Garry Rogers Motorsport will race Holden Commodores in the 2017 Australian Supercars Championship after failing in its negotiations with Volvo Cars to be allowed to continue racing its S60 package.
The team joined forces with the Swedish carmaker in 2014 as it plotted its comeback to the Australian touring car landscape under the new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations. The partnership proved to be instantly competitive with youngster Scott McLaughlin at the wheel, with the New Zealander peaking with third overall in the 2016 Drivers’ Championship standings.
Despite being under the impression that the Volvo-GRM deal would run beyond its initial three-year arrangement, team owner Garry Rogers was left stunned when Volvo Cars suddenly opted to withdraw its factory support at the end of 2016.
The impasse specifically came back to intellectual property: GRM and Supercars owned the S60 chassis configuration, while Volvo Cars owned the potent V8 powerplant under the bonnet.
“Having tried extremely hard to secure the Volvo V8 engines that had been developed and built in Sweden, which had absolutely no use except in Supercar racing, we ultimately failed. The choice that I was left with was ‘Do we run the Volvo chassis with a Chev engine?'” said team owner Garry Rogers.
“I like to think that as much as I am getting on in years I am also a ‘modern thinker’, but also a traditionalist. The traditionalist in me knew it was not the right thing to run a Chev engine in a Volvo chassis in a Touring Car category.”
GRM took Volvo to court in a bid to argue Volvo had breached its agreement with the team, and was subsequently ordered into a protracted mediation that failed to achieve a clear outcome.
With time fast running out as the 2017 season approaches, Rogers has instead elected to build two new Holden VF Commodore chassis fitted with engines prepared by Walkinshaw Racing.
“We chose to build Commodores as we had raced them in the inaugural [Car of the Future] season in 2013 and were familiar with them,” Rogers explained.
The team recently confirmed that its former driver Garth Tander would return to the squad almost twenty years after making his debut with the team as the replacement for rising star Scott McLaughlin. Tander is expected to be partnered by the team’s incumbent driver James Moffat.
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