Motorsport: Time to get Kiwi V8 racing back on track

By Eric Thompson

Bargwanna says SuperTourers and NZV8s must get act together

NZV8s competitor Jason Bargwanna has had a lengthy involvement in the sport.
NZV8s competitor Jason Bargwanna has had a lengthy involvement in the sport.

Last week Greg Murphy gave Driven his thoughts about the split in V8 racing in New Zealand. The four-time Bathurst winner and two-time runner-up in the V8 Supercars championship spoke from the perspective of a V8 SuperTourer driver.

Another Bathurst winner and longtime V8 Supercars driver, Jason Bargwanna, is contesting the rival MotorSport New Zealand-backed New Zealand V8 Touring Car championship. While at pains to state he only wants to race, the Aussie's lengthy involvement in the sport means he can speak with authority.

V8 racing in New Zealand is in the intensive care unit. Fans and sponsors are leaving in droves.

Bargwanna reckons the various factions are tending to their personal campfires, making sure their little blaze is warming their little space - but no one has looked over their shoulder and noticed a bushfire is sweeping down on the entire campsite.

Says Bargwanna, "While I love the NZV8s I'm a motor racer at heart. There are some good things in SuperTourers as there are in NZV8s. I love the NZV8s, it's affordable for New Zealand, it's got different types of cars, and the racing is good.

"The fact there are slight differences in the cars generates passing opportunities and options to get the best out of the car. In SuperTourers, the fact that all the cars are the same has its advantages as well.

"The issue at heart is not about them versus us, or MotorSport New Zealand versus whoever - it's about all of us as a sport and everyone needs to smarten up.

"We're hurting the fans, we're hurting the corporate investors and the competitors don't know what to do.

"The No1 priority for all of us is to get the sport back on track - to get ourselves in a united position so we can go to the TV stations, fans and sponsors and offer a package that is good for everybody.

"If people want to build a Toyota, a Holden, a Ford or a Nissan they should be allowed to and not have to worry about the smallest widget.

"Of course there will have to be compromises in both camps [NZV8s and SuperTourers] but let's just get on with it and get it done. My theory is that we could get all the cars close to a common platform and then we can decide the best parts from both categories and then make them the control parts for all the cars. Decisions could be made on economic factors and what's good for the racing. As a sport we need all the cars in both classes racing against each other so as drivers we can race against the best and, most importantly, put on a great show for the fans.

"I'm not taking a driver's position here, I'm taking an overview of what we need to do for the sport. Nobody has captured the fans, the media or television at the moment and the crowds are woeful. The bottom line is that we haven't got something that works and we have to fix it. There're enough smart people around to make it work."

Next week: NZ motorsport's governing body speaks.

- NZ Herald

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