Roland Dane says the Gen3 is more about selling the Chevrolet and Ford brands Down Under than the Mustang and Camaro models themselves.
After Holden’s long-awaited death in 2020, Supercars is looking for a replacement through General Motors Specialty Vehicles.
As a result, Supercars will introduce Chevrolet to the grid in 2023 with the Camaro.
That’s even though the two-door muscle car isn’t on sale in Australian showrooms and looks set to be dropped from General Motors’ lineup altogether in just a few years.
For the Dane, whose Triple Eight Race Engineering is the championship homologation of General Motors, the addition of the Camaro to the grid is about a broader push for the Detroit auto giant.
General Motors Specialty Vehicles has begun to proliferate in the Australian and New Zealand automotive markets with its Chevrolet Silverado.
In the near future, the All-New Chevrolet Corvette C8 will also be sold below.
Dane noted Mustang sales relative to the Ranger, the latter being Australia’s second highest-selling new vehicle in 2020.
Last year more than 40,000 utes were sold while just under 3000 ponies were sold, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry.
“It’s about projecting those brands and making people feel good about those brands,” explains Dane in the latest episode Gen3 Unpacked.
“Manufacturers want to have their brand out there. They wanted to have a racing brand that wasn’t necessarily about the actual car they were racing.
“For example, Ford Ranger sells a Mustang 10 or 12 to one. So it’s really about selling Rangers, and for Chevrolet in this country, it’s really about selling Silverados.
“They’re very involved, right from the top, and I mean, the top GM in the United States,” added Dane.
“And it really shows you, and shows everyone how enthusiastic they are about this Gen3 race car.
“I think we’re helping ourselves a lot as a sport, keeping ourselves in the frame around the world as a major touring car category based on circuit racing.
“We need to have the credibility that those brands bring to help us have that status. Which is then fed to sponsors, fed to drivers, fed to media deals, and of course it’s all supported by our fan base hopefully.”
Since its inception, Supercars has had strong ties to manufacturers with factory-backed entries, notably from Ford and Holden.
The Championship started out as a production car-based category but over the years has changed to place more emphasis on tailor-made race cars in the modern era.
Now, Supercars are based on space frames, and use very few road auto parts.
To some extent, it becomes a problem for the category. It is widely considered that the aesthetics of the current spec Ford Mustang Gen2 are not particularly desirable.
That’s because of the two-door silhouette that stretches over the chassis that was originally designed for a four-door car.
In previous years, Walkinshaw Andretti United had hinted at the hope of bringing the Camaro to Supercars under Gen2, although the problems encountered with the Mustang eventually paid off for the plan.
It is hoped that the Gen3 will address that problem, with a lower profile about 100mm shorter than the Gen2 chassis and a design that caters to a wider range of body shapes, particularly two-door cars.
Supercars Motorsport head Adrian Burgess said having a Gen3 race car bear a closer resemblance to a road car was fundamental in trying to attract more manufacturers.
“The relevance of the manufacturer in the Gen3 program is paramount,” explains Burgess.
“We had to go and ask their permission to go and use this body style in Gen3 and this is what we are trying to do; we are trying to attract more manufacturers.
“When you look at these cars, you can see their style. You can see the front fascia on these cars looks like a street car.”
Triple Eight Race Engineering technical director Jeromy Moore added: “They have put so much emphasis on this car from the GM side because it almost has the road car DNA of every race car they produce.
“NASCAR, they have to adjust to a stock body, but for us they are basically clean.
“They have to make the best possible car, like a road car but on steroids and I think we have achieved that.”
Supercars have been testing Gen3 prototypes of late, with the Chevrolet Camaro having its first hit Wednesday alongside the Ford Mustang.