Declining numbers in the BNT NZ SuperTourers has seen the category’s management move to dispel claims the championship is too expensive.
At the most recent round of the championship at Hampton Downs, the grid comprised of eight cars which included a one-off entry, the Smeg Holden for open-wheel star Mitch Evans.
Indications are that the grid for the next round of the 2014/2015 championship, the Timaru 250 from March 7-8, will remain at eight, with three more on the ‘possible’ list.
“Drivers can get behind the wheel of a Supertourer for as little as $NZD20,000 a round,” said series chief executive Ray Noonan.
“We are simply working to dispel early claims that Supertourers are very expensive to run.
“In some ways this harks back to the early days of the cars where there was an understandable need to rapidly evolve the platform, however we have worked hard over the last 18 months or so to stabilise the cars and reduce the costs associated with running them.
“The offer of a fixed price drive is simply NZST putting its money where its mouth is, and providing a fixed price drive.
“The price is based on a driver turning up to a fully prepared car with his helmet and driving, it includes entry fee and all costs, excluding damage.”
Noonan says the series has been working on ways to reduce costs and foster new teams and drivers.
“It is no secret that our field sizes are down,” he said.
“As a semi-professional category we have been focused on getting the ‘show’ right first.
“When we took over the series there were a number of weaknesses that needed to be addressed including a consistent calendar, robust technical scrutineering, event management, support categories, TV and most importantly commercial viability.
“I took the view that we needed to sort these things out before we tried to build the grid sizes. Simply bringing in new teams and new drivers who didn’t stay because the “back end” wasn’t up to par would have destroyed the series.
“The $20k I am purporting is the total cost. Any sponsorship income would subsidise this cost further.”
Noonan says that relaying the message that the series is affordable is not an SOS and affirms that two new teams will join the category for the fresh 2015/2016 season starting in September.
Additionally, several drivers have indicated a possible return to the series which once had a 20-car grid with fresh sponsorship deals.