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Morris calls for ‘big stick’ to rein in Supercars costs

Daniel Herrero

Tuesday 25th June, 2019 - 5:14pm

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Cost cutting is a key issue facing Supercars at present

Paul Morris has called for a ‘big stick’ approach to rein in the costs of competing in Supercars, rather than allowing teams to influence technical specifications.

Morris attributed the involvement of teams in key decisions for an escalation in the costs of componentry and even the chassis itself.

Speaking in the latest episode of Enforcer & The Dude, Morris said that cost pressures are the reason he no longer competes as a team owner in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

He argued that a single decision-maker from Supercars needed to dictate stricter technical specifications to the teams for their own good.

“Someone’s got to come along with a big stick,” said Morris.

“It’s flawed, they (team owners/team principals) can’t be involved in it. You need a dictator to go, ‘Boys, this is what you’re going to be racing, because you guys can’t work it out.’”

Morris highlighted what he perceives to be freedoms unwisely allowed to teams despite the introduction of Car of the Future (COTF) in 2013.

A COTF rolling chassis was originally supposed to have cost around 25 percent less than its Project Blueprint predecessor.

Instead, costs actually escalated, and were recently understood to be around $600,000 for a complete car (including all mechanicals).

“Everything’s controlled (until) we get to the front of the car and nothing’s controlled forward from (the firewall),” noted Morris.

“The big thing why they didn’t do it was redundancy; what they didn’t want to have is have the teams have to make a new front end, so everything had to be new from the back part of the car but they stopped it (at the front end).

“It was (actually) politics, it was nothing to do with saving money; it was teams trying to protect their IP in the front end of their car.

“The argument to keep all of this was redundancy, but since then, everyone’s had 20 different versions of a front end and they’re still making new ones now.

“The whole thing should have been controlled. Anywhere the teams can spend money and develop, they’ll spend money, and they spend a fortune in this area.”

According to Morris, a major motivation for Car of the Future was to achieve economies of scale through purchasing of chassis from a single manufacturer.

While the Project Blueprint specification allowed for chassis to be designed with regard to the shape of the road car, COTF is a common chassis across all models.

However, teams continue to build chassis themselves.

“The big reason why we went to a control chassis was, hopefully, one person would build them all, so you get economies of scale, but it never happened that way,” he explained.

“All the teams just ended up building their own anyway, so the price never went down. You never had bulk purchasing and you never had bulk distribution of parts.

“The idea was always to have a parts truck where if you had a transaxle problem or an upright problem, you could go to a centralised parts truck.

“It never happened, the teams got control of it, started building their own chassis again, and all you did was change the design and didn’t save any money.

“Teams got involved, (and) messed it up.”

Paul Morris Motorsport entered the V8 Supercars Championship in 2000 and left as a competitor in 2012, after which it leased its sole remaining Racing Entitlements Contract for one more year before selling it to Dick Johnson Racing.

Morris continued to contest the Super2 Series, as a driver and/or team owner, until the end of the previous season.

He now fields an FG Falcon in the Super3 Series, which remains the domain of Project Blueprint-specification cars, as well as running cars in the Toyota 86 Racing Series.

While examining the expensive front uprights which are used on modern day Supercars in Enforcer & The Dude, Morris cited the exorbitant costs of such components as the reason for staying out of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

“People say to me, ‘Why don’t you get back into Supercars?’” he recounted.

“This is the reason why I don’t want to get back into Supercars.”

Supercars currently has a tender open for the possible introduction of control dampers from next year and is also investigating other technical changes designed to address costs and/or improve racing.

It has already banned the use of twin-spring dampers and switched to a more reliable control transaxle this year.

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