Home' Supercar Xtra : Oct Nov 2014 Issue 83 Contents 20
CrystaL baLLing: hybrid or hero engines?
s we bask on another
Bathurst, the corner-
stone of our sport, I
often ponder where
we are headed.
We’re living in a very dynamic
world that is changing and
evolving in shorter timespans,
and both car manufacturing and
racing are caught up in it.
start mechanical engineering
at university on his mission to
become a race engineer. As such,
I spend time wondering, should
he achieve his mission, what
form of racing or vehicle may he
be influencing in 2040 or 2050?
If we had to crystal ball down
the track, what does our series
look like? What’s it called? V8
Supercars? Supercars? Ecocars?
We are fast approaching an
important fork in the road that
has been looming for some time.
Veering to the left takes you
down the route of “market rel-
evance”, while veering right will
send you down the “entertain-
ment” track. But these routes are
not mutually exclusive. There is
a somewhat well travelled track
down the centre that creates a
bumpy ride to the same destina-
tion, called “unknown”.
V8 Supercars has flourished
on the entertainment highway,
with time spent occasionally
down the bumpy middle road.
But this road gets bumpier as
we increasingly hear words
like “market relevance”, “clean
energy”, “alternative”, “sustain-
ability”, “eco friendly”, “social
impact”, “carbon footprint”,
“hybrid” and “energy recovery”.
Most of these are windows
into the future of motorsport,
though some sit awkwardly
alongside pillars of V8 Supercars
big, loud, powerful.
If we continue left and go
down the clean, green and mar-
ket-relevant path, we’d be doing
so with closer alignment to the
road-car industry, its directions,
influence and follow them into
“community standards and
expectations”. This should bring
support, a good thing, provided
the commercial, political and
parity war is controlled.
I applaud the FIA and F1 on
the brave new worlds they’ve
entered. The F1 hybrids will no
doubt filter into road-car tech-
nology, from which we benefit.
The introduction of Formula
E is a game-changer in terms
of crystal ball and market rel-
evance. Key items include “sus-
tainability” and “fan boost”. Yep,
“fan boost”! Use social media
and vote for a driver to get 90hp
boost. Serious crystal ball stuff!
Formula E commissioned a
report to assess the value of the
series over the next 25 years. It
says it can help sell an additional
77 million electric cars, save four
billion barrels of oil and help
make savings of 25 billion euros
on healthcare. A profound claim
of motorsport’s future position.
So is this the direction V8
Supercars needs to head? I’m
not so sure. The level to which
V8 Supercars immerses itself in
new-world credentials needs to
be timely and measured, remain-
ing a good corporate citizen.
This means evolution not
revolution, maybe moving to
smaller capacity, more efficient
(turbo?) engines, modest hybrid
and energy-recovery technol-
ogy, when it’s more affordable.
Lighter cars and materials, yes.
Smaller cars? Mmmm...
We need to accept our series
isn’t designed as a platform for
the filtering down of technology
into road cars. It’s a sporting
contest. The real technology
transfer is the domain of F1,
sports cars and Formula E.
This brings us to entertain-
ment, defined by NASCAR. And
I reckon we’re in the same lane.
It’s simple: attract and grow
a fanbase. Words like “close
racing” and “contact” define our
vocab. Replace “finite battery
molecules” with “fire-breathing
monster”, “capacitors” with
“contest”, “hybrid” with “hero”.
Our cars sound magnificent,
have big body language yet take
world-class skill and engineer-
ing to master. Importantly, V8
Supercars provide just enough
ability for a make to inject their
own DNA, giving them “market
relevance” and a benefit from the
passion and ethos of the series.
So gazing into the crystal
ball, the take home message is:
too much, too fast up the left
lane has potential for distress –
maybe a bit like the carbon tax.
Let’s ease our way along this
path, not rush. Let entertain-
ment be the backbone from
which decisions about market
relevance or wider community
expectations are made. For all
their good work, F1 is now react-
ing to a backlash and exploring
ways to make their cars louder
again. Who would have thought?
So there’s a right turn, back onto
the entertainment highway.
“We are fast approaChing an
iMportant fork in the road
that’s been LooMing...”
V8X83 p20 Larko column.indd 20
5/9/14 5:00:04 PM
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