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Supercars aims to expand wildcard opportunities

Tom Howard

Wednesday 19th December, 2018 - 11:59am

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23Red Racing is already contemplating a wildcard for next year

Supercars is aiming to expand the opportunities for teams to field wildcard entries next season, according to series boss Sean Seamer.

The championship is actively encouraging teams to enter wildcards in 2019 to complement the regular 24 car field which will participate next year.

A move to increase wildcard entries has been a focus for Supercars in recent years following the successful launch of the Super2 wildcard program in 2017.

The initiative has seen several Super2 competitors join the main game field at selected events, including Winton, Darwin, Queensland Raceway and new for this year The Bend Motorsport Park.

However, this year only saw Macauley Jones (Brad Jones Racing) and Kurt Kostecki (Kostecki Brothers Racing) utilise the program.

With the Supercars field shrinking to 24 cars following the return of two Racing Entitlements Contracts, Seamer is keen to see more wildcards on the grid in 2019.

“We’ve got 24 brilliant cars, we’ve also got a great wildcard program,” said Seamer.

“We’ll expand the opportunity for wildcards, which I think is fantastic, for Super2 or anybody that may be interested in driving.

“There’s not many fields around the world operating at a calibre that ours are, only separated by tenths, so it (24 car grids) won’t have any impact on the show.”

Teams have always had the option of fielding wildcards at events with the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 often earmarked as an opportunity to embrace the system.

However, a tough sponsorship climate has put paid to recent wildcard efforts.

Walkinshaw Andretti United investigated a Bathurst wildcard for this year before deferring plans for 2019.

The last time the event included a wildcard was the Harvey Norman Supergirls entry for Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie in 2016.

Seamer believes that an increase in availability of ZB Commodores, now it has had a year in production, and more vacant garages will help ease the process of fielding a wildcard next year.

“We’ve got to keep in mind that one of the biggest challenges that we have around wildcards is having current vehicles,” added Seamer.

“Obviously this year you had the ZB, so you needed a new car if you wanted to run a Holden, and next year we’ve got the Mustang, so that’s a challenge, making sure you’ve got the current platform to be competitive.

“The second thing is, operationally down to garage space, making sure you’ve got the engineers and the crews to do it.

“With a bit more garage space that alleviates that issue. There are a few more ZBs available now than there were at the start of last year.

“We’ll continue to make it as easy as possible for someone to run a wildcard, but ultimately it comes down to the team and the model they put around it.”

Talk of wildcards for next year has already begun with 23Red Racing building up a spare Mustang that could be fielded at one-off events.

Erebus Motorsport is also evaluating the prospect of entering a Mercedes E63 Supercar for Luke Youlden in Supercars and Super2 races.

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