Eyes on NZ as Bathurst deadline looms

Sunday 29th June, 2014 - 12:00pm

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Artwork released by Super Black earlier this year

Artwork released by Super Black earlier this year

Plans for New Zealand outfit Super Black Racing to join the V8 Supercars grid are expected to be solidified within the next fortnight.

The push to return a Kiwi team to the championship was first revealed at Pukekohe in April, where project leader Paul Radisich promoted the concept to potential partners.

Amid efforts to secure a full-time entry into the V8 Supercars Championship next year, Radisich has spent recent weeks working towards debuting Super Black as a wildcard in October’s Bathurst 1000.

Detailed discussions about running a wildcard have taken place with Ford Performance Racing, which is currently in the process of finishing a second spare car in its Melbourne workshop.

The initial backing behind Super Black comes from Kiwi businessman Tony Lentino, who was introduced to Radisich by long-time friend and FPR co-owner Rusty French late last year.

Lentino, whose history includes limited tarmac rally outings in NZ, is the millionaire founder of Melbourne-based domain name service provider Instra.

The 40-year-old Lentino shot to prominence last year when he was named as CEO of Mega; an online file hosting provider owned by controversial German entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

Although Monday, June 30, looms as V8 Supercars’ official cut-off for submitting details of wildcard entries, Radisich was giving nothing away when contacted by Speedcafe.com.

“We’re working towards knowing something concrete within the next two weeks,” he said of Super Black’s plans.

Ford Performance Racing team principal Tim Edwards meanwhile confirmed to Speedcafe.com last week that his squad remains in discussions over a wildcard with Super Black.

Although stressing that facilitating such an entry would not affect his four full-time cars, Edwards hinted that, in addition to undertaking the car’s preparation, his team would be heavily involved in running it at the circuit.

“There are all different ways that a wildcard can go,” he said.

“There’s the way Roland (Dane, Triple Eight principal) did it last year (a full in-house entry) and there’s the way that Roland has done it in the past, when he rented out his car and some of his staff to Sieders (Development Series team Sieders Racing, 2009).

“(But) when you’ve got a half million dollar investment there, which is what the car costs with an engine, you’d want to be keeping pretty close tabs on it.”

The wildcard deadline follows the recent opening of a tender process for the three currently dormant Racing Entitlements Contracts; one of which is expected to be targeted by Super Black to underpin its 2015 entry.

If Super Black elects to forgo a wildcard in order to focus on next season, this year’s Bathurst 1000 remains in danger of running with a record low 25 car field.

While several teams have expressed desire to run extra entries, minnow Dunlop Series outfit Dragon Motor Racing is the only one so far to publicly confirm that it has lodged an application.

Recently purchasing Garry Rogers Motorsport’s two Holden-bodied V8 Supercars chassis, Dragon has sought the assistance of the main series outfit to plot its wildcard effort.

Having only contested one Dunlop Series round to date, however, a note posted by Dragon on its own Facebook page late last week indicated that its plan appears unlikely to be rubber stamped by V8 Supercars.

“I had a call from V8 Supercars today, from the conversation I am thinking that we are unlikely to get the Wildcard this year, and it would more likely succeed in 2015,” read the note in part.

Elsewhere, hopes of a Dick Johnson Racing run wildcard appear to have taken a back seat amid its ongoing discussions with Team Penske over the American giant’s expected takeover of the team.

Triple Eight, which fielded the only wildcard last year and Nissan, whose since departed motorsport manager Jeff Fisher spoke optimistically of fielding a fifth entry back in March, have both categorically ruled out adding extra cars for Bathurst.

Speedcafe.com has been established to provide a daily motorsport news service to the industry and fans in Australia and internationally.

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