The unveiling of the new Gen3 Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro at Bathurst last weekend capped off a remarkable turnaround for Supercars and its relationship with its two manufacturers.
Ford famously quit the sport at the end of 2014 and stayed away until the arrival of the Mustang for the 2019. Holden, meanwhile, stayed involved but the entire brand was axed by parent company General Motors early in 2020, forcing it out of the sport in an official capacity.
The introduction of the Gen3 regulations for the 2023 season, which will see the Mustang and Camaro compete with more road-relevant cars sees both car makers take a renewed interest in the sport. The arrival of the Camaro will also usher in the introduction of the Chevrolet Racing brand to replace Holden Motorsport.
Both Ford Australia president, Andrew Birkic, and General Motors Australia managing director, Marc Ebolo, were on hand to personally unveil their respective new models and talk up their involvement in the category.
“We love the car,” Birkic said. “It’s important [to be road car relevant] to the fans, to our dealers and our employees… I think the team has delivered on the brief.”
The decision to introduce Chevrolet Racing to Australia is important for the company’s overarching plans, even if the Camaro won’t be sold here. That’s because it will allow General Motors to leverage all of its new entities locally which includes GM Specialty Vehicles (GMSV), the AC Delco parts and services business and its Holden Heritage program.
“I think it’s important that we’ve got alignment with the US, they’ve just launched their Camaro in NASCAR,” Ebolo explained. “We start to see this alignment between our brands and our markets. As a motorsport entry, a focused motorsport entry, we believe the look, the feel, the passion of this car is going to generate unbelievable excitement for all of our brands.”
One major difference between the two brands’ previous involvement and now, is a much more welcoming attitude to rival manufacturers. In the past both Holden and Ford protected their territory and the long-time ‘Red v Blue’ rivalry that has defined the sport for the past 30 years. But with the new car market changing and motorsport playing a different role, both Birkic and Ebolo said they would welcome more competition.
“We want the category to be competitive [but] we’ll let those guys [Supercars] make those decisions,” Birkic said. “We’ll welcome the rivalry, it will be healthy, and if it makes the sport better it makes us better as teams and OEMs then bring it on.”