturers and more international attention is great, but will it really work as planned?
From the announcement that Ford will be departing from V8 Supercars to the release of the 2017 Gen2 regulations, it’s been an active week in the land down under. With the former still fresh on everyone’s mind, it seemed fairly appropriate when the powers-that-be released the 2017 Gen2 regulations.
What does this mean?
In a nutshell, the new regulations will open the category to different engine types (4-cylinder Turbo and V6 Turbo) as well as different body configurations such as two-door sports cars.
The ‘DNA’ of the sport will remain the same, however, with the mandated rear-wheel drive, COTF chassis and 4-seat configuration set to continue. The following is a new ad (and logo) for the 2015 season.
The V8 Supercars which we see today are the first phase of implementation in the Gen2 package. This phase opened up the field to new manufacturers such as Mercedes, Nissan and Volvo to race alongside the well-established Ford and Holden rivalry. The first phase has been relatively successful with all five manufacturers enjoying the tastes of victory.
The new regulations have been created to bring in more manufacturers, more international race teams, more sponsors and more fans while maintaining the V8 Supercars legacy of providing fans with the ultimate racing experience.
Given a choice
As V8 Supercars CEO, James Warburton, put it, “It is imperative to keep the sport relevant to the current environment, entertaining and, critically, viable for the race teams.
The current climate in world motorsport is absolutely clear,” said Warburton. “Manufacturers want choice in what they go racing with, otherwise they won’t participate. They want their DNA represented and so do we. We will not compromise our DNA – fast, loud and fierce racing.”
The new regulations were passed unanimously by the V8 Supercars’ Board and many drivers and manufacturers alike are already looking forward to the possibilities.
One thing that many are keen on knowing, however, is how all of this will work. While reading the new information, a word which was tossed around quite a bit was ‘parity’.
Parity is imperative
According to Webster, ‘parity’ is “the quality or state of being equal or equivalent”. What this effectively means is that the V8 Supercars will turn into an engineer’s dream. Imagine seeing our powerful V8s being passed by a 4-cylinder sports car!
On paper, this is one of the greatest things to happen to the series. With these new rules, V8 Supercars has the possibility to bring in more manufacturers, more international teams and represent itself as an international category and not strictly Australian.
Currently, all cars have a 5.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 with 635 bhp. All cars weight the same and are similar in almost every fashion. However, if you remember back to when Nissan and Mercedes first released their cars, the teams constantly complained about the lack of power and fuel economy. During the initial test days, Lee Holdsworth was shocked about how far behind the Mercedes’ were in power compared to the rest of the field. Although both teams have been to the top step of the podium since release, neither has yet been able to consistently go punch for punch with Holden or Ford to this day.
‘Parity’ was tossed around then as well but from the initial results, it was anything but. How then will the parity system work for these new engines?
All about the fans
All in all, this writer is mostly excited for the changes but sees many obstacles ahead. First and foremost is the fans. Will they accept these new changes to their beloved series especially after the recent announcement that Ford is withdrawing? Or will they see it as a last ditch effort to save the series from downfall?
Many have stated that as long as the racing is close, they would welcome the changes. In closing, this writer would be remised to remind readers that although there will always be close racing going on in the front of the field, these new regulations may guarantee that there will be even more going on in the back of the field.