Percat calls on Supercars buyer to reverse Gen3 paddle shift

A Gen3 Camaro render of Nick Percat’s R&J Batteries entry. Render: Peter Hughes

Supercars race winner Nick Percat is optimistic that an imminent change in category ownership will see the unpopular move to paddle shift avoided.

A sale process continues to unfold in the background as various bidders line up to acquire Archer Capital’s majority share in the business.

A buyer is hoped to be decided on before this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 – now to take place on November 4-7 – meaning Supercars’ next owner would have nine months in charge before the mooted competitive debut of Gen3 in August 2022.

Many are resigned to the fact Gen3 will see the current sequential gearbox replaced by paddle shift.

That’s despite most drivers and fans being opposed to the technology, which is viewed as lessening the skill involved with driving a Supercar, reducing the entertainment of watching onboard footage, and a general step away from the sport’s DNA.

While not familiar with all contending parties in the Supercars purchase process, Percat is confident the rival groups involving Mark Skaife and Paul Morris could yet rescue the situation.

“I think there is definitely an opportunity,” the Brad Jones Racing driver told Speedcafe.com.

“I don’t know if it is possible to be able to do it – from what I heard, this new chassis doesn’t even have any way of having the rod run from the gearstick back to the gearbox.

“But obviously that can all be changed, it’s not all finalised… be it Morris and his group, or Skaifey and TLA, I think there would be an opportunity there for them to change it.

“You have got Mark, who is obviously a pure racer and he believes in the DNA of the sport.

“And I know he was very big when we went to this current car on making sure that inside the car there was a lot happening and there was a gearstick and rollbar adjusters and stuff like that, because it is part of the show and the entertainment.

“We don’t need to have people tune in on the onboard and have it look like we’re doing 60km/h down the local street.

“So yeah, I think Paul or Mark, if they somehow ended up owning it – I don’t know how that all works – I think there would be an opportunity to make sure that the DNA of our sport continues.”

Nick Percat

Percat furthermore added his excitement at the potential for such an emotionally invested figurehead to take the reins.

“I think those two groups, they 100 percent understand what Supercars is and they 100 percent understand the Australian market and the fans,” he said.

“They have lived through the heyday of Supercars of the diehard fans everywhere and at every event loving what we do and appreciating it.

“I think from that side of things, that’s where we need to get back to and hopefully they can come up with a way to make it more entertaining on- and off-track… just get the vibe back of Supercar racing, of what it was.

“And between those two groups, I think they really do understand what Australia loves, so I think it would be pretty cool if one of them did [buy Supercars], but obviously I have no say in it.”

The Skaife and TLA partnership is considered the favourite to succeed Archer.

The exact status of the Morris consortium’s bid – which also comprises Peter Adderton, Pete Smith, Mick Doohan and Alan Gow – is not known, having opted for an alternative proposal involving a buyout of also Supercars’ teams’ collective 35 percent stake.

The Australian Racing Group is another entity in the hunt.

Should paddle shift be unavoidable, Percat has made peace with the prospect.

“To use one of my most hated phrases – it is what it is,” said the 2011 Bathurst 1000 winner, who recently had a contract extension with BJR confirmed.

“I’d still love it, it’s still a Supercar.

“At the end of the day I’d still be waking up thinking how lucky I am to drive a Supercar, so if it has paddles in it, so be it.”

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