Turbo racers threaten Australia’s Supercars
RELEVANT cars, competitive drivers and free television coverage combine to threaten Supercars' hold on Australian motorsport this weekend.
Racing versions of popular cars such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Subaru WRX STI and Honda Civic Type R take to Sydney Motor Sport Park on Friday for the inaugural round of the TCR Australia championship.
The new series pitches up-and-coming racers against seasoned professionals in front-wheel drive cars powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre engines.
TCR racing took over the World Touring Car Championship in 2018, growing to become an important series in Europe, the US and beyond.
Volkswagen's high-performance send-off to the current-generation Golf will take the form of a limited-edition GTI TCR road car inspired by its racing cousin later this year.
Two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Jason Bright is on the grid alongside experienced Supercars racers James Moffat, Tony D'Alberto, Andre Heimgartner, Chris Pither and Alex Rullo.
Australian rally champion Molly Taylor suits up for Subaru as one of three women on the 17-car grid, accompanied by Chelsea Angelo and Alexandra Whitley.
Gun teams from Supercars and GT racing have committed to the series, with Garry Rogers Motorsport, Kelly Racing and Audi's factory-backed Melbourne Performance Centre among the frontrunners.
The series is run by former Volvo and Supercars executive Matt Braid.
"I've had a lot of experience with putting together big motoring and motorsport programs, but this is the most satisfying, especially seeing the Australian racing public embrace this new class with such enthusiasm," he said.
"We have a great array of cars. Eight different brands, some serious teams and real talented drivers.
"This is a new style of touring car racing for Australia, but it's one that no one is going to want to miss."
Supercars has driven a rocky road in recent years. Nissan dropped its manufacturer support for the category at the end of 2018, and Holden shelved plans for a high-tech turbo engine for race cars based on the new ZB Commodore.
Ford re-entered the category with the Mustang in 2019, positive news that brought controversy in the form of oddball looks which don't reflect the road cars handsome lines, along with dominant performances which forced organisers to shake up technical rules.
TCR racing will be broadcast live on SBS on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, or streamed online via Motorsport.tv.