The Ford Performance GT will make its track debut on Australian soil at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, showcasing Ford Performance innovation and engineering in one of the most advanced race cars it has ever built. Driven by none-other than Australian racing driver, and full-time Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Ryan Briscoe, the Le Mans-winning Ford GT will turn its first wheel in anger at the world-famous 6.213 kilometre circuit as a prelude to this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to put this amazing race car on such an iconic circuit,” said Ford Australian and New Zealand President and CEO, Kay Hart. “Innovation through design and engineering drives Ford Performance, and where better than Bathurst to introduce the Ford Performance GT to Australians.”

The Ford Performance GT race car is the culmination of years of Ford innovation in aerodynamics, lightweight carbonfibre construction and ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines, and serves as a test bed for new technologies and advanced lightweight materials that will benefit future Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles. With its carbonfibre teardrop-shaped body climbing the Mountain, it will be the most capable vehicle wearing a Ford badge to ever lap Mount Panorama.

“To have such an iconic vehicle in the Ford GT here – a car with strong success in some of the world’s greatest races – is something Australian fans will love, and it shows how highly regarded Bathurst is globally, and by Ford and Ford Performance,” said Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer.

The Ford GT’s simultaneous road and race-car development centred around three primary goals. At its core, the program provides a working training ground for Ford’s engineers to develop future engine technology and to expand their understanding of aerodynamics. On top of this, the challenge pushed the boundaries of advanced material usage, which has resulted in its teardrop body shape with carbonfibre buttresses, not possible if made of steel.

The Ford Performance IMSA GT Number 67 will be freighted to Australia for the first time, and will see Briscoe behind the wheel as part of the Ford Performance presence at this year’s Great Race. “To have Ryan, an Aussie who has driven with us many times at Bathurst, Sandown and on the Gold Coast, is the icing on the cake.”

Briscoe is well aware of this momentous occasion, and intends to take full advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity. “The Ford GT is an ultra-high-performance car, so I’m really excited and honoured to turn the Ford GT’s first laps at Bathurst” said Ryan Briscoe, who last raced in Australia’s premier motor race in 2013. “For me, Bathurst is one of the best, if not the best racing circuit in the world.”

The challenging layout will be another to add to the Ford GT’s list of iconic tracks, which so far this season has seen Briscoe and co-driver Richard Westbrook three-time winners following victory in Canada, Road America and the 2018 Rolex 24-hour at Daytona to build their championship campaign. "We know Ryan is excited to come back home to be part of such an historic occasion,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director Ford Performance Motorsports. “He's been an integral part of our success with the Ford GT in racing, and will certainly put on a good show for the fans."

Despite the familiarity with both the Ford GT and the circuit, putting the two together for the first time means that the Mountain will provide a fresh challenge for the Australian.

“Nothing quite compares to Bathurst,” said the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing pilot. “Bathurst as a circuit demands the highest respect at all times. It has the intensity of a circuit like Indy, where its very high speed and you just always need to be 100-per cent focused,” he said. “Of all the circuits we race on, Bathurst is probably closest to Watkins Glen (New York), though, as they both have a very smooth, high-grip surface with a lot of high-speed corners.”

Mount Panorama will provide an even greater challenge than ‘The Glen’, as it’s known, with the steepest corner at the Australian track being The Cutting, with its 1-in-6 grade climb. “Watkins Glen doesn’t have near the elevation change that Mount Panorama has,” said Briscoe. “And while the downhill section of Bathurst is comparable to Laguna Seca, Laguna is a very low-grip track, so it’s different in that way.

In 2016, the GT made history with its triumphant debut at the Le Mans 24 hour, by claiming victory 50 years on from the Ford’s crushing 1-2-3 formation finish for the Ford GT40 in the 1966 race. In doing so, it achieved the primary goal of the Ford GT’s program. Fittingly, Ford’s legacy at Mount Panorama goes back to the event’s origins in the 1960s, and since then, Fords have claimed victory at Bathurst 19 times.

In 2019, Ford Performance will support the Ford Mustang’s entry into the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, which kicks off in March at the Adelaide 500.

The Ford Performance GT will be in action during the Supercars Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, held over October 3-6, 2018.

Nissan has announced a continuing commitment to Australian motorsport for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Nissan has further committed to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Nissan has also signed a new two-year agreement with the Kelly family-owned Nissan Motorsport race team for 2017-18 seasons. The team will continue to field four Nissan Altima Supercars.

Michael Caruso, driver of the #23 NISMO Nissan Altima Supercar, has also re-signed with Nissan Motorsport team for the next two years. Nissan will return to the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017 in an expanded two-car effort with a pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 factory entries. Full team and driver details will be confirmed at a later date.

It was recently confirmed that Nissan will enter its Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the final two events of the 2016 Australian GT Championship at Hampton Downs and Highlands Park. Nissan will explore further opportunities in the Australian GT Championship from 2017 onwards.

“Motorsport is in the DNA of Nissan, both here in Australia and globally,” said Nissan Motor Co. (Australia) Managing Director and CEO Richard Emery. "When Nissan first opened for business in Australia in 1966, one of the first things we did was to go motor racing. Our motorsport program is a way for us to show people what the Nissan brand stands for – through the excitement of our race cars and the innovative and inclusive nature of our fan activations.”

In 2016, Nissan is defending nine championship victories in 14 different race series across the globe.

“We are very proud of our global approach to motorsport and today’s announcements for Australia really showcase our brand, both locally and internationally,” said Nissan Global Motorsports Director, Michael Carcamo. “The Supercars Championship is one of the most high-profile sporting events of any kind in Australia and Nissan has tremendous heritage and a huge fan base in this series. Our efforts in the Bathurst 12-Hour over the past two years have further intrinsically linked Mount Panorama and the GT-R. They already had incredible history together but this has now gone to a new level.”

Holden has confirmed its commitment to Supercars and motorsport in Australia by announcing a new three-year deal with Triple Eight Race Engineering to form the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from 2017.

Holden also announced that the next-generation Commodore will be on the Supercar grid from 2018. The new factory-backed Red Bull Holden Racing Team will develop, build, race and win with the next-generation Commodore Supercar from 2018.
This announcement also confirms that as part of Holden’s ongoing brand and business evolution, it will move to a single factory-backed race team from 2017 onwards.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, said he was thrilled to be confirming that Holden is committed to Australian motorsport and Supercars for the next three years, and is proud to be partnering with Red Bull and Triple Eight Race Engineering.

“Motorsport has played a significant role in Holden’s heritage and we’re proud to be carrying on that tradition with the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team, while reshaping our brand and presence in the market and in motorsport. We’re taking our company forward.

“I’d also like to thank and pay homage to Walkinshaw Racing with whom we have shared a proud history over many years,” said Bernhard.

“We’ll also continue to help Walkinshaw wherever we can. We support every Holden team in pit lane through various avenues such as marketing support, technical support, sponsorship acquisition, even down to helping design certain race liveries. We’ll continue that with Walkinshaw and I wish them all the best. Our relationship with Walkinshaw remains strong and we are working closely on future road vehicle initiatives as part of our ongoing partnership with HSV. 

“Fans around the country will see the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team on the grid from next year but I’m especially excited about our next-generation Commodore hitting the racetrack in 2018. Australia can rest assured that our next-gen Commodore will live up to the iconic nameplate, on and off the track.

“Triple Eight is the most successful team of the modern era, they are simply the best at what they do. We’re very proud to continue our partnership with them,” said Bernhard.

James Courtney and Jack Perkins have taken the victory at the Castrol Gold Coast 600 thanks to an amazing mid-race fuel strategy. Courtney seemed to come back stronger than ever after a two-month lay-off and Perkins received his 129th V8 Supercars Championship start.

Rick Kelly and David Russel managed to take the second position for Nissan while Garth Tander and Warren Luff secured third place for Holden.

Perkins held 10th position through the early stages for quite some time until the minimum co-driver laps expired and Courtney continued. A debris Safety Car appeared on lap 54 which caused drivers to head to the pitlane to refuel and change to soft tyres ahead of their schedule.

Courtney rejoined the circuit in 16th place with other drivers now running behind their team-mates.

Tander led the second half of the race for the most part until he stopped for fuel with 10 laps to go and rejoined in third place.

Result: V8 Supercars Race 27, Surfers Paradise

1

Holden Racing Team

J.Courtney/J.Perkins

Holden Commodore VF

102

02:14:20.4257

2

Nissan Motorsport

R.Kelly/D.Russell

Nissan Altima

102

02:14:22.4187

3

Holden Racing Team

G.Tander/W.Luff

Holden Commodore VF

102

02:14:26.1032

4

Red Bull Racing Australia

C.Lowndes/S.Richards

Holden Commodore VF

102

02:14:31.6848

5

Team Darrell Lea STIX

S.Van Gisbergen/J.Webb

Holden Commodore VF

102

02:14:34.9491

6

Wilson Security Racing GRM

S.McLaughlin/A.Premat

Volvo S60

102

02:14:35.5685

7

Red Bull Racing Australia

J.Whincup/P.Dumbrell

Holden Commodore VF

102

02:14:36.0590

8

Nissan Motorsport

J.Moffat/T.Douglas

Nissan Altima

102

02:14:36.2947

9

The Bottle-O Racing Team

D.Reynolds/D.Canto

Ford Falcon FG/X

102

02:14:39.1019

10

Nissan Motorsport

M.Caruso/D.Fiore

Nissan Altima

102

02:14:41.8647

Championship Standings

1

Mark Winterbottom

2599

2

Craig Lowndes

2341

3

David Reynolds

2281

4

Garth Tander

2141

5

Fabian Coulthard

2096

6

Shane van Gisbergen

2061

7

Chaz Mostert

2017

8

Jamie Whincup

1792

9

Rick Kelly

1637

10

James Courtney

1634

DJR Team Penske has confirmed it will field two V8 Supercars for 2016, with Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye to drive for the team. Coulthard – who currently competes with Brad Jones Racing and sits fifth in the Championship – will join Pye, who has taken over as lead driver since the Tasmania round this year. Coulthard confirmed recently he would be departing BJR and his new home has been confirmed. While there have been questions of whether the team would expand, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric explained that was a key part of the team’s plans.

“Expanding to two cars has always been a priority of ours, and with Fabian on board, gives us the opportunity to add another car capable of running at the front,” Cindric said. Coulthard has long been the favourite to clinch a seat with DJR Team Penske for 2016 and is thrilled to race for two motorsport greats. “I’m excited about 2016 and coming aboard at DJR Team Penske,” said Coulthard. “The chance to race for two motorsport legends like Dick Johnson and Roger Penske is just a special opportunity. I’m looking forward to next season and helping the team grow and race at the front of the field.”

Pye – who took control early this season and has proven his ability to progress the team up the grid – is pleased to continue with the team. While a devastating crash took him out of Sunday’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, he has been cleared of any broken bones and will look to recover for the Castrol Gold Coast 600 in less than a fortnight’s time.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue racing for Dick and Roger again in 2016,” Pye said. “This year has had some ups and downs, but we have been moving in the right direction. Expanding to two cars with Fabian is incredibly exciting. He’s a hard-nosed racer and together we want to build DJR Team Penske into a contender.”

The final piece of the puzzle has been Marcos Ambrose and while his comments do not reveal his plans for 2016, he backs the decision the team has made. “I fully support the team with the exciting announcements here today,” Ambrose said. “My number one priority since stepping out of the car full time was helping the team with that transition and in Fabian and Scotty, the team has a great future ahead for 2016 and beyond.”

The team will conduct a teleconference at 1pm AEST to confirm further details for the future.

Lexus has clarified its position on participating in Australian motorsport, announcing it will continue to provide support vehicles to V8 Supercars but not enter the championship as a fully-fledged competitor. Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the luxury marque would continue to have a presence in V8 Supercars while monitoring the sport's developments, including the 2017 Gen2 Supercar regulations that open up the series to new engine and body configurations.

"At this stage we will not enter V8 Supercars as a competitor, but we are delighted to continue providing high performance Lexus support vehicles, including the RC F V8 Safety Car," Hanley said. "V8 Supercars remains a strong interest for Lexus and we will keenly watch how the sport evolves with the new regulations in 2017."

A recent Ernst & Young report, commissioned by CAMS to determine the contribution of motor sport to the Australian economy, determined it was distinctly clear that the lack of tracks in Australia is inhibiting growth of the sport. The majority of respondents to the E&Y survey, conducted for the report, confirmed that more competitors would race if there were more tracks on which to do so. Comment was also made about the quality of the tracks. CAMS and V8 Supercars have made track development and maintenance a priority. As part of the CAMS 2014 - 2016 Strategic Plan, providing advice and support to help clubs, tracks and venue operators to build capacity was identified as a strategic priority. This includes lobbying for new tracks and improvements to current operating venues. With this in mind, CAMS and V8 Supercars have further strengthened and aligned their collaborative relationship to ensure the retention of existing Australian motor sport venues and the development of further tracks for the benefit of Australian motor sport.

CAMS Chief Executive Officer Eugene Arocca stated: “Track development and upgrades remain an absolute priority for CAMS and Australian motor sport. Without new tracks and continual improvements in the quality, safety and amenities of existing tracks, the growth in our sport will be restricted. In the last 2 years the number of licenced competitors and permitted events has grown significantly, however, that growth will be impacted in future years by a lack of quality venues.

“We know that Australian motor sport contributes $2.7 billion annually to the Australian economy… there is little doubt this already significant figure would be higher if more venues existed. It can only result in one thing, and that is greater participation which will further drive economic activity, particularly in the regional areas. It is a compelling case for continued and expanded government funding,” he said.

V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said that the category had been a leader in track development and redevelopment across two decades and was delighted that CAMS has prioritised the provision of quality venues for all levels of motor sport. “V8 Supercars is proud to have been a key lobbyist and direct conduit for permanent circuits in this country to become first class venues for all users,” Warburton said. “Together with the venue operators we have piloted major upgrades such as the new pit complex, paddock and track upgrades at Mount Panorama, the new pit building, track upgrades and resurfacing of Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, safety upgrades at Symmons Plains and the new facilities, track redesign and safety upgrades at Pukekohe Park in New Zealand; as well as safety upgrades at most major venues in the country. We has also assisted with circuits such as Hidden Valley in Darwin where the Northern Territory Government has invested substantially in continual facility upgrades.

“This assists all levels of motor sport and ensures these venues comply with current safety standards. With CAMS and V8 Supercars fully invested in this process our hope is that current facilities can attain the much needed funding and resources to improve their venues and that new facilities are provided for the whole motor sport community.”

Whilst CAMS will work closely with V8 Supercars to develop an Australia wide strategy for track development and maintenance over the coming months, it is not focussed only on the major tracks around the country – it will include grass roots and local venues, particularly in regional areas. CAMS will conduct a state by state assessment of the existing and proposed tracks in order to identify and prioritise lobbying efforts at federal, state and local level.

In its role as the National Sporting Organisation (recognised by the Australian Sports Commission) for four wheeled motor sport, CAMS will ensure that all governments are aware that the development or improvement of tracks within their domain should be reviewed against the CAMS Track Strategy for that state or region. “CAMS does not shy away from this role. It is the custodian of motor sport in Australia and has been so for more than 60 years. We aim to continually develop motor sport and with our supporters will continue to do so. The Australian motor sport family deserves and expects to participate in and enjoy a sport with a safe and bright future,” Arocca said.

Nissan might ask for hybrid power trains to be allowed in V8 Supercars in the future. Nissan Australia boss Richard Emery has suggested that questions could well be asked about bringing hybrid technology into V8 Supercars.

“It would not surprise me when I have the next discussion with headquarters that they will ask the question,” Emery said in an interview with motoring.com.au.

“Absolutely, they'll ask the question. I haven't actually asked James (Warburton, the CEO of V8 Supercars) or the guys, would you consider accepting some level of hybrid technology. I would say that it would not be on their radar, not because it wouldn't be good for the category, but it would be ‘how the hell do we work out what effect it has on parity?’

“That would be their challenge.”

The restructuring of the Erebus V8 Supercars team is about moving forward, according to lead driver Will Davison. The staffing changes were kicked off by the appointment of experienced tech heads Campbell Little and Barry Ryan in the middle of April, with the team now streamlining its staff and procedures as it looks to build on the solid form that Davison has shown over the past three rounds.

“The team is going through a restructure at the moment,” Davison said. “That’s a good and a bad thing, a bad thing because it can be a bit unsettling, but a good thing because it’s all being done so the team can move forwards. Actions are being made and put in place to make sure we keep getting better. It’s about taking the team to the next step. We’re going through that process now, and there’s a good vibe in the team.”

Davison's unlikely win in Western Australia last month is helping the team focus its energy in the right area and also helps the staff develop a competitive edge. “We’re enjoying having some pace, there is a level of positivity around the place,” he said.

“People are happy to be at work, and everyone is competitive. The team needs to have the same competitive mentality as the drivers.”

Alex Rullo made Australian motor racing history at Winton by becoming the youngest ever driver to win in a V8 Supercar. Rullo won the third of three Australian V8 Touring Car Series races at Winton. This makes him the youngest competitor to ever win a race in a V8 Supercar. Additionally, he also took round honours even though it's just his second outing in a V8.

The V8 Touring Car Series is a third tier V8 Supercars category, running on the Shannons Nationals bill and was a family affair, too, with Rullo’s father Peter also racing a V8 over the weekend.

“It’s an awesome feeling, we had good pace all weekend,” said Rullo. “It’s a good way to end my last day of being 14, that’s for sure. Having the extra support of Dad here this weekend competing in the same event was great too.”