Supercars appears to be ruling out a return to 26 cars next year, despite the existence of a spare Teams Racing Charter.
A TRC represents a full-time entry in the Repco Supercars Championship, of which there have been 25 since the start of last season.
The 26th is not on the market, Supercars CEO Shane Howard has revealed to Speedcafe.
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“We have no plans for that at the moment,” Howard declared.
When pressed on a potential sale for an extra entry in 2024, he reiterated: “At the moment, we have no plans to do anything with the 26th [TRC].”
While not an outright rejection, Howard's firm stance indicates that offering the dormant TRC is off the table for now.
It had been thought it would be auctioned, with the successful bidder bringing the full-time field back to what is nowadays deemed to be capacity.
The Blanchard Racing Team is currently the only single-car operation in the Supercars pit lane, but has a goal of expanding to a multi-car squad at some point.
Co-Principal Tim Blanchard recently confirmed to Speedcafe that construction of a second chassis to join BRT001, the first ever Gen3 race car to turn a wheel on a track, is ongoing, with the short-term usage being for potential wildcards and as a spare.
Peter Adderton has also been vocal about a desire to start his own team, with the mobile magnate last year buying a Triple Eight Race Engineering-built Camaro amid public lobbying for Supercars to sell him the 26th TRC.
The last time a TRC was taken off the shelf was when Tickford Racing successfully tendered for one in 2021, to facilitate its expansion back to a full-time four-car team last year.
In actual fact, it was committing to buying a Racing Entitlements Contract (REC) at the time, but the system of RECs was dropped in conjunction with the sale of the Supercars to RACE (Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises) in late-2021.
With the teams joining Archer Capital in selling their stake of the business to RACE, the system of RECs, which were stapled to shares in Supercars, became defunct, and hence TRCs.
A TRC functions the same as a REC in many ways, but a critical difference is guaranteed income.
Under the old system, each additional REC on issue diluted the income of the incumbents because a total dividend was spread more thinly.
Nowadays, each TRC receives a set figure per annum based on a 12-event calendar, understood to be $650,000 under the current five-year agreement.
Furthermore, TRC holders are entitled to extra income if the calendar spans more than 12 events, another deviation from the REC era.
Those conditions provide a clue as to why Supercars is unlikely to put the 26th TRC up for sale anytime soon.
Possibly, management is of the view that an additional car on the grid would not create enough value for the championship to justify the extra cost.
It would not be surprising if the business is in a mindset to consolidate after the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, plus the cost of introducing Gen3.
Furthermore, with no sale of the spare TRC, the incumbent teams, which are likely to have been stretched for the same reasons as noted just above, do not face additional competition in the markets for commercial backing and staff.
Worth noting is that Supercars tightened up regulations on wildcards this year in order to protect TRC owners, with a team now only allowed to enter a single car at either or both of the two enduros and one non-enduro event.
Supercars started the Car of the Future era in 2013 with 28 full-time entries, a figure which dropped to 25 in the following year before rebounding to 26 when Triple Eight bought a REC to facilitate the arrival of Shane van Gisbergen and expansion to three cars in 2016.
Triple Eight and Tickford each handed back a REC at the end of 2018, and the field remained at 24 from 2019 through 2021 despite some shuffling of RECs.
Nowadays, 26 cars is deemed a full grid (but for the possibility of wildcards), while 28 started last year's Bathurst 1000 thanks to one-off entries from Triple Eight, Erebus Motorsport, and Matt Chahda Motorsport.
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