WORRIED looks have been prevalent among V8 Supercar team owners in recent times due to the reports of significant commercial backers in the sport heading for the exit at the end of this season.
Along with the departure of sponsors, there are murmurs that one or two smaller teams may be forced to hand back their RECs (racing entitlement contracts) unless Santa brings them much-needed goodies.
Insiders have told Wheels that the cost of building, repairing and maintaining the new-generation V8 Supercars has hit budgets hard, one saying that his team’s two cars cost $1.3 million to build, instead of the promised $250,000 each.
“Yes, it’s a very tough commercial environment out there,” said a marketer from another team. “Ours is a very expensive sport and V8 Supercars sponsorship is now out of reach of most company budgets.”
Amid these concerns, V8 Supercars will reveal final details of its much-debated Gen 2 rule package by the season-ending Sydney 500 in December.
This is the blueprint for the future of the sport, specifically intending to appeal to manufacturers who have been seeking a race formula of greater relevance to the marketplace (and consumers).
The crux of the mooted changes is a freeing of the rules to allow new and different engines to race in a category that has been a mandated 5.0-litre V8 formula from day one, more than 20 years ago.
Among others, Volvo is eagerly awaiting the new formula, which it expects to be sympathetic to the brand’s new engine philosophy based on turbocharged four-cylinder units producing anything up to 500kW.
Recently appointed Volvo Australia managing director Kevin McCann warned, though, that it was important that any new engines allowed by the category retain exciting exhaust notes.
Two-door body shapes are certain to be part of an overhaul, opening the way for cars such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro to be used.
Car manufacturers have been canvassed for views on where the series should head technically following the end of local car-making.
V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton has promised the plans – including a new name and logo – will be revealed very soon.