Uncertainty over Supercars engine supply

There is uncertainty around the future of in-house engine programmes in Supercars ahead of the introduction of the Gen3 ruleset.

Uncertainty over Supercars engine supply
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Under the existing regulations teams are free to buy, lease or build homologated V8 engines, with a mix of specialist builders and in-house programmes powering the field.

KRE Race Engines supplies units to the likes of Triple Eight and Brad Jones Racing, while Mostech Race Engines has an exclusive deal with Dick Johnson Racing.

Tickford Racing, Kelly Grove Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United all have in-house engine shops that provide motors for both their own teams and a number of customers across Supercars and Super2. That includes a customer deal between WAU and fellow Holden squad Erebus Motorsport.

However there are question marks over the future of engine supply beyond the current season.

According to Supercars, dyno testing on the new-spec Chevrolet and Ford V8s, based on cost-effective crate motors, has already started. It's widely rumoured, but not confirmed, that the engine partners of homologation teams T8 (KRE) and DJR (Mostech) have built the prototype units under development.

That's left teams running in-house engine shops uncertain if they'll be able to continue to build their own engines next season, or if there will be a single control engine supplier per manufacturer.

That there's been no tender for engine supply issued by Supercars has raised further questions from teams, given testing is already underway and KRE and Mostech appear to have been engaged. 

When asked by Motorsport.com if he expects KGR to have a main game engine programme next season co-owner Todd Kelly said: "It doesn't look like it. In saying that, I haven't been told anything official from anyone.

"As far as I understand it someone is building the engines, and there's been no tender, nothing. We would have potentially been a position to tender for the Ford side.

"We haven't really had any direct dialogue on the actual engine or anything like that. Who do we get it off? Ford? A supplier? Supercars?

"Someone has obviously got it under control somewhere. Because I'm guessing there's a heap of engines that will be dished out at the end of the year. It's a big job. But there's not been much communication at all for what we're responsible for. Things like ducting, does it come with a wiring loom, all that stuff.

"All we know is that it's happening. But not how it's happening."

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WAU team principal Bruce Stewart said that the current lack of clarity over engine supply and in-house programmes is disconcerting for his team.

"I believe that Supercars engines is clearly a topic that’s currently a little disconcerting for teams in the industry who have invested a lot of significant time, money, resource and passion into Supercars engine programmes," he told Motorsport.com.

"We understand that the sport will be trying to reduce the costs and challenges out of the engines, which is a very good thing. However engine programmes are a big part of the category's DNA. And they certainly are a strong part of the Walkinshaw DNA.

"Don't get me wrong, we absolutely want to the Gen3 programme to go ahead. It brings a new level of excitement and creates a new energy around Supercars. But, where possible, we don't want to leave valued parts of our DNA and team behind. Currently, there is some uncertainty about that.

"I haven't seen a tender come around. We have a lot of people in our business who are nervous and worried about it, and I completely understand. Not knowing creates tension. There are other engine builders in the business who I imagine might be asking the same questions."

Regardless of the outcome none of the affected teams are looking at shutting down their current programmes entirely, with Super2, which will continue to use the existing engines, likely to keep the doors open in some capacity.

"Our intention is to keep the engine programme going, although we don't know what the scale of it will be," said Tickford boss Tim Edwards. "We have our own Super2 programme and other Super2 customers so it makes sense for it to stay open."

Kelly added: "We'll keep our engine shop going. We're doing Ford engines and all the Nissan engines [in Super2], so we've got a handful of other customers."

Stewart, meanwhile, said WAU may even look beyond motorsport should it not be building main game Supercars engines anymore.

"It means that we're trying to understand what other opportunities are there," he added. "Whether that's in Super 2 and/or in manufacturer land."

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