To all those who’ve been living under a rock (perhaps Dick’s) for the last couple of years, this weekend’s Clipsal 500 season opener in Adelaide marks a significant moment in Australian motorsport history.
For the first time in the 16 years of the V8 Supercars formula, the series will include manufacturers other than Ford and Holden, with Nissan and AMG Mercedes-Benz taking the manufacturer count to four.
Of the 28 entries, 15 will be Holden VF Commodore-based, six will wear Ford FG Falcon bodies, with four Nissans based on the upcoming Altima road car and three Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG-based racers rounding off the rookies.
Nissan is represented by the factory-backed Nissan Motorsports team - formerly the Holden-aligned Kelly Racing - and will field four cars piloted by Todd Kelly, Rick Kelly, James Moffat, and Michael Caruso.
Erebus will use a 5.0 litre version of the M156 V8 used by SLS AMG GT3 racers.
The remaining Ford and Holden-aligned teams will continue with their respective 5.0 litre homologated V8 engines from the 2012 season.
Car of the Future
Motivating the introduction of new brands is the inception of the Car of The Future (COTF) regulations, requiring all teams to use a control chassis, with all key dimensions and driveline components - aside from the engine - shared among the field.
The COTF chassis are the first V8 Supercars to share nothing with their road car brethren, aside from selected exterior panels and lighting.
This change has been implemented to improve driver safety, reduce costs, better ensure performance parity, and to future proof the sport by allowing additional manufacturers to enter regardless of whether they produce a roadgoing large rear-wheel drive sedan.
Key innovations for COTF include independent rear suspension, rear-mounted transaxle transmission, centrally-mounted fuel cell, larger 18 inch wheels and tyres to permit larger brakes, and engines relocated 100mm lower and further rearward for better weight distribution.
Front and rear windscreens are now also made from polycarbonate - as other windows have been for some time - which is 250 times stronger than glass.
V8 Supercars Australia has undertaken significant testing to ensure parity of aerodynamic elements and engine outputs, in the interest of ensuring a level playing field.
2012 Dominant Triple Eight and FPR
The move represents a change in major sponsor from Vodafone, and the day-glo orange of recent years has made way for a new navy blue colour scheme.
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is similarly now wearing predominantly Pepsi Max liveries on the factory-backed Fords of Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom.
Fellow FPR driver David Reynolds will continue with Bottle-O signage on his racer, while new recruit (and brother of Will) Alex Davison will drive with Jeld Wen signage similar to that worn by James Courtney during his SBR days.
Several driver movements have taken place during the off season, but the biggest news would be the unexpected return of Shane Van Gisbergen.
Van Gisbergen has now signed to race for Holden outfit Tekno Autosports after backflipping on his departure from the sport and his unfinished contract with Stone Brothers Racing/Erebus Motorsport at the end of 2012.
Van Gisbergen’s seat at the now Erebus Motorsport is now occupied by German former DTM racer Maro Engel.
Series veteran Steve Johnson has stepped aside from full-time driving duties due to the financial pressures facing his Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) team, with his seat being filled by category rookie Jonny Reid.
Johnson has assumed the role of General Manager at DJR, and will compete in the Carrera Cup series - ironically in the same Porsche 911 raced by Reid in 2012.
Touring car legend Greg Murphy has also ended his full-time V8 Supercar career after a disastrous 2012 championship and failing to secure a drive for 2013, but will return to the Hodlen Racing Team for the 2013 endurance races.
The 2013 championship will see two circuit location changes, with the most significant being the addition of the Texas 400 in May, the first time the series will race on US soil.
Gone is the Abu Dhabi round after three years due to scheduling conflicts with the coinciding Formula 1 round, and the ITM 400 New Zealand round in April will return to an upgraded Pukekohe circuit for the first time since 2007.
Be sure to keep an eye on TMR after each 2013 V8 Supercar round for our regular wrapup and championship updates.
2013 V8 Supercar Championship Calendar
- Round 1: Clipsal 500 Adelaide - Adelaide Street Circuit Feb 28-March 3
- Non-Championship: Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix - Albert Park March 14-17
- Round 2: Tasmania 360 - Symmons Plains April 5-7
- Round 3: ITM 400 Auckland - Pukekohe Park April 12-14
- Round 4: Perth 360 - Barbagallo May 3-5
- Round 5: Texas 400 - Circuit of the Americas May 17-19
- Round 6: Skycity Darwin Triple Crown - Hidden Valley June 14-16
- Round 7: Sucrogen Townsville 400 - Townsville Street Circuit July 5-7
- Round 8: Coates Hire Ipswich 360 - Queensland Raceway July 27-28
- Round 9: Winton 360 - Winton Raceway August 23-25
- Round 10: Sandown 500 - Sandown Raceway September 13-15
- Round 11: Supercheap auto Bathurst 1000 - Mount Panorama October 10-13
- Round 12: Armor All Gold Coast 600 - Surfers Paradise Street Circuit October 25-27
- Round 13: Phillip Island 400 - Phillip Island November 23-24
- Round 14: Sydney 500 - Homebush Street Circuit December 6-8
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