All-in twilight enduros plan for saloon car racing shake-up
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A major shake-up of domestic saloon car racing is planned for next summer with a new series featuring hour-long twilight races serving as the premier race at each meeting.
V8 numbers have dwindled in recent seasons after the messy civil war between SuperTourers and NZV8s and although the parties have since come together, the category hasn't seen much growth.
Growing interest in GT endurance racing and strong Porsche entries have resulted in the new concept.
Speedworks - the promoters of the MotorSport New Zealand summer series - will introduce an endurance feature race for all major saloon cars to contest together for one prize.
The top 12 V8s, top dozen Porsches and 12 GT cars at any weekend will comprise a 36-strong grid for these endurance races.
A one-hour twilight race from 6.30-7.30pm is planned with two rounds in the North Island, two in the South Island and potentially a fifth round.
"We will run a feature race on the weekend from all of these categories to bring them into one category," Speedworks boss Geoff Short told the Herald.
"If you are in the top 12 in the points in the championship you qualify for the feature race. The same from the Porsches and GTs.
"The format for the race is that it can either be a one-driver race or a two-driver race. The race will have a compulsory stop and will be based on the formula the Australian GTs use with a minimum compulsory time stop.
"GT3 cars for instance might have a three minute stop, Porsches might have two minute stops and V8s one minute stops as an example."
Short is hoping the concept reinvigorates car owners who became disillusioned after the war.
"There are something like 28 V8s between SuperTourers and TLX cars around the country sitting in sheds or going off to endurance races," Short explained. "I am trying to get those competitors to come out and race.
"If you looked at motorsport from the outside you'd ask what is our hero saloon car category moving forward. V8s are going through some restructure. I don't believe we have a premier tin top category as it exists.
"We have about a dozen GT3 cars now but not enough and nothing coordinated just yet. To have the best 12 V8s, best 12 Porsches and 12 GT cars racing in the one race, I think that is pretty awesome."
Short has spoken only to a few parties about the concept but has received positive feedback from V8, Porsche and GT owners.
"We have got people coming out of the woodwork. Everyone has accepted it and thought this was cool," Short said.
"There were some people that I haven't seen in motorsport since the old V8 days when they were running TL cars and this has reignited their interest."