SuperTourers' rejection as support class has blood up
The running battle between the New Zealand V8 SuperTourers series, the transtasman V8 Supercars and the men in the middle - MotorSport NZ, who support the NZV8 championship - has erupted again.
The factions have been at odds for months but all agreed late last year that they could get on. Now motorsport's ruling body has decided not to let the SuperTourers race as a support class when the Supercars return to Pukekohe in April, and the face of Kiwi tintop racing - Greg Murphy - is scornful of the decision.
Promoters of the two series had discussed the idea. However, the motorsport body issued a statement saying the proposal had been canned. It continued:
"MotorSport New Zealand is contracted to provide officials and, in consultation with V8 Supercars, all the New Zealand support classes for the event.
"V8 SuperTourers approached MSNZ three weeks ago to explore the possibility of inclusion in the V8 Supercar event.
"It has been decided that at this stage in the process, MSNZ was not prepared to include it ahead of support categories that have previously supported the V8 Supercar event."
Pukekohe is only three months away. It seems, from the Timaru round of the Toyota Racing Series, there are less than 10 Supercars ready to roll in the MotorSport-approved NZV8 championship. Of that number, only three new-generation cars were evident. The SuperTourers have 20-plus cars.
The Supercars are competing at Manfeild this weekend and it'll be interesting to see how many will be on the grid - and more importantly, how the new-generation cars will be.
MSNZ's latest reluctance to consider a class that has a full season under its belt, in deference to putting together its own category, has raised Murphy's blood pressure.
"There's definitely a solution to the problem," he said.
"I just shake my head in despair at the way it's been handled. It's a full renege from MotorSport New Zealand on everything they said they would do with SuperTourers.
"They decided the future of the sport lies with TLX cars [the new-generation cars]. They went and bought the IP [intellectual property] of a lame-duck car with the money I and others in the sport pay them. The thing's dead.
"How could anyone ... choose that path when you already have a class with 21 cars in it operating successfully with commercial and television arrangements in place?"
SuperTourers says it put around $7 million into the wider motorsport community - jobs, engineering, manufacturing, car builds - and looks to be a viable option to replace the existing NZV8 championship.
"For me it's getting more and more difficult to turn on the computer and get involved in New Zealand motorsport," Murphy said.
"I can't believe they want to support their lame-duck three cars when there's already something that works and is ready to go."
MSNZ and SuperTourers were talking about co-hosting a meeting at Taupo, but that has also fallen over.
Responding to Murphy, MSNZ general manager Brian Budd said the Supertourers' rejection from Pukekohe was to protect the NZV8 class.
"We have a championship we are running this year and we have to protect that. We were running the risk that if the V8ST were at the V8 Supercars event, the NZV8s wouldn't be there.
"That race had already been calendared as a championship round. For the Taupo event we would have had to get rid of support classes we'd made commitments to last year, just to allow SuperTourers in."
Budd says motorsport officials have the sport's best interests at heart.
"We have to look at everything from grassroots motorsport all the way up to gold-star classes. There is nothing wrong with the rest of the sport. SuperTourers only run six permitted events a year whereas the sport runs 700 permitted events in a calendar year."