World’s fastest Commodore? Kiwi squad reveal wild V8 beast
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This Saturday's three-hour ENEOS New Zealand Endurance Championship finale at Pukekohe Park sees the return of a familiar squad, and a familiar — though almost entirely revamped — championship-winning touring car.
Owen Evans’ Team4 outfit, now sporting primary backing from Wet & Forget, has returned to the Kiwi motorsport fold with their ex-NZ SuperTourers Holden Commodore and drivers Simon Evans and new recruit Callum Quin.
Their car looks vastly different to when it last raced, thanks to a series of visual and performance upgrades. It now wears Holden VF Commodore Supercars Championship panels, as well as pumped out guards sourced from 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse's VF Commodore drift car to accommodate a wider track and tyre set-up.
Under the bonnet is a whopping 7.0-litre LS7 V8, which is linked to a paddle-shift Hollinger gearbox. With ABS and traction control also thrown into the mix, the newly built Commodore ranks as one of the most ambitious cars to ever wear a Holden badge.
Though it's yet to be tested on track, expect the beast to lap the Pukekohe facility faster than the Supercars Championship regulars. It's hoped that the car will get a shakedown on Thursday, prior to first practice on Friday.
The Wet & Forget Racing machine lines up against six FIA GT3 or former–spec racers; including two Audi R8 LMS’, Clark Proctor and Andrew Porter’s Nissan Nismo R35 GT-R, and the Carter’s Tyres Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG driven by Dwayne Carter and GT ace Andrew Waite.
“The platform that we had with our NZ SuperTourer was really good, so we thought ‘why don’t we just leverage off this?’” Simon Evans told Driven.
“It would be quite cool if we can make it as fast as a GT3 car — then you don’t feel like you’ve just gone out and bought the fastest car off the shelf … You’ve actually put thought into it and developed something here to take on some of this bigger manufacturer cars.”
The three-hour grid features a total of 29 cars, with the best finishers from the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series and Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series completing the line-up. The variety on show includes SsangYong’s ‘Super Ute’, the first TCR-spec touring car imported to New Zealand, and a McLaren 570S GT4 headed by Hayden Johnston — not to mention a separate full grid of cars competing for supremacy in the one-hour showdown.
The grid also includes another highly modified touring car in the form of Nick Chester's ex-V8 Supercar Holden VY Commodore. The two cars approach this weekend as outside favourites to give the GT3-runners a firm scare.
For Evans, this race kicks off his 2018 season after he and his team elected to not return to the BNT V8s — having won the previous two championship crowns as well as the 2014–15 BNT NZ SuperTourer title.
“It’s the first time off that I’ve had basically since the start of my career, and my brother was back here for a bit so it was good to catch up with him,” he said.
“But I’m still a racer at heart, so I’m itching to get back out on track and start rubbing some doors with people.”
With Evans’ former teammate Gene Rollinson switching over to International Motorsport, former BNT V8s rival and Toyota 86 Championship campaigner Callum Quin joins the squad.
“The good thing with Callum is that he’s got good experience in the cars. But he’s also a good consistent driver too, and you know that he’s going to bring the car home in one piece.
“He’s a fast, consistent driver, and that’s exactly what we’re after.”
Racing begins on Saturday with the one-hour event at 10.10am. A 1hr 30min SsangYong Racing Series enduro follows at 11.30am, with the three-hour feature race kicking off at 1.35pm. It will also be livestreamed on Driven.co.nz.