Roland’s View: The Gen3 delay is not such a big deal

The Gen3 Camaro prototype during a test at Queensland Raceway in January 2023

The Gen3 Camaro prototype during a test at Queensland Raceway in January 2023

Reading some of the stories and subsequent comments regarding the delay of 10 days for Supercar team Gen3 rollouts, you’d think it was the end of the world.

It isn’t.

First and foremost, any race team worth its salt is used to having to work with their respective backs against the wall. It might not be ideal, it might not be what everyone would plan to do, but it’s a part of racing. Every team that’s been around for any length of time has had to build and/or repair cars in unrealistic timeframes in the past – whether that’s at the start of a season or during the year as a result of damage. I don’t see any team currently racing in the Supercars main series that isn’t capable of that, and most have proven their ability to get the job done many times.

The delays in getting onto the track can be, as has been widely reported, attributed to the late delivery of parts to teams. Now, I’m not going to get into all the whys and wherefores as to reasons behind many of the delays, maybe that can wait for The Book. I’ll just say that, at this juncture, there’s no point in crying over spilt milk.

Many of the required parts are in fact now sitting in team workshops and have been for some time. But a race car is a big jigsaw and most of it only goes together and can be finished when all the parts are to hand. And that’s been an issue, with a few critical parts delaying the fitment of a host of others.

Meanwhile, the majority of parts have continued to be validated on the two prototype cars including engines. So, whilst there will always be risk around the supply of a small percentage of components on the production cars (where a supplier goes from one-off manufacture to production supply, for instance) the risk is not huge. Some of the race teams involved are innovators and have some very resourceful people working amongst them. If there are sizeable issues thrown up in the Gen3 team rollouts, I would back them to sort the problems and work tirelessly to deal with them to the benefit of all.

I personally have been in this pre-season situation over decades a number of times both in the UK and here in Australia, as have several other people in the category. The stories are endless, but one that springs to mind relates to the start of the 1998 British Touring Car Championship in the Super Touring class era.

We’d ordered some top-spec drive shafts for the GM Vectra from Pankl in Austria, one of the most respected companies in the sport. The lead time was 12 weeks so, due to late sign-off of the design by us (engineers in any industry will continue to design and fiddle right up to the last moment if left to do so!), the parts were due to arrive two days before the first test of the brand-new cars. They arrived on time but they were too short by 25mm; totally our fault as the relevant designer had made an error, his last one for Triple Eight. But we had to do something as Pankl couldn’t deliver new parts until after the first race…

The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro Gen3 Supercars at the 2022 Adelaide 500

The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro Gen3 Supercars at the 2022 Adelaide 500

We made some replacement shafts between our own machine shop and another local one in less than 48 hours that were very far from optimal, and using substandard material, but they got us testing and then through the first race meeting. When I say we had our fingers crossed all the way through, you’ll appreciate that’s a total understatement. But we got the job done.

These things happen, and they’ve happened to every top race team in the world at one time or another. So, if the Gen3 shakedowns do reveal more issues than would be ideal, I don’t doubt the ability of the best people to put their heads together to overcome them and get the cars to Newcastle on time.

At the same time, the lack of testing and preparation time will make the first event extremely interesting, I suspect. There might be more luck involved in the results than is ideal, but there also might be opportunities for risk-takers to shine.

In 2012, the last year of the Blueprint Supercars, only FPR (now Tickford) and Triple Eight won races. But in 2013, the first year of the Car of The Future, eight different teams won at least one race. In the end, the cream will rise to the top, as it should. But there will probably be some changes in the pecking order as some driver get to grips with the cars faster than others or even simply turn out to be more competitive overall in a Gen3 car with substantially less downforce than the previous cars carried.

For the real fans (rather than the inevitable highly negative keyboard warriors) I’d suggest that we sit back and enjoy the ride through these next couple of months as the season gets going, whilst also sympathising no end with the hard yards that the teams and many of the suppliers are putting in and, in fact, will continue to put in during the first half of the season in particular. It’ll be a credit to all of them when the grid is set at Newcastle for the first race.

Last week’s Roland’s View: Is there a case for a Cost Cap in Supercars?

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