Holden's Future In Supercars Beyond 2020 In Doubt
Holden has refused to commit to remaining part of the Supercars championship beyond 2020, after parent company General Motors announced it was retiring the automotive brand.
The 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship kicks off this weekend at the Adelaide 500, and GM's decision to scrap the brand in Australia and New Zealand by next year dropped a bomb on Supercars officials and teams just days out from the opener.
While Holden said it would fulfill its commitment to the championship this year, it was less certain about having a presence in Australian motorsport into the future.
That is despite its partnership with Triple Eight Race Engineering through the Red Bull Holden Racing Team being set to run until the end of the 2021 championship.
Triple Eight, the team Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen drive for, said it was "incredibly saddened" for all Holden employees, dealers and fans.
"We’ll update RBHRT and Supercars fans with our future plans in due course, but right now we’re supporting our friends and colleagues at Holden," it said in a statement.
Seven other Supercars teams are also set to race Holden Commodores in 2020.
In a statement, Supercars said the Commodore will "remain on track for the 2020 championship season".
“Today’s news is understandably disappointing for fans who have followed Holden’s success in Australian Touring Cars and Supercars since its debut in the 1960s,” it said.
"Holden has been firmly part of the heritage of our sport and has helped shape Supercars to become the sport it is today."
Urgent discussions between Holden, Supercars and Triple Eight are expected to be held in the next few days.
"Our intention is still to go racing in 2020 whilst we've still got Holden vehicles out there in dealer showrooms," Holden's interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina said.
"To the extent, about GM and its involvement in racing beyond that, that will be part of the same conversation."
Erebus Motorsport, which races two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers David Reynolds and Anton de Pasquale, told 10 daily the company is always "planning years ahead into the future".
"We will not be caught empty handed with any areas of our business and will continue racing with what we have and building relationships with the best possible partners," Barry Ryan, CEO of Erebus Motorsport said.
With much of the conversation in Supercars based around the Ford v Holden rivalry, Ryan said the championship needs to be "bigger than the manufacturer and the cars".
"The car market is wide and varied and with our category needing to grow our younger fan base and retain our current fan base nothing can stand still," he said.
"It’s never been a better time to cement our future than it is now!"