Supercars engine arms race in full swing

Tom Howard

Thursday 21st September, 2017 - 4:00am

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Prodrive were among four teams to upgrade engines ahead of Sandown

Four Supercars teams elected to re-homologate engines prior to the Sandown 500 as the development race intensifies ahead of next month’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Engine upgrades proved a hot topic last weekend as Prodrive successfully rolled out its long awaited package, alongside chassis tweaks, which helped Cameron Waters and Richie Stanaway to victory last Sunday.

Supercars has confirmed to Speedcafe.com that Prodrive were among four teams to undergo engine upgrades in the lead up to Sandown.

Teams are required to re-homologate engines if changes are made to the power unit’s specification document, which could be as simple as a brand change of engine component or a performance upgrade.

Supercars must be notified 28 days in advance of the planned roll out of the upgrade.

An example of the engine is then sent away for testing to ensure the changes do not exceed the category’s performance parameters.

Regulations allow teams to re-homologate engines at anytime throughout the campaign.

Prodrive boss Tim Edwards has downplayed the significance of the engine upgrades, although Sandown 500 victor Cameron Waters praised the improvements made on the performance front.

The Ford team highlighted its want to develop engines in July and has since employed former NASCAR engine development engineer Jon Grove to assist the program.

However, it remains to be seen if the upward trajectory will continue at the high speed Mount Panorama.

While several teams are pushing ahead with engine developments, Triple Eight has told Speedcafe.com that it was not part of the quartet of squads to roll out engine upgrades at last weekend’s Pirtek Enduro Cup opener.

Having witnessed an upturn in performance from rivals Prodrive, team manger Mark Dutton has no concerns in the horsepower stakes ahead of the Bathurst 1000.

Renowned Brisbane operation KRE Engines, headed by Ken McNamara, builds and prepares power units for Triple Eight.

“We welcome it (the challenge from Prodrive),” said Dutton.

“The more teams up there competing, the more it helps divide the points.

“We’re not clearly leading, we’re not leading at all, so the fact that anybody can take points away from the people that are, happy days.

“We’ve got Kenny Mac (McNamara), he’s the best in the business.

“I don’t just say it because he works for us, I say it because he is, it’s as simple as that.

“That’s only a very small function. Obviously it’s a very important function, but when everyone is so close, the aero, and how you set the car up plays such a big role.

“As I said, I back Kenny Mac. Then we just need to make sure we do a good job with the car.

“It is crazy how sensitive they are. You’d be very surprised the difference in lap time you can get from some minor changes in the car and its behaviour in straight-line handling. It’s phenomenal.”