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Monday, 31 October 2016 00:00

Fraternising with Foges: The Lion King, Simon McNamara

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A new-look Commodore racer, the first without a V8, will hit the tracks in 2018. But as Holden's head of motorsport Simon McNamara outlines to Mark Fogarty in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #95, keeping the General in Supercars was a tough sell.

Issue #95 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 #95.

Holden is staying in Supercars for at least another three years but not as you know it. From next year there will be a new Holden Racing Team (HRT) and from 2018 an all-new Commodore racer. For the first time in 26 years the HRT banner won't be carried by a team run out of Clayton, while the next Commodore won't have a V8.

Holden's renewed commitment to Supercars from 2017-19 maintains the Lion brand's involvement since the late 1960s. It also means that the Commodore nameplate, which has been racing since 1980, will continue despite local manufacturing ending late next year. But it will be the end of factory backing of a Walkinshaw-run HRT, with the iconic brand switching to Triple Eight as the only factory-funded Holden team.

Given HRT's serial under-achievement in recent years, it is no surprise that Walkinshaw Racing is losing Holden's support. The creation of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, though, was unexpected.

As well as rebranding the Commodores of Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen, the deal includes Triple Eight developing the next-generation racer with Holden and becoming the sole source of the Gen2-spec machine from 2018.

The new Commodore racer will adopt the look of the imported road-going replacement – a rebadged version of the latest Opel Insignia – and almost certainly be powered by a 3.85-litre twin turbocharged V6.

The man who orchestrated these seismic changes is Holden's sponsorship and motorsport manager Simon McNamara, a 22-year veteran with the company.

McNamara, 46, has overseen Holden's dominance in Supercars for nearly a decade, since the introduction of the VE racer in 2007, while managing an increasingly declining budget for motorsport as Commodore sales deteriorated with the dramatic market shift to SUVs.

Never, though, has he had to fight so hard to keep Holden in Supercars as he did to convince a management that was ambivalent, at best, about the benefits for the brand.

McNamara discusses all these changes and more in the in-depth interview with Foges, in this issue's Fraternising with Foges feature.

CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of issue #95 to read the interview.