Supercars is opening up the main game to wildcard entries from the second-tier Super2 series, finally bolstering the grid beyond the current licence holders.
The following analysis piece featured in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #98:
Grid size is often used as a barometer of a motorsport category's health. Supercars is at a healthy 26-car field compared to other series', but the category has responded to the desire to increase the number of participants by opening up the main game to wildcard entries from the rebranded Super2 (formerly the Development Series).
"The Super2 brand is about positioning the series correctly so that it is easily identifiable as the pathway that our drivers progress through," says Supercars CEO James Warburton.
But the progression of young talent into the main game has been made difficult by the limited opportunities within the 26-car field and teams such as Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport requiring drivers with a budget.
Last season's top three in the Dunlop Series, Garry Jacobson, Jack Le Brocq and Todd Hazelwood, remain in the second-tier category in 2017 due to the few main-game opportunities.
In response, Super2 entrants and other drivers will now be permitted to enter the main game as wildcard entries. The Super2 Bathurst event has been turned into a non-championship round to encourage teams and drivers to enter the Bathurst 1000, as Supercars looks to increase the field for the endurance classic.
"We've set up the Super2 calendar with Bathurst as a non-points scoring round to encourage teams to run as wildcards," says Warburton.
"But we're also keen to give Super2 drivers the opportunity to race as wildcards at Super- Sprint events as part of their education process. There is particularly strong potential for teams to run at their local event, which is cost effective and can increase community involvement in those events."
Wildcard entries for upcoming sprint rounds:
Winton: James Golding (Garry Rogers Motorsport), Macauley Jones (Brad Jones Racing), Shae Davies (MW Motorsport).
Hidden Valley: Jack Le Brocq (MW Motorsport), Macauley Jones (Brad Jones Racing).
Queensland Raceway: Jack Le Brocq (MW Motorsport), James Golding (Garry Rogers Motorsport), Shae Davies (MW Motorsport), Todd Hazelwood (Matt Stone Racing).