The head of the Australian arm of Lexus has confirmed he is in “high level” discussion with V8 Supercars regarding a possible future entry in Australia touring car championship.
“We’ve had very high-level discussions with V8 Supercars. V8 Supercars never approached me, any interest we have shown has come from Lexus,” Sean Hanley, the head of Lexus Australia, told the Car Advice website.
A key factor in Lexus’ decision-making will be how the future technical regulations of the V8 Supercars Championship evolve. The series’ bosses recently announced they would undertake a full-scale review of the regulations with a view to keeping the category road relevant and to appeal to a broader base of carmakers wishing to enter the series.
Among the mooted regulation changes are a switch to smaller capacity engines – possibly non-V8 or even turbo/hybrid configurations – as well as opening up the chassis types which would be allowed to compete to include two-door coupes.
A softening of the chassis regulations would open up the prospect of Lexus being able to enter its RCF model – its GT3 version is pictured above.
The switch in 2013 to the ‘Car of the Future’ regulations paved the way for new manufacturers – Nissan and AMG Mercedes in 2013; Volvo in 2014 – to join the championship, with the large fan support for the three new manufacturers successfully smashing Hanley’s previous concerns that the championship was not ready for an upmarket brand like Lexus.
“Two years ago I would not have considered it. In my years growing up V8s was Holden and Ford, and you’ve got to deeply respect that culture and I do. So how do you then take a luxury brand and put it into that space?” he asked rhetorically.
“The reality is that the changing landscape of the Australian motoring industry will necessitate I think expansion of opportunities for other brands. I think it won’t be restricted to any mainstream or non-mainstream brand, and therefore that opportunity is real. I think the audience is kind of ready and accepting that there is a whole big landscape of brands that we need to explore, and I think that Lexus brand will have great consideration with what we call ‘step up’ buyers – those going from mainstream to luxury brand.
“[The V8 Supercars] is certainly something we’re examining. Are we interested? The truth is yes we are.
“Frankly we think that RC F may suit that landscape in the future. I think the direction that Lexus is going in terms of great design and performance, a coupe V8 … Are we planning to enter should those eligibility changes go our way? Not necessarily,” he concluded.
Image via Christian Hartung and Lexus