AUSTRALIA’S peak professional motorsport has opened the door to cars such as BMW’s M4 and even the four-cylinder Ford Mustang as it attempts to reinvent the sport and remain relevant beyond the end of local car manufacturing.
V8 Supercars announced today that it would relax and expand the rules governing which vehicles qualify for the sport, paving the way for turbocharged four- and six-cylinder vehicles to take the field as early as 2017 against existing V8-powered cars.
An important point of order, though, that allows vehicles such as the M4 to compete, is the stipulation that a vehicle must have at least four seats – not the traditional five that the crop of current-generation cars adhere to.
According to V8 Supercars, the “Gen2” Supercar will need to be loud, look like the road-going version on sale here, use Car of the Future chassis and control components, and adhere to strict engine and aero parity rules.
“The cars will continue to be loud and high powered, irrespective of their engine configuration,” a statement from V8 Supercars said.
“The competitiveness and dynamic racing the sport is renowned for will not be compromised.”
V8 Supercars chief executive James Warburton said the sport had to change to stay relevant, particularly if it wanted to attract a younger audience.
“The current climate in world motorsport is absolutely clear. Manufacturers want choice in what they go racing with, otherwise they won’t participate,” he said.
“They want their DNA represented and so do we. We will not compromise our DNA – fast, loud and fierce racing.
“The sheer brute power and sound of V8 Supercars is synonymous with the sport,” Mr Warburton said.
“A key area will be retaining the acoustic effect of high-powered race cars no matter the engine or make.”
Over the next 12 months, two working groups will focus on engines and bodies to draft technical specifications and rules to ensure “no engine or body configuration has any advantage or disadvantage over another”.
By mid-2015, the group will have draft rules in place that will allow testing to take place in February, 2016.
One thing that has not yet been flagged, though, is a what name the motorsport division will wear once the string of four-, six- and eight-cylinder cars join it.