Manufacturing delays hamper ZB Commodore builds

The new Holden ZB Commodore at Queensland Raceway late last year

A manufacturing delay has slowed teams building or converting their cars to ZB Commodore configuration ahead of the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

Speedcafe.com has learned that, while kits had initially been scheduled to reach teams last week, they are now not expected to be received until late this week.

All Holden teams will run a ZB Commodore clad chassis in 2018, with a mixture of brand new and upgraded cars currently being prepared.

Erebus Motorsport is building a brand new car for Anton de Pasquale, and upgrading David Reynolds’ chassis, while Walkinshaw Andretti United has confirmed it will initially upgrade two of its three cars, before beginning work on the spare once the season gets underway.

Brad Jones Racing reported late last year that it expected its kit in early January, however it is understood the kit is now scheduled to arrive on January 18.

“We’ve got a few panels. The car’s all engine in, wheels are on, waiting for the (additional) panels to get put on the car and see where we’re sitting, so we’re just waiting for all the gear at the moment,” Preston Hire Racing owner Charlie Schwerkolt told Speedcafe.com.

“It’s running a few days late but it’s trickling through as we speak, so ideally it would have been better to have it now but I’m sure it’ll all start arriving this week.”

According to Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, the delays have come about because of the new car’s late approval from Supercars.

“Some of the panels couldn’t be signed off until the aero testing was finished,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.

“We received the car back from aero testing on the 14th of December.

“We’ve then had to make sure we know what we’ve got and then go to work making plugs and moulds for the composite parts.”

Complicating the manufacturing schedule was the holiday period, with Triple Eight now focused on producing the kits and delivering them to teams.

“Unfortunately time frames are tight, but it is what it is and teams are co-operating with us, and wherever they can they’re combining to – the ones in the south –  to combine to help us with transportation,” Dane said.

“We’re cracking on to get stuff done as quickly as we can.

“Will it be tight? Yeah, it probably will be, it will be for all of us, as it was for Car of the Future.

“When the Car of the Future came people were finishing cars the day before. That’s motor racing.”

Not all parts of the kit have been delayed, and teams have received some components, with a number having already completed preparation work in anticipation of the remaining panels arriving.

“All the bracketry and all the bits that the panels fit onto the car are all from Holden, which we’ve all got on the car and welded on, on our jig,” Schwerkolt said.

“Where the windscreen sits, where the doors sit and all that sort of stuff, we get all that from Holden; and then of the composite panels, 90 percent of them are from Triple Eight.”

The delays have also impacted Garry Rogers Motorsport, which has a license to build the ZB Commodore front splitter for the Victorian teams.

To date it has not produced a complete bumper, though has constructed a number of undertray sections in readiness.

“We’ve got a license with Roland, or Triple Eight, that we’re making the front splitters for the Victorian teams,” Barry Rogers confirmed to Speedcafe.com.

“We’ve made all the undertrays, they’re sitting there made up ready to roll, we’re just waiting on some things out of Triple Eight to prepare the fascias.

“We were hoping to get that (last) week but there’s been a couple of delays there, but in the next week or so that’ll arrive and we’ll get in and get them made.”

The delays have had a varied impact on team’s preparations, with some waiting simply to hang the new panels on their cars while others are yet to commence work ahead of the kits arrival.

Converting a car from VF specification to ZB requires extensive of work to the back end of the car to establish mounting points for the ZB’s rear bumper and boot section.

However, once the mountings have been installed, hanging the panels themselves can be completed in a day.

Once on track, teams are hoping the new Commodore will see aerodynamic improvements over the VF.

Erebus Motorsport’s Alistair McVean suggests the new car could offer a more consistent aerodynamic package, which will make fine tuning its setup easier than the car it replaces.

“Our data with the VF Commodore shows it to possess a very sensitive aero package that makes it difficult to balance the car out in all phases of the corner,” McVean told the team’s website.

“We are expecting the ZB Commodore to be a step change in this area, and while the category carefully controls the overall downforce and drag potential of the vehicle to ensure parity, we expect to see improvements in the consistency of the aerodynamic platform.

“This should allow us to refine the car setup without having to manage the aero platform so carefully.”

All Holden teams remain confident that they will have their cars ready, in ZB configuration, ahead of the season launch on February 15 at Sydney Motorsport Park, and the pre-season test the following day.

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