The V8 Supercars Championship grid could drop below its traditional 28-car starting line-up next year as a number of Racing Entitlement Contract holders struggle to finalise deals to remain in the series.
The deadline to confirm their participation for 2014 is fast approaching on 1 December.
While this year’s championship has enjoyed a record number of different drivers and teams claiming race wins in the first year of the ‘Car of the Future’ regulations, many teams have been feeling the pinch in a climate of limited sponsorship and TV revenue income streams.
The upcoming deadline simply requires the REC holder to confirm their commitment for another season – it does not require the nomination of a team and/or driver – but to do so without either is a major risk.
An REC owner can surrender a license to the V8 Supercars Championship to on-sell to another buyer, but should the sale only take place after the new season has started, a fine of $150,000 per missed event will be deducted from the final sale price as penalty.
Two REC holders in serious trouble are Dean Fiore and Lucas Dumbrell, who have both confirmed to the Speed Café website they would be forced to surrender their RECs if they weren’t able to finalise deals by the end of the week,
Fiore – who raced for Lucas Dumbrell’s team – owns the #12 REC license leased to Dick Johnson Racing, while Dumbrell owns the #80 and #88 RECs, the latter of which has been driven by Fiore this year.
While Fiore and Dumbrell’s respective RECs are at the greatest risk of being absorbed or sold on, there are a number of other RECs that have unknown futures as the off-season fast approaches.
One such license is the James Rosenberg-owned #47 REC which is currently leased out to Erebus Motorsport (pictured right). Rosenberg is understood to be on the move to Walkinshaw Racing, which would field a fourth Holden Commodore for its protégé, Nick Percat.
Should that be the case, it could force Erebus Motorsport to fielding just two AMG Mercedes’ on next year’s grid for Lee Holdsworth and new signing Will Davison.
Another REC potentially up in the air is the #21 license, which is co-owned by team owner Brad Jones and his number-one driver Jason Bright, and which is currently driven by David Wall as part of BJR’s three-car line-up.
The future of that REC is likely to be determined by Wall’s backers, the Wilson Security group. A likely option is a switch to Dick Johnson Racing – plugging the potential vacancy of Fiore’s REC – which is also sponsored by Wilson Security.
The Paul Morris-owned #19 REC currently leased out to the Tekno Autosport team is also potentially on the market after Tekno confirmed it would not be taking up the option to buy it. Morris is believed to be considering resurrecting his Paul Morris Motorsport team, which he may then run in tandem as a joint venture with Tekno Autosports.
And if you weren’t confused enough already, the #3 Tony D’Alberto Racing and #18 Charlie Schwerkolt Racing RECs also have slightly uncertain future, albeit less acutely so.
Owner/driver D’Alberto is keen on committing for another year if he can source a major sponsor, while Schwerkolt (who leased his license to Ford Performance Racing this year) has sorted his sponsorship and simply needs to decide on both a driver and team to team up with.