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The new generation of V8 Supercar racing in Australia was revealed at Bathurst on Friday - and it takes the sport back to its roots. Specifically, the new Ford Mustang GT and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 are significantly closer to the road-going model they’re based on.
The new-look cars are much closer to what you find on the street, with many of the panels effectively interchangeable between the two - something that cannot be said for the current highly-modified Mustang and Holden Commodore.
While all panels are made from composite materials to save cost and weight, the doors, bonnet, boot and roof, as well as the lights and glasshouse, are all identical in dimensions to the road-going equivalents.
To provide a more aggressive and purposeful look, both models feature ‘pumped out’ front and rear guards, as well as racing-style front spoiler and a rear wing.
Under the bonnet both models are powered by all-new engines, replacing the 5.0-litre V8s used in the current racers. The Ford will use a 5.4-litre V8 based on the same ‘Coyote’ architecture as the road-going Mustang, while the Camaro features a 5.7-litre V8 ‘LTR’.
The Camaro uses a larger capacity engine because it uses older technology than the Ford, with only two-valve per cylinder and a single camshaft. In contrast the Mustang engine has four-valve per cylinder and four camshafts, meaning the two engines extract the same performance despite being different sizes.
This move towards more production-like cars has helped renew the interest of both Ford and GM, not only in Australia but at their US headquarters. Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook was enroute to Bathurst for the unveiling only to be stopped in a 72-hour quarantine, while GM’s global racing boss, Jim Campbell, sent a recorded message to the unveiling.
“There is no question when you look at the Mustang GT Gen3 Supercar that this is a Mustang,” Rushbrook said. “It absolutely looks the part, which was focus one for us in the design and development phase for this vehicle,” said Rushbrook.
“The fact that it’s powered by a production-based Ford engine is the icing on the cake,” he added.
Also on hand for the reveal of the Gen3 cars was Ford Australia president, Andrew Birkic, and GM Australia and New Zealand managing director, Mark Ebolo.
The introduction of Chevrolet Racing will act as an umbrella brand for all of General Motors’ local operations on track, which will allow it to leverage elements of GM Specialty Vehicles, AC Delco and Holden heritage.
GM’s decision to stay involved with local motor racing in the wake of Holden’s closure, and despite the fact there is no intention to sell the Camaro here under the GMSV banner, is a major boost for Supercars organisers.
“I think it’s important that we’ve got alignment with the US, they’ve just launched their Camaro in NASCAR,” Ebolo said. “We start to see this alignment between our brands and our markets. As a motorsport entry, a focused motorsport entry, we believe the look, the feel, the passion of this car is going to generate unbelievable excitement for all of our brands.”
He added: “[Motorsport is] very important, we know just how powerful motorsport is in terms of passion and the support that it has for all of our business units. We believe it is an absolute core pillar of our business going forward.”
The Gen3 cars will undergo a testing and homologation process overseen by Supercars Australia throughout 2022, with testing to take place at a variety of tracks to ensure even competition between the two new cars. Teams will then debut the cars at the opening round of the 2023 season, scheduled for the Newcastle street circuit.