Plans are underway for Erebus Motorsport to complete the build of three spare Mercedes-Benz V8 Supercars to sit alongside its current race cars.
The squad is currently finishing the rebirth of its initial Car of the Future specification chassis, which enjoyed a brief hit-out at Queensland Raceway sporting a Ford engine and Falcon FG bodywork in October last year.
Two more cars will be started by mid-year and sit in the team’s Yatala, Queensland, workshop in an almost-complete state, ensuring Erebus holds the biggest fleet of new-generation chassis of any single team on the grid.
Erebus Motorsport V8 general manager Ross Stone told Speedcafe.com that there are no plans at this stage to replace any of its current race cars this season unless an incident forces its hand.
“The chassis that ran as a Falcon has been stripped and the made to be identical to our current race cars, with all the little brackets (for the Mercedes bodywork) and so on,” confirmed Stone.
“Once we do get on top of our spares and our racing and everything else, we’ll build two more chassis that’ll sit there with wiring looms in them ready to go if necessary.
“We haven’t started on those yet, but our timeline on that is mid-year. We feel it’s important to have a spare car for every race car, and we have a structured plan in place to make that happen.”
The three current race cars carry dual Stone Brothers Racing and Erebus Motorsport chassis tags, with Maro Engel in SBR 23/EM 01 (which was used for the initial testing and aerodynamic homologation work), Lee Holdsworth in SBR 24/EM 02, and Tim Slade in SBR 25/EM03.
While the team managed to escape the Clipsal 500 Adelaide and Albert Park street events without major damage, Holdsworth’s car needed significant repairs after making contact with the Turn 3 barriers at Queensland Raceway when it suffered a brake disc failure during its shakedown in February.
Stone says that the chassis held up “reasonably well” in the side-on impact compared to the previous generation machines.
Erebus’ immediate focus, meanwhile, remains on improving the performance of its current race cars.
Although making positive noises about the potential of its chassis, the squad has endured significant teething problems with its AMG Customer Sports-sourced engines.
Peak power is reportedly comparable to the Ford, Holden and Nissan motors, but reliability and driveability remain areas for significant improvement.
Slade endured two engine/driveline related failures to finish in Melbourne, with a Race 2 issue requiring a mid-event engine change.
Engel’s car, which was the subject of a specially granted test hit-out at Calder Park in the lead-up to the AGP following issues with its fly-by-wire throttle in Adelaide, chalked up one DNF after an electronic issue on Saturday.
“It is clear that we have quite a bit of work to do, but there is a partial reprieve before Tasmania,” said Erebus CEO Ryan Maddison after the Albert Park event.
“We aren’t turning around to another race track in 10 days as we did (for Albert Park), which means a reprieve in terms of time. We have vigorous communication occurring with Germany on nearly every aspect, in particular our engine programme as the chassis package is quite positive.
“We need to make sure we can actually get some level of drivability within the car so our drivers can extract the most (out of them).”
The presence of the three Mercedes E63 AMGs in the field this year alongside four Nissan Altimas has added significant media and fan interest to the V8 Supercars category.