The Walkinshaw Group’s ambitious plan to race the Chevrolet Camaro in the Supercars championship potentially hinges on technical rule changes that could cause a storm of protest from rival teams.
A 2020 racing debut for the Camaro has been pencilled in, but preliminary investigations have shown the Camaro’s low-profile body doesn’t adapt easily to the control Supercars rollcage.
A Supercars dispensation to modify the cage specifically for the Camaro would trigger uproar among rivals who have worked with the standard design since its introduction in 2013.
The fear is a dispensation to allow the Camaro to race would lead to teams applying for further homologation variations for individual models.
“You are going to start a global arms race,” one team boss warned.
A Camaro Supercar would be developed and raced by Walkinshaw Andretti United, the team co-owned by the Walkinshaw Racing, Andretti Autosport and the UK operation United Autosports.
But Walkinshaw Group boss Tim Jackson warned the program was far from signed off.
“The most obvious [problem] area that you can see without having done a lot of work is the rear of the cabin,” he told motoring.com.au.
“That is going to impact where the rollcage is. The thing that stares you in the face is that particular issue.
“We can see where some of the impacts are in terms of the current rules and the obvious area is the rear of the cabin as that slopes away in the coupe. There is a big bar in the way.”
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer told motoring.com.au a request from WAU for a homologation variation in relation to Camaro would be considered by the category’s commission – which oversees racing issues – and the technical department.
Jackson stressed retaining the integrity of the production Camaro’s shape was a non-negotiable for a potential racing version.
“We don’t particularly want to create a bastard child of a vehicle,” he said. “It needs to look like a Camaro, it can’t look like some manipulated, modified variant.”
Currently Ford teams DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing are working with Ford Performance to adapt the Mustang bodyshape to the control Gen2 chromoly spaceframe chassis.
The Ford Mustang is due to enter Supercars in 2019, but the first two-door in the championship will have to stretch to fit the 2822mm standard wheelbase and have a 10-15mm taller glasshouse to accommodate the standard roll hoop’s position and height.
Overcoming the rollcage issue still wouldn’t guarantee a Camaro presence on the Supercars grid, as the number crunching would also involve the financial investment and return.
“I’d imagine if you were the only team running it [Camaro], it wouldn’t make financial viability. You would need other teams willing to run it,” Jackson said.
If it did make the grid the Camaro would line up against the Mustang and the Holden Commodore, meaning two General Motors vehicles on the grid.
Despite signals from Holden that it is comfortable with that scenario, Jackson admitted more conversations might be needed.
“As Holden and HSV we have spent a lot of time working together, so it might seem a bit weird actually going and competing against each other on the track,” he said.
“The spectator may not worry about it too much but the industry may find it interesting.”