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HomeNewsNationalPath to Supercars clears amid Superlicence relaunch

Path to Supercars clears amid Superlicence relaunch

MOTORSPORT Australia has announced a relaunch of its Superlicence program just weeks after the concept had officially died.

It comes amid a move to open up the pathway for drivers to be declared eligible to race in the Repco Supercars Championship.

In recent years, Supercars had snuck in a requirement whereby aspiring drivers (other than those with an FIA Gold or Platinum licence) needed to chalk up at least six Super2 rounds to be permitted to compete – no matter whether or not they had accrued the necessary points for a Superlicence.

That element of the criteria was tinkered along the way, eventually expanded to offer partial credits to top performing drivers in Super3 and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, but Super2 remained a must in some form.

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The resulting disconnect between a Motorsport Australia Superlicence and being able to race in Supercars sparked frustration, and by last July, the Superlicence was to be abolished effective January 1, 2024 – with Supercars maintaining its own eligibility barriers.

Now, Motorsport Australia and Supercars have agreed to a new and less restrictive system for the betterment of the sport and its talent pathways.

“Motorsport Australia and Supercars management have been working together for some months on revising the licencing criteria to be eligible to drive in Supercars,” Motorsport Australia CEO Sunil Vohra told selected media.

“The rationale for this has been a few things, and it’s something that early on came across my desk, as a legacy issue essentially around the restrictive pathway to Supercars and what that meant for motorsport in Australia.

“Our sense as Motorsport Australia is we see ourselves as of the custodians of the health of the sport. It’s for us to look at the health of it for today and the long-term future.”

Now, a Supercars team can apply for a new-spec Superlicence on behalf of a prospective driver, who will qualify if they have attained 15 points (per the table below) in the five years prior to application. An FIA International Grade C Circuit Licence (or higher) is also required, and the minimum age remains set at 17.

Those 15 points can be accumulated in various ways – for example, across multiple different categories in a season (or multiple seasons), or even by repeatedly winning titles in a lower-weighted category.

“We’ve arrived at a point where we have agreement now for the reintroduction of the Motorsport Australia Superlicence, with weighting of points that allow other national categories to be a pathway to Supercars – albeit still with a weighting towards Super2 and Super3 as the ideal route, with the smoothest pathway in terms of points amalgamation,” said Vohra.

“But it is certainly possible now to have a pathway through other categories.”

Sunil Vohra. Pic: Supplied

Supercars CEO Shane Howard voiced his support for the revised Superlicence, which will be a free endorsement for Australian drivers.

“We support Motorsport Australia’s decision to prioritise the growth and development of young talents within the motorsport community,” he said in a statement.

“It is essential for the future of our sport that we provide a clear and accessible pathway for emerging drivers to make their mark on the Repco Supercars Championship.

“It’s pleasing to see that the Dunlop Super2 and Dunlop Super3 Series will continue to be key components of the pathway.

“These series have proven to be instrumental in shaping the careers of many drivers who now compete at the highest level in Australasia – 22 out of the current 24 Championship drivers honed their skills and talents through these series.

“This reaffirms our belief in the importance of a structured pathway that prepares drivers for the Repco Supercars Championship.”

Shane Howard (right). Pic: Ross Gibb

Exemptions will remain possible and will be ruled on by a Superlicence Review Committee.

That will consist of Motorsport Australia’s director of motorsport (currently Michael Smith), Supercars’ driving standards advisor (Craig Baird), Supercars’ general manager of motorsport (Tim Edwards) and Supercars’ motorsport operations manager (James Delzoppo).

That same committee will also make recommendations to Motorsport Australia about any potential reviews into a category’s points weighting.

“We have got the structures to monitor and go ‘does that make sense?’” said Vohra.

“I think we need to see how many people look at this as a pathway through; ‘does it become something that we look at adjusting those points either over or under?’”

Australian Racing Group boss Barry Rogers and S5000 founder Chris Lambden have been long-time critics of the restrictive pathway into Supercars, and that’s been publicly declared as a factor in the open-wheel series’ downfall for 2024.

Barry Rogers (right) with James Moffat. Pic: Supplied/Daniel Kalisz

Vohra hopes to see S5000 benefit from the revised system, but clarified that the changes are targeted at the whole of motorsport and not one particular individual or category.

“Motorsport Australia has an overarching view of wanting as many categories to successfully run in Australian motorsport to provide pathways to drivers and provide opportunities for people to participate in motorsport and spectate in motorsport,” he said.

“I would suggest, if this is helpful to S5000 around their ambitions to run a successful category, that’s good and we’re pleased.

“I think the thing that we would say though is the success of S5000 or otherwise was not particularly a part of why we were addressing this.”

Superlicence points structure* (as at 25/01/2024)

Category1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th
Super215151515151510753
Super3121212121086421
Porsche Carrera Cup12121210864211
TCR Australia10864321000
Porsche Sprint Challenge10864321000
GT Championship8643210000
National Trans Am (ARG)7531000000
Formula 4 Championship7531000000
Toyota Racing Series (NZ)7531000000
S5000 Championship6432100000
GT4 Series6432100000
Toyota 86 Racing Series6432100000
National Formula Ford6432100000
SuperUte Series6432100000
NZ Toyota 86 Series5310000000
NZ Formula Ford5310000000
State Formula Ford5310000000
Production Car Class5310000000
Touring Car Masters5310000000
Aussie Racing Cars5310000000
Radical Cup5310000000
Prototype Series5310000000
Sports Sedans Series5310000000
Karting Championship (KZ2, KA1)3210000000

*Superlicence points to be awarded based on a driver’s end-of-season ranking in the relevant category

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