THE GLOBAL expansion of TCR has been one of the best success stories in motorsport since Stephane Ratel decided a regulations set called ‘GT3’ would be the best way forward for that style of racing and promptly secured the rights for it from the FIA.
Around the world, TCR series are popping up left, right and centre. In Australia the first few drivers have been announced for our looming series, while it’s been confirmed that New Zealand will get their own in the very near future.
It’s all very efficient, all very.. managed. There’s not much organic about the way the category has exploded in recent years, more of a controlled expansion rather than natural growth.
It’s certainly one way to do it, if at times – and we’re also looking at you, FIA and Formula 4 – it can feel like it’s been rammed down your throat.
On the other hand, there’s some categories in Australia that have taken the softly-softly approach and without anyone really noticing have become heavy-hitters in the local landscape.
Take the Kumho Tyre Super3 series, known for the first 10 seasons of it’s life as ‘V8 Touring Cars’.
If TCR is like the latest hipster beer that is being marketed and promoted everywhere, Super3 is the very decent bottle of Red that’s been sitting in the bottom of the cupboard for a few years – only to be discovered and found to be very drinkable indeed.
Created initially as a place for old Supercars to go and race, V8TC started very slowly; the first round only had four cars and the second just three.
But through preservation, consistency of product, solid marketing to the competitor base and very sound management indeed, the category grew.
Within five years it was generally acknowledged as the step below the Supercars’ own development series. The last three has seen an explosion of both Main Game and Super2 series teams jumping on board with their own talent (both behind the wheel and on the spanners) to the point where it was jokingly referred to as Super3, despite the fact that the only links the series’ had with Supercars was that it popped up on the occasional round here or there.
Then, at the end of last year, a deal was struck between category management and the powers that be to actually change the name and bring it into line with Super2 and Supercars and thus, Super3 was born.
It makes perfect sense and absolutely none of it has been overtly planned or stage managed.
There’s something to be said for the organic growth of a category that started in derision and is now absolutely a go-to for young talent and for serious teams to spot it.
This weekend the opening round of the 2019 series has attracted a 25-car field which means that, wildcard entries aside, it will have the biggest grid of all three Supercars series this year.
Main game teams Brad Jones Racing and Matt Stone Racing field cars in the series, BJR upping their game to a double-car entry this year with a pair of teenage karters that they’ve talent spotted.
MW Motorsport and Image Racing both field cars in Super2 and Super3 for exactly the same purpose, while the series also retains a diverse mix of privateer runners, both those racing for sheep stations and those for the fun of it.
Paul Morris has identified it as the best place for drivers to start their Supercars career climb, to the point where he’s entered a car for young-gun Broc Feeney.
This year there’s six teenagers running in the series and another two or three young guys and girls who some say have serious potential to be a main-game champion in the next decade.
Quite organically, the series has become one of the most compelling in Australia in 2019.
Remarkably, Super3 is not the only category in that situation.
Last weekend, the first round of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge was staged at Symmons Plains and featured a sizable 22-car grid.
And like Super3, there were 7 or 8 young guns at the front all driving for teams with a major presence in the ‘main-game’ Carrera Cup as well.
GT3 Cup is another to have grown organically – with Porsche’s nurturing – from a club level category with slim grids to a serious place for drivers to show their talent before jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire that is Carrera Cup and Porsche Supercup.
The fact that both Matt Campbell and Jaxon Evans started their careers there speaks volumes.
So while the new, bright and shiny categories take all the headlines as they wrestle out their own bit of the local motorsport landscape, it’s worth keeping an eye on those already around – going about their business, putting on a good show and slowly building out of the limelight.
You just never know where they may end up..