Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SA V8 Touring Cars: South African V8 Touring Car Series ready for testing

By Johan Laubscher

A new South African touring car championship was announced at the end of 2012. The new series would utilize new race cars which would be developed and built in Australia, closely resembling that of the new generation Australian V8 Supercars. The first of the new South African bound cars has been completed and is being readied for testing. In recent months the addition of Audi cars was also announced for the series.

A number of official press releases in South Africa revealed that PACE Innovations in Australia was busy developing the race cars, and that the first car was nearing completion. The first car would be a Ford bodied version, and would arrive in South Africa for testing on local circuits. Thus far Ford Focus and Audi A4 bodied race cars have been confirmed for the series, which is set to begin in 2014. A grid of up to sixteen cars is being prepared for 2014, with up to twenty for the future.   

The cars will be built on a standardized chassis with the option of body style, representing a manufacturer, being open for choice. This standardised chassis approach is similar to the approach used by many touring car series around the world, like the Australian V8 Supercars and the DTM in Germany, where a standardised chassis allows for lower development and overall costs. The teams will be allowed to use engines which have V8 base architecture from a manufacturer of their choice. Which engines specifically will be used in the cars has not yet been announced, but they will be limited to, and controlled at an output of 410 kW. 

In recent weeks PACE innovations has released a series of photos on Facebook, depicting the build of the first car. PACE has called the new cars for South Africa the “GTC” cars (Global Touring Cars). The first car is a Ford Focus and will arrive in South Africa within the next few weeks. The first Audi car will also be built soon and will also arrive in South Africa for testing.

No physical real-world photos of the Audi cars exist yet, other than the CAD model. However we have included the build photos of the first Ford (which has the same standardised chassis as what the Audis will have), and the first roll-out videos.  

Currently the premiere saloon car series in South Africa is the BridgestoneProduction Car Championship. This series has a number of teams running in the top Class A category, including Audi S4, BMW 335i and Subaru teams. The new South African V8 Touring Car series will likely have teams joining from several of the current South African motorsport championships, and most likely also from the older South African V8 Series, which used cars based on the American Trans Am rules.

How this new V8 series will affect the car/team count in the other national/regional categories remains to be seen, and if the new series will be economically viable is the big question. However, a new series pumping new interest into South African motorsport will hopefully bring good things for the future of the sport in the country, and it is great to see Audi cars within the new series as well. 

Here's to hoping that the new South African V8 Touring Car Series will be a great success, and a return to the glory days of South African saloon car racing. 

Update: The first GTC car had its shakedown test at Queensland Raceway on Wednesday 17 July. More solid information regarding the new cars and the South African V8 Touring Car Series was published on SpeedCafe.com during the morning of the test. Those articles can be seen HERE and HERE. The first car, the prototype, is fitted with a Ford Coyote V8. The car will undergo more testing in the weeks to come. 

Photo credit: 
PACE Innovations Pty Ltd on Facebook