Powerhouse: Mercedes-Benz will enter V8 Supercar racing and the pressure will be on to perform from the start.
IT’S impossible to underestimate the impact of Mercedes-Benz’s arrival in V8 Supercar racing.
It’s a huge boost for the tin-top tussle and a big tick for the Car of the Future rules which have made it possible.
Benz is the world’s oldest carmaker, consistently sets the standard for luxury and safety and is a dream machine for people around the world.
Now it’s about to hit Australia’s heartland with a race program that takes it head-to-head against homegrown racers from Ford and Holden. Nissan, too, in 2013.
It’s not what people might expect for the three-pointed star but Mercedes has a very long history in motorsport, including Formula One world titles in its own right and in partnership with McLaren, as well as victory with Le Mans sports cars.
Right now, it headlines the German touring car championship and has a Benz-branded factory team in F1 with Michael Schumacher as its lead driver.
Even though the Australian race program is not driven by the factory but by a customer team, Erebus Racing, the E-Class racers in next year’s championship will be top-quality cars developed by Benz’s favoured race team in Germany.
It won’t be easy to beat the pacesetting Holdens from Roland Dane’s Triple Eight crew, or the Falcons from Ford Performance Racing, but all the right ingredients are being put in place for a successful attack, just as you would expect from Benz.
Unlike Nissan, which can afford to develop its cars and crew slowly, the silver star will be expected to hit the front from the start. And that’s going to create big pressure on everyone involved.
Off the track, it’s unlikely that anyone shopping for a Commodore or Falcon is now going to add a Mercedes to the list but Benz sells an awful lot of trucks and commercial vehicles in Australia and there could be considerable rub-off.
There is also a strong possibility that Mercedes’ involvement in V8 Supercar racing will bring even more companies into the championship. Which would really be a result.