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When we went to print with the previous issue, Holden was committed to the development of a twin-turbo V6 engine for its ZB Commodore, Ford remained sidelined with no indication as to what would replace the Falcon, while Nissan was being pushed to convert to the GT-R.
Fast forward to this issue and Holden has shelved the twin-turbo V6 and will continue with the V8, Ford is back with a V8-powered Mustang, while Nissan will depart at the end of this season.
The dramatic turnarounds have swung the balance of power to the Blue Oval. Though Ford Australia had shown a disinterest in Supercars in recent years, the decision to race the Mustang with a V8 across its teams has been praised by fans from both sides of the manufacturer divide. It’ll be the first two-door coupe to race under the Gen2 rules, which were created to open up Supercars to different body shapes and engine configurations.
Holden, in contrast to Ford, didn’t waver in its commitment to Supercars, but has been battling sliding showroom sales and continued criticism for the decision to retain the Commodore name on the new imported version of the vehicle.
The struggle in the marketplace has raised the suggestion that parent company General Motors could simply do away with the Holden brand in its outpost of Australia, instead exporting Chevrolet products.
Chevrolet’s Camaro will be converted to right-hand drive and sold in Australia under a deal between the Walkinshaw family-owned Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), Holden and General Motors. Walkinshaw Andretti United would, therefore, be in the prime position to lead the development of a Camaro Supercar, with co-owners Zak Brown and Michael Andretti able to champion the cause in North America as Roger Penske did with Ford.
This could create another battleground between Triple Eight boss Roland Dane and Ryan Walkinshaw, with Triple Eight the sole factory-backed Holden team and spearheading the development of the ZB Commodore and Walkinshaw Andretti United in a position to control the future of a Camaro in Supercars.
Holden is open to the idea of giving the greenlight for the Camaro to enter Supercars, though much will depend on the future of Holden itself and the Commodore.
So for the foreseeable future it’s Ford versus Holden racing V8 products, as it was before Supercars opened the door to other manufacturers in 2013.
The first to enter under those Car of the Future regulations, Nissan, will depart despite having its own two-door performance coupe that could have raced in Supercars.
The Nissan Altima is in its sixth season in Supercars and is enjoying its best year yet with a string of podiums and race-winning performances.
The use of the production-based VK56DE V8 set the Nissan Altima back in its first few seasons, heaping pressure on the team to develop parts just to be competitive.
The Gen2 rules will allow manufacturers to come into Supercars with the package they have rather than trying to conform to the strict technical regulations in place as Nissan did in 2013.
If entering in the coming years instead, when Mustangs and Camaros were on the grid, the GT-R would have been a better alignment with Supercars.
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