Bold new world begins for V8 Supercars

By Robert Grant,

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    The V8 Supercar revolution which roars into life at the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide this weekend is a step into the future which will stretch well beyond contemporary engineering and thundering powerplants.

    The inaugural season of the Car of the Future concept will set the groundwork for a new fan base and almost certainly bring what was essentially a domestic category to world attention.

    While the Bathurst 1000 is one of the world’s most widely known touring car endurance races, the two local rival brands, Commodore and Falcon, are largely unheard of overseas.

    From 2011, the title ‘international’ was added to the V8 Supercars championship but, from now on, it is likely to be more than just a hollow honorific.

    New makers Mercedes Benz and Nissan join the Commodores and Falcons under the new rules, which will open up pit lane for more varied marquees to follow.

    In turn will come a new supporter base and more overseas interest with parity rules for all cars primed to provide one of the world’s great tin-top tussles.

    Traditionally, Holdens and Falcons have been backed by evenly divided and staunchly working-class crowds.

    And they infamously joined together as one to jeer at the Bathurst podium in 1992 when the pre-Supercar series race was won by a Nissan GT-R driven by Jim Richards, leaving the Ford and Holden fans fuming.

    “You’re a pack of arseholes,” was Richards’ succinct response into the microphone.

    Hopefully, Nissan Altima drivers Todd and Rick Kelly, along with the second car of Michael Caruso and James Moffat, won’t be subjected to the same reaction if they win this year.

    What the response will be if the second new entry, a Mercedes Benz E63 AMG from Erebus Racing, is victorious can only be imagined.

    The Nissan is in the same buyer demography range as Holdens and Fords but the up-market Mercedes is not the average Supercar fan’s vehicle of choice.

    Nevertheless, the Altima and the E63 are the groundbreakers here, opening the way for possible other makers like Chrysler and Toyota to join in.

    Erebus Racing, which was Stone Brothers Racing, is owned by flamboyant, tattooed property magnate Betty Klimenko, who has had the cars built in Germany as customer racers.

    The outfit was given a boost recently when an Erebus SLS sports car won the tough 12-hour enduro at Bathurst, so it’s clear she is not in it just for fun.

    Nissan Motorsport was developed from Rick and Todd Kelly’s own team and was a secret project to start with, gaining full factory backing as Japan became more and more impressed with the Kellys’ business plan.

    Despite the limits and the theoretical mechanical equality, money continues to rule in all forms of motorsport.

    That means that the strong will stay strong so there is no reason to believe that the experienced factory teams will not dominate, even if it is through the best team personnel rather than outright cash.

    Jamie Whincup has won four of the past five V8 Supercars championships for Triple Eight Racing, now renamed Red Bull, the eponymous insignia of motor racing worldwide. His teammate Craig Lowndes was second last year.

    Ford Performance Racing, featuring Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison, are desperate to break their grip, while the Holden Racing Team of Garth Tander and James Courtney are working to ensure they can revive their glories of a decade ago.

    Along with the mechanical changes come a raft of new formats and rules.

    Prime among these will be the 60-60 super sprints for six events where there will be no mid-race refuelling.

    Instead, the field will compete in four sprint races over the weekend.

    On Saturdays, there will be two 60km races, split by a 15-minute break. Qualifying will determine the grid for the first half, while results from that sprint will dictate the line-up for the second race.

    On Sundays, teams will compete in two 120km races.

    The new format will apply to the Tasmania 360, Perth 360, the Darwin Triple Crown, the Ipswich 360, Winton 360 and the Phillip Island 400.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • March 1st 2013 @ 5:55pm
      walter said | March 1st 2013 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

      Stop talking about stoner its about v8,s and all drivers not the other!!!!

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 11:34pm
      rgmerk said | March 3rd 2013 @ 11:34pm | ! Report

      The racing seemed like it was pretty good over the weekend; the cars look far smoother (and faster) through the corners.

      And, in theory, it’s nice to have a couple of new brands to cheer for.

      But Car of the Future also represents the final step in the NASCARization of domestic racing. The cars, whatever the bodyshell implies, are all designed to behave identically in aerodynamic terms, and have engines regulated to the same power levels. While there is technical diversity between the brands in terms of engine technology, that technical diversity is regulated into insignificance.

      It may as well be a one-make series, and the cars, like their post-91 V8 Supercar predecessors, are in many key ways far less advanced technologically than road cars to allow driving talent to take precedence and keep costs under control.

      But if there’s no actual technical competition, it’s hard to give a toss what fiberglass panels the teams are strapping over the identical frames.

      I’d be just as happy if they raced Aussie Racing Cars (an amateur racing formula with a custom miniaturized chassis, a large motorcycle engine and bodies that look like caricatures of V8 supercars); it’d be a fifth the cost and just as entertaining.

    • March 5th 2013 @ 6:01pm
      Kelsey T said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

      Being a part of clipsal and being involved in the action really opened up my eyes to a few things.

      All the cars are new in this series.
      Mercedes (erebus) and Nissian (Kelly brothers) seem as though they are going to have a little more trouble getting their cars up there unlike the Holden’s and Ford’s.
      The Kelly brothers essentially did not get to test run there cars before the opening event of the V8 supercars (Clipsal 500) and they faced a few mechanical problems on sunday.
      Slade didn’t seem to have much luck in the races (Mercedes) and neither did new sporn V8 racer Engel.
      Not to mention the new mercedes sound absolutely beautiful on track and don’t have that deep sound as the Nissian, Fords and Holdens have; but sound exactly like the F1s.
      As for Van Gisbergen… well… is it the fact he has a new car and a new team that made him qualify pole in fridays qualifying session and sundays and take away the clipsal 500 cup for pole position in race 2… or the fact he has walked away from last years season and improved his driving skills?

      over all, it was a good weekend. no safety car on the saturday but only took 65 laps for one to happen in race 2 on sunday.
      it’s the first event of the racing season and surely throughout the season we will see more of these new cars personalities.

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