Supercars close to ditching paddle shift, auto blip for Gen3

The Gen3 specification For Mustang (back) and Chevrolet Camaro. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

Supercars is looking increasingly likely to abandon plans to move to an electronically assisted gear shifter with the advent of Gen3, has learnt.

The move away from the current manually operated gear shift seen in the Gen2 cars to an electronically actuated gear shift with Gen3 has been a hotly contested topic.

Now, it has become apparent that the introduction of an electronic actuator might not happen; and instead, the manually operated gear shift could remain.

It’s understood the technical complexity of the new mechanism, the electronic actuator, is at the heart of the proposal to ditch it entirely.

The issue is related to the Xtrac transaxle, which has been used since 2019 in place of the Albins unit of old.

While the Xtrac set-up is flexible in that it can be operated manually or electronically, it is believed the Gen3 prototypes have suffered from technical gremlins that may prove too difficult and/or costly to overcome.

Under the new set-up seen in the Gen3 prototypes, gear changes are made by triggering a paddle shifter or lever which sends a signal to the electronic actuator to move up or down a gear. understands the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang both suffered issues during a shakedown at Queensland Raceway.

Add to that, there is said to be significant pressure from behind the scenes to maintain the status quo, including from key player Mark Skaife who is intrinsically linked to the new Supercars ownership group, Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises Ltd (RACE).

While it is believed there is momentum building towards abandoning the new set-up, a decision has not yet been formalised either way.

The new-look Supercars rolled out at this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 and received a largely positive reception, readers voting 75 percent in support of the formula.

However, at the Gen3 launch, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer engaged in a heated press conference which was dominated by discussions surrounding paddle shift and auto blip.

Seamer said at the time a decision would be made in two weeks as to whether an electronic or manual shift would be implemented.

“We’ve got to make a call, I think, in two weeks, because we’ve got to lock down the specifications,” Seamer said when asked by about the timeline for a decision.

“If they’re going to have a manual shift, we’re going to have to make some changes to the engines just to protect them.”

There are a range of reasons why Supercars has sought to go down a new path.

The introduction of an electronic actuator to the transaxle would remove the need to manually blip the throttle.

In doing so, that would decrease the likelihood of damaging an engine by over-revving on downshifts.

Scenes like those at Mount Panorama earlier this year where Tim Slade lost control under brakes on approach to Forrest’s Elbow would be less likely as shifting too early would be restricted.

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