For generations of Australians, touring car racing has been all about Holdens and Fords, all in V8 sedan specification, but the future looks very different.
Under the latest category blueprint which is supposed to take effect from next year, there is freedom for different engine and body types to take to Australia’s favourite tracks. That means that aside from V8s, we could be seeing turbo-charged four-cylinder and six-cylinder cars.
The idea behind Gen2 Supercar is to make the category more relevant to a wider range of potential manufacturers, sponsors and race teams, as well as providing more entertainment for the fans.
Any model that is to be entered must be publicly available for sale here and look like the real thing, but all cars will use the so-called ‘Car of the Future’ chassis and control components. They will also be subject to parity rules on engine and aero package.
The lead-up to this new look championship has involved hard work by two groups working on engine and body configurations, formulating specifications to ensure even racing.
The groups have been operating under the control of the category and have consulted with manufacturers and teams on the way to the creation of draft guidelines.
But that isn’t the end of the story. While Gen2 plans are still unfolding, the sport’s management is already looking further ahead, with Gen3 expected to be announced shortly, covering new regulations to come into effect for 2022.
There are suggestions that Gen3 involves a ‘clean sheet of paper’ but not much more detail about the new format. Given the three local car manufacturers will have ceased local production by that time, it’s a challenge for category organisers to create a formula that has relevance in what will be an extremely fragmented new car market.
With the dropping of ‘V8’ from its name as of this month, and the fact the Supercars team now owns the Bathurst 12 Hour race as well as the touring car championship, there could be possibilities of new connections because of the manufacturers who race in the February event.
What is certain is the uncertainty of what we will be cheering for. The old days of a two-car format with dyed-in-the-wool, lifelong allegiance to one brand or the other are well and truly gone.
Take a look in your garage – will you be trackside cheering if your brand of choice was lapping Australia’s racetracks in the future? There are interesting times ahead.