The Teams Trying to Secure RECs
To enter Supercars, you need to have a Racing Entitlement Contract. There are 28 of them, but it has been three years since all 28 were in use. Three RECs were handed back at the end of 2013. Triple 8 purchased one in mid-2015 to expand to three cars in 2016. Besides this, there hasn't been much demand for the other two. Now, Garry Rogers Motorsport has stated their desire to expand to four cars, and Super2 teams Matt Stone Racing and Matthew White Motorsport are considering a Supercars entry. Suddenly there aren't enough RECs to go around.
As well as the two RECs held by Supercars, one of Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s RECs are rumoured to be up for sale. Securing the LDM REC is a simple matter of buying it from LDM. The Supercars RECs are a little harder to get. Prospective buyers will have to tender for them, demonstrating that they have a financially sustainable business model.
A perceived lack of financial stability is what prevented Super Black Racing from being approved to buy one of the three spare RECs in 2014. Super Black ended up leasing DJR Team Penske’s second REC before buying Walkinshaw’s third in 2016. After the passing of owner Tony Lentino, it was sold to Tim Blanchard.Triple 8, on the other hand, was able to buy a third REC without issue.
Any team that wants to buy a REC from Supercars will have to go through the same tender process. If Garry Rogers is to be believed, that shouldn't be an issue for his team. His team already has the necessary resources to run four cars. It's something GRM considered while running Volvos. Rogers says that he already has the cars, trucks and facilities, which may mean that a four car Supercars team will come at the expense of GRM’s two car Super2 team. It’s almost certain to be a two-car expansion, rather than a single car, with Rogers having already ruled out a three car team. Running three cars requires almost all of the resources that four involves. A three car team requires a significant amount of duplication compared with a two car team. To go to a fourth car team, you only need the staff specific to that car. These usually consist of a driver, endurance co-driver, two engineers, and two mechanics. The economic benefit of running a fourth car, the increased sponsorship capacity, generally outweighs the costs.
Contradicting what his father said, team director Barry Rogers says that an expansion for 2018 is unlikely.Of the three teams looking for RECs for next year, GRM is the most likely to successfully get them from Supercars. If GRM decides to not go ahead with an expansion, Matt Stone Racing and MW Motorsport will have an easier time stepping up to Supercars.
New and small teams tend to struggle. Super Black lasted just two years and LDM have been barely hanging on for much of their existence. Only Tekno has managed to succeed. With a good budget, a Triple 8 car, and Shane van Gisbergen then Will Davison driving, they have won several races, including the 2016 Bathurst 1000. Both MW Motorsport and Matt Stone Racing are expected to run as customer operations. The former would run a Nissan Altima for their current Super2 driver, Jack LeBrocq. MW Motorsport already has three Altimas in Super2. With help from Nissan Motorsport, they fielded a single wildcard Supercars entry for Shae Davies and LeBrocq at Winton and Darwin respectively. Both drivers raced at Ipswich. Matthew White believes it would be too difficult to run as a single car team, preferring to run two. MW Motorsport could potentially operate as a Nissan junior team. Having factory support would aid MW Motorsport in tendering for a REC or two from Supercars.
MSR is only looking for one REC to enter a car for their Super2 driver Todd Hazelwood. Matt Stone, son of former Stone Brothers Racing co-owner Jimmy Stone, says he already has the sponsorship and resources to carry over from his Super2 team. The only thing he needs is the REC. Given that GRM and MW Motorsport are looking for two RECs, MSR could be well placed to buy LDM’s second REC. MSR are also the least convincing outfit who might tender for one of Supercars’ REC, and are unlikely to get one up against the established GRM and a Nissan-backed MW Motorsport. The single car ingle car team with a rookie driver parallels Super Black's structure. Super Black were also unsuccessful securing a REC from Supercars, despite having no competition.
What form an MSR Supercars entry would look like is unclear. From what Stone has said, we can assume they would use Hazelwood’s ex-Tekno Triple 8 Commodore with backing from existing sponsor Bigmate. Brisbane businessman and Touring Car Masters driver Jason Gomersall is leading the effort, and would most likely cover most of the costs. Gomersall believes MSR has the necessary infrastructure to run a Supercars team. MSR would be the third single car team, utilising the same customer car arrangement as Tekno and Charlie Schwerkolt Racing. Unlike Tekno and CSR, MSR will be relying on a rookie driver. That's not something you want in a single car team. Tekno has thrived where LDM hasn't because they have had experienced drivers and engineers that know how to make the car competitive. Getting a REC will only be the start of MSR’s problems. If they enter in 2018 as a standalone single car team, it's going to be a very difficult season.
Of the three teams possibly looking for a REC, GRM is best positioned to actually get both from Supercars, assuming they want them. It would be difficult for MW Motorsport to compete with an established team. MSR's main route into Supercars would probably be to buy a REC from a existing team, almost certainly LDM.