The announcement this week from NZ Touring Cars Ltd that the BNT V8s Championship will adopt the popular TA2 class could not have happened at a worse time. With the lock-down throughout NZ, it was a single press release at 6:30pm on Thursday that heralded the future of the category (see NZV8TA2 Racing Announced for New Zealand).
On top of the COVID-19 virus there is the obvious economic fallout which will undoubtedly affect the uptake of chassis.
Talkmotorsport caught up with Paul Manuell from Eastern Automotive & Performance, the NZ importer and supporter of the series, on the afternoon leading up to the launch.
“We have had huge interest, but the timing is terrible. We were hoping to have 15 running on their own grid but now is not the time,” commented Manuell. “We will launch it and see how it goes from there.”
The TA2 comes out of the USA which has a long history in Trans-Am racing. Designed and built by Howe Racing Industries they are a purpose-built racing machine with a stock LS3 GM engine restricted to 525 horsepower.
Manuell has raced TA2 successfully in Asia having being invited to compete in Thailand last season, winning the Asian Series.
While the Asian series cars are slightly different, New Zealand will race exactly the same as currently competing in Australia.
“They were phenomenal to drive. I came back to NZ and talked with NZV8s about the concept and my experience and the dots started to come together.”
This coincided with Australasian TA2 agent Peter Robinson of PBR Distributors in Australia, having made contact with BNT V8s 18 months ago, when talks began.
But what of the future?
Like our lock-down existence at the moment, the immediate and long-term future are up in the air. Already there are critics and supporters and while initial interest is high, the proof will be in the number of cars that take to the grid. Sadly, this is going to be very difficult for the BNT V8s.
Ever the optimist, Manuell suggests that now is not the time for speculating on its future, but to focus on the here and now and what is really important.
“We were hoping to have these as part of the BNT V8s later this year but the cure ball will change this. At the end of the day, drivers still love motorsport and just want to race.
“It’s reliable technology, with the use of late model bodies. They are tough looking and make a tremendous sound and are simple to go racing with.”