Lexus to enter V8 Supercars?
Lexus Australia CEO Sean Hanley says an entry into V8 Supercars with the Lexus RC-F is “something we would consider” if eligibility rules were to change.
YESTERDAY, AT THE launch of the 2015 Lexus RC 350 Coupe in Melbourne, Lexus Australia CEO Sean Hanley let it be known that participation in the V8 Supercar series was certainly on his radar.
He said, “It’s definitely flagged my interest that should eligibility for V8 Supercars change, it’s something we would consider”. He then went on to admit that Lexus has been in “high level discussions with V8 Supercars” before trying to hose down speculation by declaring, somewhat unconvincingly, “But there are no concrete plans.”
Of course, things would have to change considerably before a Lexus could take to the track in the V8 Supercars series. For one thing, the RC 350 is only presently available as a coupe, not a four-door sedan and if there are any plans to bring the V8 RC-F to Australia, nobody at Lexus Australia is admitting it. But Hanley did say that “the RC-F may be a contender (in the V8 Supercar competition). We are certainly interested and it‘s not the closed door it was two years ago” and that he has his people looking into both viability and the potential return on investment.
According to some reports, participation in V8 Supercar racing by Mercedes-Benz has not brought the results that were hoped for. On the other hand, both Nissan and Volvo seem hugely satisfied with the exposure and image boost brought about by their involvement.
Perhaps a more logical fit for Lexus would be to compete in the Bathurst 12-Hour, the endurance race for GT and production cars held at Mount Panorama in February each year. The race was first held in 1991 for Series Production cars and moved to Eastern Creek Raceway in 1995 before being discontinued. It was reborn in 2007 at Bathurst, initially for production cars until GT cars were included in 2011. Inspired by the Bathurst 1000km event, it was intended to capture the original spirit of the event.
However, the Bathurst 12-Hour has failed to excite Aussie motor racing fans to anything like the degree of the Bathurst 1000, although 2013 saw a record field of more than 50 cars competing and a worldwide television audience of half a million. The 2015 event will be broadcast in its entirety by the Seven Network (and 7Mate) which could substantially raise the profile of event.
Under the current rules, V8 Supercars are defined as large scale Production Touring Cars, but the rules can be changed. In 2012, the only cars specified in the regulations were defined as “5-litre, Australian produced, right-hand drive, four door cars, fitted with pushrod two-valve normally aspirated V8 engines.” However, the regulations also stipulate that “the V8 Supercar formula will be subject to amendment by the Board of V8 Supercars to maintain exciting and entertaining competition. V8 Supercars reserves the right to add additional models as they are submitted for approval by each manufacturer.”
The rules were changed to allow Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo to enter the competition. It is not unimaginable that the rules could be further changed to include Lexus.
We’d like to see that, what about you? Let us know by leaving a comment below.