The Walkinshaw name is sticking around in Supercars, according to the new boss of the group’s car-making arm.
Walkinshaw Automotive Group’s new managing director Joel Stoddart confirmed the news exclusively to MOTOR during an exchange set up to learn more about the man who now replaces the long-serving Tim Jackson.
Stoddart also revealed that while Holden will cease to exist at the end of 2020, the company will continue to support the sport through to the end of 2021.
“We’re talking to a few interested parties about involvement in Supercars,” Stoddart says in regards to what will eventually replace the Holden Commodore ZB supercar currently raced by the team.
And while he won’t be drawn on who those parties are, “what I can say is that Supercars is important to us as a group – and we’re committed to the series.”
The former HSV chief engineer (below) is now in charge of the heading up the manufacturing arm based in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, with a venture between itself and General Motors’ local GM Specialty Vehicles set to launch before the end of the year.
This partnership, where Walkinshaw AG will contract its skills and services to GMSV but not directly link WAG to the sales of new cars, has connected the group’s race team, Walkinshaw Andretti United, to at least one marque.
Stoddart’s statement bolsters hopes the racing team will lock in a new marque soon, with co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw previously suggesting that former negotiations had fallen over due to COVID-19, with one party progressing to the contract stage before pulling back.
Previously, it was believed the WAU team would replace the Commodore as soon as next year, but COVID-19 has readjusted that timeline to 2022 or 2023.
This also has the effect of lining up better with an anticipated move by the series to a Gen 3 Supercar in 2022.
General Motor's decision to pull the Holden brand from Australia led many to fear that the Supercars championship would default to a Ford Mustang-dependent series once the ZB Commodores are retired.
However, the Commodore can easily be raced in the 2021 series and beyond, thanks to the category's use of spec parts like transaxles, suspension components and brake parts.
There is also a healthy supply of the GM Motorsport 5.0-litre V8 engine currently within the paddock, while body panels will also be able to be sourced from Holden.
Long-standing rival Ford, meanwhile, has expressed a desire to stay if only there are other manufacturers to race.
Head of Ford global motorsport Mark Rushbrook told sister magazine Wheels that multi-manufacturer competition is an important way to measure itself and justify involvement.
We can only speculate what WAU will race in 2022 given Stoddart's guarded word, but it's safe to rule out the Chevrolet Camaro, given the Walkinshaw Group axed the project this year and that a successor to the sixth-generation car is uncertain.
But that may change given anything could happen when GMSV arrives.
“Camaro was always intended to be a limited run program," said Stoddart. "We remanufactured just under 2000 Camaros both SS and ZL1. The feedback we had from our customers was fantastic, but moving forward any decision to reintroduce would be up to GMSV.”