The new Holden Commodore which is also the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Buick Regal will be the country’s next Gen2 Supercar… what will challenge it?

THE RELEASE OF the new Holden Commodore coincided with virtual confirmation the company’s Supercar program would follow the lead of the road car and ditch the V8 – in this instance for a turbo six-cylinder engine.

While that’s not really a major shock after months of conjecture, what it does do is set a Gen2 agenda for Supercars.

Given no one took up the rules to change engine configurations or change body shapes for 2016 or 2017, Holden’s 2018 car will set the standard for what to expect. That’s important to consider, because in a parity formula, why would any carmaker want to utilise a performance car to take on what is essentially a large family sedan?

Nissan’s remote chance of bringing back the GT-R have probably ended here – though an engine change could apply. Likewise, Ford – in whatever capacity – may hesitate to put something prestigious like a Mustang up against it.

The idea of a hero car losing to a family one is branding suicide.

It’s not all bad however, with one-plus-one talk of Kia joining the series in 2018 (with Gary Rogers Motorsport) and the medium to large sedan segment fairly chockers in terms of models, there’s potential for plenty of new brands and cars

Holden is the first to commit and therefore gets the rights to see how the others want to play it.

Rosberg’s replacement

F1’s silly season took a surprise turn with the announcement of Nico Rosberg’s retirement. So rather than speculate on who gets the seat, let’s consider what’s in store for the person who earns a set of white Mercedes overalls.

Firstly, there’s no guarantee it’ll be the next car in 2017. The engine rules are the same, which is an advantage to teams with a Merc donk, but the aero and tyre regulations are significantly different.

And while Honda and Renault have improved their engines, the team that best adjusts to the increased grip levels will likely be the front-runner.

And if that’s a team like Red Bull, it’s likely to have two drivers pushing for the title in Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Would Mercedes want to have a two vs two battle, or just focus on Hamilton?

And if Nico Rosberg, who arrived in the sport a decade ago as one of the most intelligent, best prepared, genetically-blessed and naturally talented drivers was exhausted after going head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton, why would anyone but a select few feel they could do differently?

Remember when Heikki Kovalainen did it at McLaren? Or when Sergio Perez replaced him? Both failed to match the hype.

The grass isn’t always greener.

Our backyard is alright

Shane van Gisbergen made an interesting comment after sealing his maiden Supercars title. While he is undoubtedly talented and has proved it in a number of different cars, he still sees the Aussie series as the pinnacle of racing.

For all his extra-curricular activity internationally, he says he does it to stay on top of his game locally.

Which makes you think, outside of NASCAR, where else could drivers of this calibre step up? GT series are growing, but are largely broken down by smaller regions. You’d need to do a few to cover the same racing Supercars does. The World Endurance Championship only has eight events. The tiny touring cars of the BTCC and WTCC aren’t going to appeal after a Supercar.

Perhaps the competitiveness of the local championship is greater than we realise.

12 Hour oversubscribed

The Bathurst 12 Hour is continuing to build its profile, with a bumper grid already announced for the February 5 race

A host of GT3 entries from Bentley, Porsche, Nissan, BMW, Ferrari, Audi, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz will headline the field.

But beyond the cars competing for outright glory, current-spec Carrera Cup racers are eligible while the growing GT4 field will have a new KTM X-Bow. The invitational class will also feature the popular Australian-built V8 Ford Focuses and Mazda 3s and a Daytona Coupe.

So something for everyone.


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About Author

Lewis Isaacs

Lewis Isaacs is an award-winning motorsport journo who has written for a number of leading sports and motoring titles. Most of his transport is two-wheeled, but he is happy to drive whatever is in front of him and ask too many questions.

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