Tickford boss predicts Camaro will enter Supercars
Tickford Racing boss Rod Nash believes the arrival of the Ford Mustang into the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship next year is the first of other two-door coupe style bodies.
The Mustang marks a departure from the four-door sedan which has dominated Australian touring car racing for much of the last 30 years.
By doing so, Nash believes it will encourage other manufacturers into the category with similar cars, and specifically singled out the Camaro
“I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer that the Camaro’s on its way now for sure, just as a result of the Mustang body being put out there,” Nash reasoned.
“That’s what’s great about the Gen2, even within a brand of Chev and Holden, you’re likely to see two body shapes out there being the Commodore and the Camaro.
“I think that’s great for where the landscape is, but no question that Mustang’s going to set the agenda now, so it’s good.”
Triple Eight this year introduced the Holden ZB Commodore, which has won seven of the opening eight races of the 2018 season.
However, despite the new Comomdore’s recent arrival, Nash believes a ‘hero’ car like the Camaro makes more sense on the grid alongside the Mustang.
“As we know, the Mustang chat’s been around for a while,” he said.
“It’s been known for some time that manufacturing in Australia was ceasing so we had to start forward thinking (where) we would get to, so Mustang’s been a common conversation, as is Camaro, amongst the teams.”
Nash also suggests that the addition of the Camaro could tempt other manufacturers into the category at time when Nissan’s future participation remains unclear.
“It’ll be great for our sustainability as a business in the sport, but it’ll also help to just add that next other level of attractiveness to our fanbase and followers because this is broadening…
“We are in the entertainment business, it’s what we do, so the more you can be colourful and creative, I think the better, so that’s where that will come from. Along with obviously hopefully another couple of manufacturers.
“Nissan’s got great body shapes and I’ll stop there without mentioning other categories or other brands but I think it’s good all-round.”
Making an official return to the category, Ford too is hoping the competition remains greater than just the traditional Ford versus Holden rivalry.
“I’d certainly like to see it as more than just red versus blue,” said Graeme Whickman, CEO and President of Ford Australia and New Zealand.
“I think that that’s important; we don’t measure ourselves against one particular manufacturer, whether it be on the race track or on the road, and we’ve I think established ourselves separate to that past history of Holden versus Ford and we look beyond that now, so I’d hope that would extend onto the race track.
“I would like us to be racing against a multitude of marques because I think that just speaks volumes to the competitiveness of the market,” Whickman added when asked if he’d prefer Ford to compete against the Commodore or Camaro.
“So you probably won’t draw me into a choice between the two because I’m less worried about those two; I’m more worried about our offering and our relationship and how well we perform on the track.”
Like Whickman, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer is keen to see a multitude of brands on the grid, and is working to both maintaining and then growing the number of manufacturers currently involved.
“If we do go back to having two manufacturers in the sport, we will continue to develop conversations that are already ongoing, to support broader diversity and relevant for our fans,” he said.
“The Gen2 guidelines allow us to run front-engined rear-drive cars, provided that they are produced in units of 5000, and they have four seats.
“I think that variety is a very, very good thing for the category. As Rod said, it leads to sustainability and it helps us to broaden our fan base.
“Obviously we’re working with Nissan and Todd Kelly on what the future looks like with those guys,” he added.
“We don’t have an update at this point but I think if the question is, ‘Would we like to see Godzilla return?’, yes, absolutely. Do the Gen 2 guidelines allow for that? Yes, absolutely. But that’s ultimately a decision that Nissan will make over the coming weeks and months.
“There have been a number of ongoing discussions between Supercars teams and manufacturers, and we’re supporting those discussions.
“I think this project certainly puts a clear stake in the ground that we as a category, as a sport, are open for business.
“We’re flexible with the guidelines that we operate under, and the Mustang due to the cultural and broad fan support for what Graeme and the teams are doing working with Ford Performance, is starting to heat up other conversations.”