Interesting times in V8 Supercar Land with Ford and Holden having to share the spoils and the glory from 2013 with not only Nissan but also a 4th manufacturer.
Tony Cochrane has, more or less, confirmed it. Not sure if the Australian motorsport media have explored it - Auto Action and Motorsport News are like rocking horse poo to find in NZ, but it looks set to happen.
Apparently, the 4th manufacturer has been working very hard behind the scenes to get designs and issues sorted and has opted to take the opposite approach to what Nissan and Kelly Racing did by making a splash early in the year, which is a great way to end the speculation and get on with the (major) task at hand.
Much like Nissan, it would seem that the 4th manufacturer will be looking to have a presence on the grid of more than 2 cars, and hopefully 4 cars. This poses some challenges as the likely "available" options are "relatively limited".
The three "likely" candidates are Stone Brothers Racing (3 cars), Brad Jones Racing (3 cars), and Dick Johnson Racing (3 cars it would seem for 2013 as Charlie will take his REC to FPR).
Could we see teams bringing extra cars into the fray to get numbers? Tekno Autosport and Tony D'Alberto Racing have already committed to Triple 8 cars. Is Ford's decision to delay their commitment to team going to work against them yet again (the Triple 8 "Pigs" all over again) with respect to Stone Brothers Racing and DJR (who receive token Ford support allegedly anyway) as 3 + 3 = 6 which is a solid grid presence. It is also a smart way for a new entrant to play the field and spread the risk and will likely be available for less than an FPR or Triple 8-style deal.
Speculation from within "the ranks" suggests that the 4th manufacturer could break cover this weekend as part of a major press release at Queensland Raceway. The reasons for this is the team that seem most likely to partner with is a Queensland-based team, which reduces the chance of a BJR involvement.
Who might the new manufacturer be? An interesting question with plenty of speculation around the traps. However, in all of these scenarios, there are usually clear leaders and the likely candidates seem to have narrowed down to three possibilities: Toyota, Audi, and Hyundai.
Audi have strong links to BJR and have flatly denied it recently, but that counts for not much.
Toyota are spending an epic amount on footie. No idea when that deal is up but that would potentially free up a lot of funds which would work well in V8 Supercars
Hyundai, who are a seemingly unlikely contender, are actually tipped strongly as the likely 4th manufacturer. Based on what they spend on TV advertising in NZ alone, if that is replicated in Australia, then the budget is well and truly there. Given Hyundai's aggressive desire to grow to a dominant position, they seem like the most logical fit.
A 4th, and seemingly rank outsider, is Mercedes, but they don't seem to be a likely contender due to the volume of cars sold in Australia, but never say never.
Further speculation suggests that the likely team to benefit from this additional manufacturer for 2013 and beyond has some REC issues for next season, so this points to DJR.
Only time will tell and it shall be interesting to watch it all play out when it finally does.