INSIGHT: Beneath the skin of each team’s COTF chassis
This season sees V8 Supercars’ teams undertaking the unenviable task of balancing their current racing programs against the need to prepare for the incoming Car of the Future.
While finalising the COTF regulations has proven a slow and somewhat painful process, the teams continue to edge closer to seeing the first of their new cars hit the track.
The next-generation rules feature a control chassis design for the first time in the category’s history, but that hasn’t stopped the weaving of a complex web of individual production plans tailored to suit each squad’s own expertise, time frames and budgets.
At their core, each of the 28 cars on next year’s grid will have started life as pieces of chrome-moly tubing and mild-steel sheet-metal supplied by either Pace Innovations or Kelly Racing.
Contracted to complete the design and construction of the COTF prototype chassis, Pace has subsequently supplied materials to seven of the eight teams accredited by V8 Supercars to build the new vehicles.
According to its owner Paul Ceprnich, by mid-November the Gold Coast-based firm will have delivered a total of 24 chassis in varying forms.
Triple Eight, Ford Performance Racing and Stone Brothers Racing have each already received three Pace chassis kits, which arrive at the respective team workshops with the front-firewall to rear-roll-hoop section fully fabricated. This is referred to as a 2B chassis frame, pictured right.
Dick Johnson Racing has gone a step further by ordering complete chassis from Pace, as pictured below right. While the chassis are not built at DJR’s workshop, COTF project leader Mark Skaife has explained to Speedcafe.com that the team’s accredited builder status is based on the fact that no other cars are being conceived using the same method. The team is already in the possession of its first chassis.
Ceprnich, a long-time supplier of materials and fabrication services to teams in the category, says that his tight-knit crew has hit every one of its delivery targets despite having to cope with the various rule amendments that have occurred along the way.
“We’re providing each of our teams with their preferred form of chassis kit, specifically to their requirements,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“Helping teams set-up their own jigging and production processes has added to what is quite a big workload, but so far we’ve hit every single one of our delivery targets to the day, despite the rule changes that have gone on.
“The delays in the rules have meant we’ve had to rework what we’re doing because the teams want things either left out or changed, but we’ve coped with the challenges as they’ve arisen.”
Kelly Racing is the only squad not to have dealt with Pace, instead electing to continue its past practice of importing its own raw materials and cutting/folding them at its own Braeside workshop.
“It’s all about cost and convenience for us, based on the fact that we’re building six cars,” Todd Kelly told Speedcafe.com of electing against the Pace kits. “We’d always done all of our own tube notching and laser cutting ourselves in the past, and we just wanted to press on with it how we always have.”
The remaining three accredited builders, Victorian-based Holden squads Walkinshaw Performance, Garry Rogers Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing, are each using a combination of materials supplied by Pace and Kelly Racing to build their chassis.
Walkinshaw Performance’s first three chassis will all be constructed at its Clayton base using Pace-supplied roll-cage kits and Kelly-supplied sheet-metal. Its subsequent cars will then be made entirely from Kelly Racing’s full chassis kits.
GRM’s first car will also be a ‘hybrid’, utilising both Pace cage materials and Kelly sheet-metal, and is currently being pieced together at GRM.
Finally, BJR’s first car is being constructed at the team’s Albury base from a Pace chassis kit, which was delivered in 2B frame form (CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s previous story, including images).
Like WP, both GRM and BJR have struck deals with Kelly Racing to build their subsequent vehicles from the full Kelly kits. As the parts are all of a control design, the teams do not expect that any performance differences between their own chassis will be apparent once on track.
Two of the three teams that operate from their own workshops but will not build their own cars – Tekno Autosports and Lucas Dumbrell Motosport – will take full cars from Triple Eight (CLICK HERE for previous story). Tony D’Alberto Racing meanwhile has ordered its own roll-cage kit from Pace, but has yet to confirm where it will have it constructed and fitted out.
The combination of parts supply uncertainties and the yet-to-be-locked-in status of several Racing Entitlements Contracts means that the majority of teams are cautious when it comes to predicting the roll-out date for their first car and the total number of cars in their initial build program.
Triple Eight is expected to kick-off the testing in early August with its ‘laboratory car’, which will feature a variety of components not set to be raced in order to address the lack of a final rule package (CLICK HERE for previous story). The team has already confirmed that it will build nine cars.
A glut of cars – likely from Ford Performance Racing, Stone Brothers Racing, Walkinshaw Performance and Garry Rogers Motorsport – are expected to hit the track during September, with the first of six Kelly Racing Altimas to follow shortly afterward.
The first cars from Brad Jones Racing and Dick Johnson Racing meanwhile are not expected to be seen until after this season’s endurance races, leaving them to potentially benefit from any further rule changes that may be required.
Meanwhile, following the recent decision to abandon the August 6 group test (CLICK HERE for previous story), V8 Supercars has now finalised the new brake package, as well as awarded the final tenders for the drive shaft and axles. A decision was also made at the weekend to change the pedal box mounting design, leaving those that have already installed boxes to cut a section of the floor out of their cars.
See below for a summary of the COTF build methods and Speedcafe.com’s understanding of the likely body shape and roll-out dates for the first car from each accredited builder
Triple Eight Race Engineering
|Build Plan||All cars use Pace chassis kit, supplied with 2B frame constructed to Triple Eight’s weld specification. All cars completed at Triple Eight.|
|First car||Early August|
|Customers||Tekno Autosports, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport|
Ford Performance Racing
|Build Plan||All cars use Pace chassis kit, supplied with 2B frame constructed to FPR’s weld specification. All cars completed at Ford Performance Racing.|
|First car||Early-Mid September|
Stone Brothers Racing
|Build Plan||All cars use Pace chassis kit, supplied with 2B frame constructed to SBR’s weld specification. All cars completed at Stone Brothers Racing.|
|First car||Early-Mid September|
Dick Johnson Racing
|Build Plan||All cars supplied to DJR as complete chassis from Pace Innovations.|
|Build Plan||All cars constructed at Kelly Racing.|
|First car||Late September-Early October|
|Build Plan||First three cars will use a Pace roll-cage kit and Kelly Racing sheet-metal kit. Subsequent cars will use complete Kelly Racing chassis kits. All cars constructed at Walkinshaw Performance.|
|First car||Early-Mid September|
Garry Rogers Motorsport
|Build Plan||First car to use Pace roll-cage kit and Kelly Racing sheet-metal kit. Subsequent cars to use full Kelly Racing chassis kit. All constructed at Garry Rogers Motorsport.|
|First car||Mid-Late September|
Brad Jones Racing
|Build Plan||First car to use Pace chassis kit, supplied with 2B frame constructed. Subsequent cars to use full Kelly Racing chassis kit, constructed at Brad Jones Racing.|