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Thursday, 30 June 2016 00:00

New horizons: Is GT3 the future for Supercars?


As the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship battles for manufacturer interest, the Australian GT Championship is reaping the benefits of increased brand interest. So are the two categories heading for a head-to-head battle? And does Supercars need to look to a GT3 platform for its own future?

Motoring/motorsport journalist Bruce Newton weighs up the pros and cons of whether the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship must look to a GT3 platform to cement its long-term future in the cover story V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93.

Issue #93 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.

CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93.

The feature includes the varying opinions of Supercars industry insiders, interviews with Supercars CEO James Warburton and Australian GT manager Ken Collier on their opposing categories, the practicalities of a GT3 future for Supercars, a comparison of the driving styles required for the sportscars to the touring cars and more.

Triggers for this debate have been many and varied, including:

- The sheer cost of mounting any sort of Supercars assault, let alone a successful one; a cost that has not been reined in by the move to Car of the Future regulations.

- The reducing number of manufacturers willing to invest in Supercars.

- The end of local manufacturing that drove the selling point for a unique Australian touring-car formula.

- The move to new Gen2 and Gen3 regulations that allow engines other than V8s and bodies other than sedans. Sounds a bit like GT3, doesn't it?

- Supercars' move to block its drivers from competing in GT3's local blue ribbon event, the Bathurst 12 Hour, in 2015 and then taking over the rights to the event in 2016.

- The fact GT3s are seconds a lap quicker than Supercars. Should a support category be faster than what is supposed to be a country's premier series?

- The move by Supercars teams into the GT3 category. Both Tekno Autosports and Walkinshaw Racing are running customer support programs with McLaren and Porsche affiliations respectively. More and more Supercars drivers are jumping in GT3, too.

In support of the current touring cars over sportscars, Nissan Motorsport team owner/driver Todd Kelly says: "In our racing we use the car a lot to lean on people and there is no way you would attempt that in those cars. You do it once or twice and your repair budget would be half your racing budget in one round.
 That full-on racing is what makes our category so successful. So the people who are calling for GT3 would be bored with it in two minutes."

On the other side of the debate, Erebus Motorsport chief executive Barry Ryan argues: "If manufacturers are what we want and need, then eventually we are going to have to go GT3."

CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 to read the full feature.