Supercars doubt after Holden bombshell
The motorsport world has been stunned after the General Motors announced the Holden brand would be retired by 2021.
Incredibly, the motoring giant announced it would no longer make cars suitable for Australian roads, leaving right hand drive markets which is expected to cost the company "north of $US1 billion ($A1.5b)".
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The move comes just three years after local manufacturing ended with the shuttering of the Holden plant at Elizabeth in Adelaide's northern suburbs and hot on the heels of the announcement that it would cease making the iconic Commodore late last year.
"After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritise the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally," GM International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said on Monday.
While the news has floored Australia, arguably nowhere has been more affected than the motorsport industry where it's been synomous with some of our winningest drivers, including Peter Brock, Mark Skaife and Jamie Whincup.
But arguably it's most synonymous with Australia's greatest race - the Bathurst 11, where 33 of the 56 champions have come from the manufacturer.
While it's still not clear as yet what this will mean for the local motorsport industry, Supercars teams and officials set to hold urgent discussions with Holden to work out the future of the brand in the sport.
Supercars had expected to have Holden or GM as an operational factory beyond the 2021 season with Holden and Triple Eight Racing's program in place until the end of 2021.
Holden released a statement saying it will work with stakeholders about what this will mean for its participation in the sport.
"We will begin discussions with the organisers of Supercars and Red Bull Holden Racing Team," the post said.
"We will update you on these discussions at the appropriate time.
"We are aware of our commitment (with Red Bull Holden Racing Team Racing) and we will work through with Red Bull Holden Racing Team the implications of this decision."
Holden provides factory backing to the Red Bull Holden Racing Team featuring former champions Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen.
A further seven Supercars teams are set to run Holden Commodores in the 2020 championship.
One of those, ex-factory team Walkinshaw Andretti United, expressed their sadness at Monday's decision.
"Our thoughts today are with the incredible men and women who make up the Holden workforce, the dealers, customers, and all Holden fans who have all been impacted by today's news," read a statement from WAU. "Our team has shared a long and successful relationship with Holden in Australia for three decades.
"It's very sad to see them leave. We are thankful for their support, and proud of what we have achieved together, including seven Bathurst 1000 victories, and six drivers championships.
"Our team and supporters have bled red for a long time, the lion and helmet will live on in our team's history forever."
Supercars also released a statement paying tribute to the role Holden has played in the sport.
"Today's news is understandably disappointing for fans who have followed Holden's success in Australian Touring Cars and Supercars since its debut in the 1960s," the statement read.
"Holden has been firmly part of the heritage of our sport and has helped shape Supercars to become the sport it is today.
"The Commodore will remain on track for the 2020 championship season and we're looking forward to seeing it alongside the Ford Mustang once again this weekend when the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship begins in Adelaide."
It saw an outpouring of sadness from the V8 community with even the Ford teams lamenting the end of an era.
1/1 - All of us here at Ford Australia are saddened to hear the news that Holden will cease operations. Holden is an iconic brand that holds a special place in the heart of many Australians, and has done so much to shape the Australian automotive industry and the country...— Ford Australia (@FordAustralia) February 17, 2020
2/2 - Its vehicles have been worthy competitors both on road and on the racetrack. To our friends at Holden, thank you for keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher. We will miss you.— Ford Australia (@FordAustralia) February 17, 2020
We are saddened by Holden’s closure announcement. Holden was always a fierce rival. A great Aussie brand coming to an end is sad for our country, no matter your allegiance. We feel for those affected, and look forward to continued strong competition on the track. #VASC #Holden pic.twitter.com/g16q44RUzS— Shell V-Power Racing (@DJRTeamPenske) February 17, 2020
So sad... From becoming an Aussie V8 supercars fan in the early 2000s, Holdens have always had a foreign mystique to me. Even if they just became GM bin parts.— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) February 17, 2020
They always seemed to be more fun, outlandish and insane when the Holden badge was thrown on. #Holden https://t.co/s6vEgWTcaL
What is the Plan B for @supercars in 2021 and beyond? No More Holden - pretty big gap, even if the Camaro comes as Chevy - is it really viable?— Trevor Long (@trevorlong) February 17, 2020
It potentially leaves a huge gap in the motorsport community and potentially the end of one of Australian sport's greatest rivalries.
As for what's next, time will tell.
- with AAP