Earlier this month, Walkinshaw Andretti United team owner Ryan Walkinshaw confirmed that the Supercars squad was in the process of getting a new manufacturer tie-up sorted for 2022.
It’s a hot topic in the Supercars paddock, as the series weighs up moving to a new generation of car in coming seasons and as it prepares for the sad but inevitable departure of Holden at the end of this year. The storied team has been connected to a range of different manufacturers over the last few seasons, and is considered to be one of the most likely groups to bring a new marque into the series.
VelocityNews has gone through what’s out there and rounded up the five brands we’d love to see join the Supercars fold; one with Bathurst-winning pedigree, another with championship-winning pedigree, and three that would be completely new entries to the series. Sort of.
The idea of Jaguar taking on Supercars might seem left-field at first, but remember — the brand has had a presence in this part of the world before. And, it did so through Ryan Walkinshaw’s father, Tom Walkinshaw.
The firm won the 1985 Bathurst 1000, the first year of Group A, so there is some local lineage to tug on. It also has a bevy of models it could use; from the large XF sedan, to the smaller XE, to even maybe the F-Type. Note that the latter pairing can be bought with a V8, too.
Is it likely? There was some low level scuttlebutt around that Jaguar were an initial front-runner to join the series. And, given the history between them it’s a nice idea.
But, there’s also significant industry talk suggesting that Jaguar is likely to ditch internal combustion engines altogether in the next few years. If that’s on the horizon, it’s unlikely that they’d want to back loud and proud series like Supercars.
Bavarian Motor Werks has been one of two brands linked most frequently to the WAU factory deal, namely because of the existing connection to the team’s new lead driver Chaz Mostert.
While BMW is currently poised to roll out a grand fully electric and hybrid roll-out among its road cars, it’s also still actively engaging with the sport. It just unveiled a new M4 GT3 racer, and in recent years returned in a factory capacity to the British Touring Car Championship. The idea of the former ATCC-winning marque returning to the fold would be hugely exciting.
Is it likely? Well, maybe. The brand has a multitude of bodyshell options among its ranks, and still has a need to validate all that ‘M-Performance’ marketing guff it sells in Australasian showrooms.
It’ll also be acutely aware of how tough Erebus Motorsport had it, when it tried to make the Mercedes-AMG E63 competitive at the turn of Car of the Future.
It’s Holden Special Vehicles, but not quite as we know it. The Victorian-based outfit announced a grand rebrand last week. It’s now known as General Motors Specialty Vehicles, and will largely handle the import and distribution of the new Chevrolet Corvette C8 and the conversion of Silverados.
Walkinshaw’s engineering division has already confirmed a partnership with GMSV which will see it initially provide support to the Silverado. It’s also logical that it will fettle the Chevrolet Camaro, too. But, the catch is that the Camaro is no longer for sale in Australasia.
The Camaro nameplate is on thin ice in the US, with some speculation that it’s under risk of being canned altogether. But hey, maybe that means they’ll consider a Corvette Supercar instead? The recent confirmation that Gen3 will allow for lower roof-lines would certainly help the justification.
It is likely? If the Camaro dodges death, then yes it seems pretty likely. Pitching it on track against its natural market rival, the Mustang, seems like a no-brainer. And there’s the opportunity there, too, to make a half decent business out of being the parts supply hub for any other team keen to run one.
Which, as it stands, could cover more than half the field.
Kia (or, what about Hyundai?)
It feels like Supercars has been trying its damndest to attract a manufacturer from Asia since the days of Project Blueprint. The fact that none have been forthcoming in all the years since is a big black mark next to the idea of one joining Walkinshaw.
Nevertheless, it’s also equally against the odds that a brand like Kia would make a fabulous giant-killing German-influenced rear-wheel drive sports sedan out of nowhere. But, they have in the form of the Stinger.
What’s arguably more interesting is sister-company Hyundai. The firm has just unveiled a new Sonata. It’s a totally different car under the skin compared to the Kia, being built on a front-driven platform and pitched more as a rival for Camrys and Optimas. But, there’s a performance-ish N-Line variant on the way.
Is it likely? Probably not so much for Kia, as nice as it would be. It may be a brilliant car, but the Stinger has been a hard sell globally. Some have suggested that the upcoming face-lift (which itself is very mild) might be its one and only update before going the way of the dodo.
Hyundai is probably more likely here, given the grand international spend the brand has put behind its new N division. It’s got a new ute on the way, and the market overlap between ute buyers and Supercars fans is undeniable.
Not least but last is another brand from Asia; Lexus.
Toyota is an elusive golden goose when it comes to Australian motorsport. They back the brilliant 86 series obviously, but they haven’t campaigned a car at Supercars level since the Supras of the mid-1980s.
You’d think that Supercars and Toyota’s luxury offshoot, Lexus, would be a perfect fit. They’ve produced plenty of rear-wheel drive V8s in recent years, and have a desire to be taken more seriously by the performance market.
Alas, Lexus is slowly pulling away from the whole V8 thing. It still produces one of the few naturally aspirated V8 engines, but applications for that engine are shrinking. The RC-F and upcoming IS replacement are probably the two best platforms of choice, although a rear-driven mid-size platform engineered in partnership with Mazda is apparently on the way, too.
Is it likely? On one hand, probably not. Lexus has had plenty of opportunities to get into the game, and is clearly aware of the series given how many safety car deals it’s inked. On the other hand, though, Toyota’s investment in motorsport is on the up, as evidenced by its barnstorming return to the World Rally Championship and its early agreement to race in the World Endurance Championship.