The V8 Supercars Dunlop Series is all about developing the next generation of talent and setting drivers on their way to the ‘main game’ – the V8 Supercars Championship.
In order to develop their talent, the young drivers in the feeder category need to have access to the equipment their heroes and mentors drive. With the introduction of the Car of the Future, or Next Generation chassis to the Series for 2016, they now get that opportunity.
At the opening round of the Series at the weekend’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide, 11 of the newer cars took to the track in the hands of the sport’s future stars including 15-year-old Alex Rullo and 16-year-old Jake Kostecki in ex-Triple Eight Race Engineering VF Commodores.
The newer cars were pretty evenly spread across the field, some with experienced old hands behind the wheel like Andrew Jones, whilst others were in the hands of the up-and-comers like Todd Hazelwood, James Golding, Garry Jacobson and Jack Le Brocq.
The older ‘Project Blueprint’ cars also got an upgrade, running the 18in wheels and tyres that were introduced on Car of the Future in 2013.
Round winner Garry Jacobson said he felt the transition to the new cars was good for the category, and its drivers.
“I think that in the Dunlop Series you’re always want to prove yourself to get an enduro drive,” he said.
“Now being the same generation car, it helps us to have more of an understanding before we go jump in the car with any main game team that we get a chance to drive with.”
Garry Rogers Motorsport’s future star James Golding has taken the wheel of a GRM VF Commodore, formerly driven by Championship superstar Scott McLaughlin to his maiden win in 2013.
He feels that the transition to the new generation cars helps him relate to his main game teammates.
“I’m pretty happy with how the new car is going,” he said.
“It’s obviously much better built, a lot more engineering has gone into it, and it’s good to be able to relate a bit more to the main game guys when they’re helping you out.”
It was the up-and-comers that made the most of their new equipment in qualifying in Adelaide, with Hazelwood taking the race one pole and Jacobson the other but it was more evenly split in the races.
Experienced racers Paul Dumbrell and Andrew Jones battled for the win in race one, with Dumbrell and his trusty VE taking the victory.
Saturday’s race two was a different story, with both Jones and Dumbrell having a tough run that saw the top five populated by youngsters in the latest generation cars.
With competition in the Dunlop Series looking as fierce as ever, the battle at the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint will be one to watch.