The recently announced changes to the BNT V8 race formats will add plenty of excitement to the New Zealand V8 touring car scene and provide an incentive for teams to compete, says category manager Gary Lathrope.
As reported yesterday by Velocity News, BNT V8s revealed a revised race format and technical regulations ahead of its next season which will also mark the first year the category will adopt the TA2 formula.
The first batch of TA2 cars will race alongside the current iteration of NZ V8 Touring Cars under the ‘BNT V8s’ banner.
However, the season will have a vastly different feel to previous years with the series announcing fresh race formats and to make the racing more appealing from a viewers’ perspective while offering a competitive platform teams will be willing to compete in.
The most significant change will see the series run one feature race with a compulsory pitstop at each event.
Alongside two sprint races, the feature race will offer more points to the winners of each class while the Balance of Power pitstops, aimed at equally the playing field, will provide a fresh element to a series which has unquestionably struggled to muster fan engagement and strong entry numbers in recent seasons.
Earlier in the year Motorsport New Zealand announced it will not be renewing the ‘New Zealand Touring Car Championship’ status of the BNT V8s, instead, awarding the title to the all-new TCR NZ class.
While initially disappointing, Lathrope admits the category is now a position to become more flexible with its sporting and technical regulations to give the series a clean slate to work off moving forward.
“As we are no longer a MSNZ Championship it’s given us an opportunity to be a bit more versatile,” Lathrope told Velocity News.
“There are quite a number of our cars that have been modified over the past few years and were not eligible for our MSNZ Championship, so by opening up the category it will hopefully give us more cars on the grid which is better for our fans and teams alike.
“Instead of trying to limit horsepower and other things we have come up with a better way to even out the field with limited technical regulations.
“The new format with the shorter Sprint Races will carry low points and the long-distance feature race with the Balance of Power (BOP) compulsory pitstop will have high points so it won’t matter if you’re in a TL Car or a Hot Rodded SuperTourer with the BOP if you lap consistently you will have just as much chance to win as anyone.
“We think this will add plenty of excitement for the fans and gives the teams a real incentive to do well.”
With the BNT V8 class set to adopt the same TA2 platform seen overseas in Australia over the coming seasons, Lathrope reemphasised the aim of having a Trans-Tasman challenge in the future.
But he stressed the relatively low sales of cars in New Zealand to date does mean the debut TA2 class in the country will morph with the BNT V8 formula for its maiden season.
“We will continue to do everything we can to grow our TTV8s TA2 grid as we see this as the future of V8 Racing in NZ. Australia has just sold their 50th Car this week and if we keep things moving here with our car sales there will be some amazing opportunities for true Trans-Tasman challenges in exactly the same cars in both NZ and Australia.
“At this stage, we have not committed to any particular Race Format for TTV8s/TA2 as a stand-alone category.”
A 2020/21 season calendar remains under wraps with an announcement of how the new season will look and the first NZ TA2 cars expected over the coming months.