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Holden Australia have confirmed they will stay in the Supercars Championship from 2017 onwards, with Triple Eight Race Engineering to represent the Holden Racing Team for the next three years.
The announcement represents a seismic shift in the Australian motorsport landscape, with Walkinshaw racing, who were the official Holden Racing Team from 1990, set to lose the blessing of the manufacturer.
It comes as the squad struggle to eke performance out of their cars, with star drivers Garth Tander and James Courtney wallowing at the back of the grid, while long-time rivals Triple Eight lock out three of the top-four positions in the standings.
Walkinshaw had much success under the Holden banner, with success from legends of the sport such as Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife, and the team enjoying an era of dominance from the late ’90s to the early 2000s.
However, the performance from the team declined over the last decade and their position as the primary Holden team has come under particular scrutiny since 2010, when Triple Eight switched to Holden and continued to dominate the teams championship.
It will be increasingly difficult for Walkinshaw to hang onto their drivers for next season now that Holden backing is set to disappear. Both Tander and Courtney are out of contract at the end of the year, and with the lure of the Lion brand’s support now faded, both drivers could leave the team.
In fact, there have been rumours circulating about Courtney’s future in the sport for several months, with Nissan Motorsport a likely destination.
Holden have also announced that the next generation Commodore will be introduced to the championship from 2018, with the car set to be developed by the newly rebranded Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
The new car is expected to have a V6 turbocharged engine, with the category opening up engine regulations from next year.
Holden is the first of the current manufacturers to confirm their active involvement in the series from the Gen2 era onwards. Nissan are set to make a decision, while Ford have already officially walked away from the sport, preferring to focus their efforts on Sportscar racing. Volvo are also set to pull out at the end of this year.