Supercars publicly unveiled its next-generation cars at last December’s Bathurst 1000, the covers coming from the prototype Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
Testing is now underway ahead of Gen3’s competitive debut in the opening round of the 2023 season.
The Gen3 cars mark a significant shift from current hardware, with reduced downforce, an all-new control chassis better suited to two-door cars, and a move to production-based V8s.
While the cars have been simplified in a number of ways and will likely have a lower lap speed than their predecessors, Supercars legend Skaife thinks they’ll kick the “wow factor” up a notch.
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Speaking to Autosport magazine for a recent article on the Skyline GT-R, Skaife compared the Gen3 racers’ ability to grab attention to that of Nissan’s 90s hero car.
The impact of the GT-R is something Skaife knows well; despite being best known as a Holden star, Skaife rose to prominence in GT-Rs, winning the first of his five Australian Touring Car Championship titles in a Skyline in 1992 and back-to-back Bathurst 1000 crowns in 1991 and 1992 along with Jim Richards.
“The first thing [Gen3] achieved is what the GT-R has achieved, just like the BMW M3, and so has the Ford Sierra – it achieves the wow factor,” said Skaife.
“The first thing you have to have is when that car rolls out, people say, ‘Wow!’ When those Gen3 cars rolled out overwhelmingly in Bathurst [the reaction was] Wow.
Skaife believes the appeal of the new Gen3 cars is similar to that of the GT-R Nissan he raced to the Bathurst 1000 victory in 1992
Photo by: Nissan
“It’s not just the looks, it’s the road presence, the relevance on the market and the shape… [also] the sound and what comes out of it. That has many elements and layers. But overwhelmingly you have to hit the wow button.
“There are many main streets in Australia, but there are three that I call ‘the’ main streets: Collins Street in Melbourne, Pitt Street in Sydney and Ann Street in Brisbane.
“If you were driving a GT-R down those main streets in 1992, the whole street would be full at lunchtime. Because the sound it made, the look of the car, the wow factor of the car got everyone on their feet had .
“My analogy is always, it’s like a fighter pilot’s demonstration over the car race versus [the aerobatic display team] The Roulettes, with 10 of them with their wings together.
“The 10 little planes with their wings together look really good, it looks tricky, hard to do, but you don’t go, ‘wow’.
“But when the fighter pilot comes over the top, you go, ‘Oh my god, how did that happen?’ That’s what these things do.
“Fast-forward from the GT-R on Collins Street, Pitt Street, Ann Street—when we drive the Mustang and the Camaro down those streets, you look. It’s going to blow people away.
“It already is. Bathurst’s response was extraordinary. The Prime Minister, arguably the most powerful man in the country, said, ‘Oh my god Skaifey, how good are they?’
“When you get a response like that from the gamblers up to the higher echelons of government, it’s pretty powerful.”
Skaife will play a practical role in the new era of Supercars through his involvement with new category owner Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises.
He will sit on the Supercars Board and oversee racing matters, such as the new Supercars Commission.