How Champ Car/IRL can allow Honda/Ford to play
A lot has been said about allowing Honda or another manufacturer back into Champ Car to compete against Ford for the fear of running costs up and ruining the series again. Ditto in the case of a merger between Champ Car and the IRL that could see Honda and Ford come together again.
Perhaps the system the V8 Supercar series just announced could work in Champ Car. It would require some keen auditors with sharp pencils but it certainly is doable.
Major V8 Supercar teams have been rocked by cuts that will slash their expenditure by up to 50 per cent next year and force a review of escalating driver salaries.
The sport yesterday announced an annual team budget limit of $6.75 million would apply from next year. And some teams, said to have been spending in excess of $12million a year, will be forced to cut staff.
Five major race teams - Holden Racing Team, Toll HSV Racing, Ford Performance Racing, Triple Eight Engineering and Stone Brothers Racing - will be directly affected by the cuts. Financial penalties of up to $1million as well as race penalties will be applied to teams for contravening the rules of the "Total Racing Expenditure Cap''.
With doubts about the ability of the sport to police the budgets, the penalties are expected to be the glue that holds the program together. Annual audits will be made and all team members will need to be registered, although allowances will be made for extraordinary items such as crash damage.
V8 Supercars Australia says the budgets are needed to ensure the long-term viability of the sport. Team owners yesterday cautiously supported the moves but asked for more time to study the proposals.
"The devil will be in the detail,'' said Roland Dane of Triple Eight Engineering. Dane agreed that driver salaries were a problem but blamed supply and demand, suggesting the sport needs to produce programs to train more drivers.
"Some drivers are worth their salaries and some are not,'' he said. Dane said the stringent penalties were designed to put out of business any teams that flaunted the rules.
V8 officials have been concerned for the past two years about rising costs in the sport, seen as a threat to the viability of all but the high-budget end of pit lane.
Yesterday's move confirms the sport's optimum team would consist of two cars and seems to put an end to suggestions of super-teams consisting of up to six or eight cars.