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V8 turbos a consideration in engine cost saving drive

Tom Howard

Thursday 18th April, 2019 - 12:11pm

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Supercars is keen to cut cost on engines for the future pic: AJP Photography

Supercars may consider the introduction of V8 turbos as it looks to find way to cut engine costs and entice new manufacturers to the sport. 

Engines have emerged as the next item the series wishes to investigate with a view to reducing costs to make the championship more sustainable for teams.   

The series has already introduced a more cost effective transaxle and banned twin spring dampers to scale back costs in what is becoming a tough commercial climate that has seen two of the sport’s biggest teams Triple Eight and Tickford Racing hand back Racing Entitlements Contracts.

Currently engines are an area where teams are spending plenty of budget in search of maximising their five litre V8 units which produce approximately 645bhp.  

Holden and Ford both have developed pushrod blocks to nth degree while Kelly Racing has heavily developed an overhead cam engine, with these costing in the region of $120,000 to build. 

Supercars came close to introducing V6 twin turbos through Triple Eight before the unfavourable plan was ultimately shelved last year.

However, the prospect of more cost effective V8 turbos coming onto the motorsport scene is an area up for consideration as the series looks to save costs while keeping itself relevant with manufacturers.

It would likely mean that enigne power could be reduced. 

“Engines is a big ticket item. Anything we can do to save money that doesn’t impact the show for fans, but also improves racing, we want to do. Linear springs, it’s a perfect example of how we arrived at that,” Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said on the Below the Bonnet podcast.

“It’s unbelievable that the engine builders and teams – with the exception of Nissan, which is an overhead cam engine – get pushrod engines to do what they do. They’re on the limit and they’re extremely expensive to build. Sometimes more than ($120,000).

“The thing that I feel we got a little bit lost on was that a turbo engine meant that it couldn’t be a V8. 

“If you look at what’s going on in the US, four-litre V8 twin-turbos are starting to be looked at. I think Lexus is looking at one for their GT programme over there. If you listen to an AMG going down Collins Street (in Melbourne), that’s a four-litre V8 twin-turbo. You can make them sound good, you can bring that excitement.

“We know that we need to deliver a visceral experience to fans. It’s got to be loud and it’s got to be proud. But that doesn’t mean that different types of induction shouldn’t be considered, as long as it adds to the show.

“Hypothetically speaking, if you can put a five-litre V8 supercharged engine in that’s going to cost $40,000 and you’re only going to have to rebuild it twice, why wouldn’t you look at it?”

Reducing engine power slightly while adopting turbo technology could help in enticing new manufacturers to the sport, according to Seamer. 

Supercars is currently in the process of forming a manufacturers’ council to discuss ideas as it attempts to nail down its regulations from 2021 onwards. 

“It’s a hard (horsepower) number to hit, too – if you ask Todd Kelly or some of the other guys that have brought in new engines, they’ll admit that hitting the number is not easy,” Seamer added.

“If we pull the number back a little bit, what else can we do, so that it doesn’t slow the cars down too much and they still look likely. Those discussions are going on.

“One of the hardest parts to get someone to come in is getting an engine to hit that number. The work that we’ve done with Car of the Future, the work that we’re able to do with composites now, it means that you can make cars work at a pretty reasonable number, in terms of bring a new shape in. But the engine is the hard part.

“So that’s something we’ve got to focus on. The manufacturers are important, because they help us drive market relevance. If you talk about longevity and you talk about runway, we’re going through an exercise of, strategically, what do we want the grid to look like at Bathurst in 2021, 2022. 

“So let’s look at all the cars that we’d love to see out there. Let’s have a look at the CAD files of those cars. And then how can we make that work.

“We know that if we can be more reasonable in our expectations of what horsepower we want an engine to achieve, and how long we want that engine to last, then we can start to have broader conversations.”

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