Holden stays, HRT brand moves

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Sport -


has al­layed fears it would end its long in­volve­ment in Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport by an­nounc­ing Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing will rep­re­sent the Red Lion in the Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship for three sea­sons from next year. In the big­gest tour­ing car news of 2016, the Holden Rac­ing Team brand will move from Walkin­shaw Rac­ing to the newly named Red Bull Holden Rac­ing Team. Two V8-en­gined VF Com­modores will be en­tered un­der the new ban­ner in 2017 for Jamie Whin­cup and Shane van Gis­ber­gen.

Triple Eight will also de­velop a Su­per­cars ver­sion of the next gen­er­a­tion Com­modore on be­half of Holden, to de­but in 2018. This will be based on the 2017 Opel In­signia road car that is ex­pected to be of­fi­cially con­firmed as the first fully-im­ported Com­modore. The 2018 Su­per­cars Com­modore is likely to be pow­ered by a turbo six, re­flect­ing the pow­er­plant in the re­badged In­signia, which will not be of­fered with a V8.

Mov­ing the HRT brand is a ma­jor blow to Walkin­shaw Rac­ing, which has op­er­ated as the fac­tory team un­der the Holden-owned HRT brand since 1990. The ar­range­ment net­ted no fewer than seven Bathurst 1000 vic­to­ries in that pe­riod, in­clud­ing the 1996 vic­tory by Craig Lown­des and Greg Mur­phy that’s the fo­cus of this is­sue’s cover story.

Holden’s de­ci­sion to move the HRT moniker, sig­ni­fy­ing fac­tory sta­tus for a team, will cre­ate a third dis­tinct chap­ter in the his­tory of the iconic brand.

The HRT name­plate was cre­ated in 1989, when Larry Perkins was ap­pointed to field VL Com­modores in se­lected Group A events on be­half of Fish­er­mans Bend. It was a short-lived re­la­tion­ship as Tom Walkin­shaw se­cured the deal for the fol­low­ing sea­son, be­gin­ning a 26-year stretch – with the odd own­er­ship hic­cup along the way – that will end at this year’s Syd­ney 500 on De­cem­ber 4: the Home­bush event that has also reached the end of the road.

Where this leaves the two-car Walkin­shaw team re­mains to be seen. After Tom Walkin­shaw’s death in 2010, his widow Mar­tine and son Ryan took over the reins. The lat­ter, in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the bomb­shell, pledged to press on.

Triple Eight’s undis­puted sta­tus as Holden’s spear­head is the re­al­i­sa­tion of Ir­ish-born team supremo Roland Dane’s long-held am­bi­tion. Not only will Triple Eight de­velop, build and race the next-gen­er­a­tion Com­modore Su­per­car, the Queens­land op­er­a­tion will also be the ex­clu­sive sup­plier of cars to other non-fac­tory teams. Ex­actly what this means is not yet clear, with the likes of Brad Jones Rac­ing ex­pect­ing to still be able to build their own cars from T8­sup­plied kits.

Ama­roo Park Fe­bru­ary 1990

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