Mus­cle Sport

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

The launch of two ex­cit­ing new – and very dif­fer­ent – rac­ing cat­e­gories: TCR and S5000.

Sun­day May 19, 2019 is shap­ing as a land­mark day in Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport his­tory. It’s when two new cat­e­gories si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­but, per­haps sig­nalling a shift­ing of sands on the lo­cal rac­ing land­scape.

It’s the day Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park hosts the open­ing rounds of the in­au­gu­ral cham­pi­onships for TCR Aus­tralia and S5000, two classes that could not be more dif­fer­ent in terms of ve­hi­cles, yet share many sim­i­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing man­age­ment by the Aus­tralian Rac­ing Group, headed by for­mer Su­per­cars man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Matt Braid.

If S5000 is the much-loved For­mula 5000 open-wheeler class rein­car­nated – see sep­a­rate story – its sta­ble­mate is the new-age Su­per Tour­ing. Of course, many long-time tin-top rac­ing en­thu­si­asts raised on a diet of Ford-ver­sus-Holden will roll their eyes and con­sider that two-litre tour­ers were tried un­suc­cess­fully two decades ago and will likely fail again this se­cond time around. But that ig­nores to­day’s very dif­fer­ent op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment and TCR’s in­cred­i­ble growth glob­ally on the back of af­ford­abil­ity – some­thing Su­per Tour­ing never pos­sessed.

As one veteran rac­ing jour­nal­ist was heard to ut­ter at TCR Aus­tralia’s me­dia and com­peti­tor launch event – with four mod­els on hand at SMP for demo and sam­ple laps – it’s a “new, im­proved ver­sion of Su­per Tour­ing framed from the les­sons of the past. It looks like it ad­dresses the fail­ings of the two-litre cars 20 years ago and the fail­ings of GT3 in keep­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ arms race in check.”

TCR also hits the track in Oz as the Su­per­cars cat­e­gory faces road car rel­e­vancy is­sues and an un­cer­tain fu­ture in the wake of the Aussie-built Com­modore’s and Fal­con’s ex­tinc­tion. In con­trast, the road­go­ing C-seg­ment mod­els that pop­u­late TCR grids con­tinue to sell in signi cant num­bers. In any case, TCR Aus­tralia is be­ing po­si­tioned as sup­ple­men­tary to Su­per­cars rather than a ri­val.

Thir­teen mod­els are cur­rently ho­molo­gated, 10 of which are sold lo­cally. El­i­gi­ble mod­els are Honda Civic, VW Golf, Audi RS3, SEAT Leon, Ford Fo­cus, Alfa Romeo Gi­uletta, Kia Cee’d GT, Lada Vesta, Peu­geot 308, Re­nault Me­gane, Hyundai i30N, Subaru WRX and Opel As­tra. The lat­ter sports a Holden badge in Aus­tralia...

That list doesn’t yet in­clude mod­els from Ja­panese pow­er­houses Toy­ota, Nis­san and Mazda, whose en­try, Braid says, is at the fea­si­bil­ity study stage off the back of TCR Ja­pan’s launch in the land of the ris­ing sun, also in 2019.

TCR stands for ‘Tour­ing Car Rac­ing’ and is the brain­child of for­mer World Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship pro­moter, Mar­cello Lotti. The Ital­ian cre­ated TCR’s reg­u­la­tions with the aim of pro­duc­ing a cost-ef­fec­tive tour­ing car class while still in­volv­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers. He repli­cated suc­cess­ful el­e­ments of the GT3 cat­e­gory model that has at­tracted mul­ti­ple man­u­fac­tur­ers to cre­ate cars to be sold to cus­tomers and raced glob­ally. But whereas new GT3 cars have dou­bled or tripled in price over the last decade – McLaren’s new 720S GT3 will cost Aus­tralians over $800,000 to pur­chase and put on track here – TCR cars are price-capped in the re­gion of $200,000.

The TCR for­mula is based around pro­duc­tion-based turbo-charged two litre, four-cylin­der, petrol or diesel front-wheel drive hatch­backs and sedans.

While com­peti­tors are a race se­ries’ ul­ti­mate cus­tomers, AMC also ex­pects the class to ap­peal to spec­ta­tors and view­ers who will ap­pre­ci­ate the re­ten­tion of pro­duc­tion bodyshell’s and pro­duc­tion-based en­gines, the lat­ter good for about 260kW and 420Nm. Sus­pen­sion lay­out must be re­tained to keep costs down.

Grids will be capped at 20 in 2019, with no more than ve ex­am­ples of any one model per­mit­ted in sea­son one. The seven-round se­ries com­prises SMP, May 19; Phillip Is­land, June 9; The Bend, July 14; Queens­land Race­way, Au­gust 4; Win­ton, Sep­tem­ber 1; Sandown, Sep­tem­ber 22 and The Bend, 15-17 Novem­ber. Race week­ends will fea­ture three 30-minute races. The tele­vi­sion pack­age was not yet con rmed as this is­sue closed for press.

ARG fea­tures a con­sor­tium of Aus­tralian busi­ness­men in­clud­ing Brian Boyd (PAYCE) and John McMel­lan (for­merly the chief of Wil­son Se­cu­rity).

A num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer Su­per­cars iden­ti­ties at­tended the launch, in­clud­ing team own­ers Brad Jones and Garry Rogers, driv­ers Chaz Mostert and Ja­son Bright, and pre­vi­ous CEO James War­bur­ton.

TCR Aus­tralia’s launch was held ex­actly six months be­fore the class’s May 19 de­but, with a num­ber of team and driver an­nounce­ments ex­pected as the cat­e­gory – and the sport – heads to what could be a mile­stone day. Mo­men­tum is quickly gath­er­ing.

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