Home' Supercar Xtra : Oct Nov 2016 Issue 95 Contents 27
[the #23 entry], so people have a Nissan car to cheer on.
“The impact on merchandise sales shows there’s more
connection than with another brand. For example,
we’ve promoted Nissan Navara on the #23 as we know
the demographic that would buy that car are watching
Supercars, so it’s an extension of our marketing for it.”
Emery says Nissan Australia’s motorsport spend is “rel-
atively small, smaller than people would think”. Yet even
so, despite a reported budget of $2 million for a manu-
facturer to support a factory-backed team, Supercars isn’t
being inundated with different brands.
Car of the Future was meant to usher in a new era of
manufacturer battles, but teams are instead focussing
on cutting costs and making do without factory backing.
Jones has been on both sides of the fence, having run
the factory-backed Audi team in Super Touring and now
as a privately run Holden entrant in Supercars. His team
has constructed its own Commodores since the begin-
ning of the Car of the Future era. Together with Prodrive
Racing Australia, it represents the template for how non-
customer independent teams will operate in an era of
diminishing manufacturer support. Both are competi-
tive, though there is still some liasing that needs to be
done with the manufacturers.
“We’re approved to liaise with them and if we want to
make a shirt and put Ford on it, or do something with
the branding, we must seek their approval,” says Nash.
“As long as we aren’t trying to go too far the other way,
putting this huge Ford branding on a shirt and then noth-
ing else, they’re more than happy to be part of it as long
as we’re using the logo in the correct form, they’re just
playing policeman in how it’s being used.”
Moving forward into Gen2, any new manufacturer
would need to give its blessing for a team to apply its body
shell and engine to a Supercar. But while it has drawn
criticisms, Car of the Future is still regarded as the best
platform for the sustainability of Supercars.
The cost of turning a road-going car into a Supercar
without the control chassis – harking back to the
improved production, Group C and Group A days – is
seemingly unfeasible in terms of costs, safety and parity.
“With the advancement in parity and safety, you can’t
keep putting bars inside cars like we used to,” says Nash.
“The Car of the Future set the platform for the series to
move forward. But one good thing we have is that the cars
are based off cars that you could walk into the showroom
floor of the manufacturer and purchase it.
“Our rules keep that together and the teams work very
hard at supporting that, so we make sure that we sustain
the look and feel of the car, like something you can go and
buy. That gives strength to what we do.”
But as expressed already, manufacturer involvement in
Supercars is no longer about the direct link between race
and road cars but rather brand awareness.
“I’ve been in to a number of different manufacturers and
not one of them has said whether we would run an inde-
pendent rear end, etc... would the marketing department
or CEO know that? It’s a branding exercise,” argues Jones.
There has been more variety in terms of race winners
in the Car of the Future era, though there’s growing con-
cern that the pool of constructors is diminishing with
Triple Eight charged with building the next Commodore
and an increasing amount of teams relying on customer
“It definitely helps to drive down costs and the fact
is that more people are capable of manufacturing than
before,” insists Jones, whose team has won more races
with Car of the Future than the Holden Racing Team.
“The driver is as close to the middle of the car as we can
get him for safety, the competition is close and we’ve had
many different winners, so it’s great that you turn up to a
circuit and you don’t know who’s going to win.”
Future-proofing the series is now the name of the
game. According to Warburton, Holden and Nissan
would not have committed to a V8-only formula, which
would have left the series with no factory-backed teams.
“That’s where Gen2 is a good offer to any manufac-
turer, because the body will inherently still look very
similar to what you can buy on the road with an engine
in keeping with what’s in the road car,” says Nash.
“I see it as a positive because if manufacturers want
to pursue it at least we’ve got the garage door open to
be able to accommodate them. If they don’t, well, then I
still believe that teams will be well structured to still make
their own decisions on which way we should continue to
go forward and make the right decisions.”
But as Gen2 edges closer to GT3, does Supercars run
into the problem of making it harder for makes to justify
a separate package than its GT offering?
This is particular a concern given the strength of the
GT racing model, in which manufacturers sell and service
the cars to customers who take them racing. It’s a low-
cost revenue stream for manufacturers with a direct link
to the road cars. In that sense, it’s a throwback to what
touring cars used to be but has now lost as manufacturers’
performance cars evolved into GT-spec and the industry
moved away from high-powered sedans that formed the
basis for Australian touring cars.
Erebus Motorsport’s Barry Ryan believes Supercars’
only hope of attracting manufacturer interest is moving
to GT3, saying: “If manufacturers are what we want and
need, then eventually we are going to have to go GT3.”
Nissan has Skyline GT-Rs ready and waiting to be raced
in GT events around the world. And over the course of
the next year the manufacturer will weigh up its future
direction in Supercars, at a time it’s still optimising its
current Altima package.
ABOVE: Holden-fan loyalty
will be tested with the
switch of factory status to
V8X95 p22-29 Makes.indd 27
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