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What’s involved in Gen3’s first flyaway round

ALTHOUGH the Gen3 platform is vastly different to Gen2, not much has changed for Supercars teams when it comes to packing up to race overseas.

This weekend’s ITM Taupō Super400 is just the second flyaway trip for the Supercars field since 2018 – the cars travelled by ship to and from Pukekohe in 2019 – and the very first for the new-generation Chevrolets and Fords.

The 24-car field plus a container of parts and equipment per car were loaded up at Avalon Airport outside Melbourne on Saturday for the flight to New Zealand and, after passing customs on arrival, should be back in teams’ custody at Taupō early this week.

The return leg of the journey will see teams packing the cars and containers for transit on Sunday afternoon, before getting them back at Avalon on the Tuesday after the event.

Despite the significant changes to the platforms since Supercars’ last trip across the Tasman in 2022, it hasn’t significantly altered how teams prepare their equipment for transit.

“The pallets had to be widened to suit the front and rear tracks that are wider on the Gen3 car, but we’ve got the same weight limits on the containers, and the cars all go on the same flight pallet that they get strapped down to,” Tickford Racing team manager Matt Roberts told the Motorsport News Podcast.

Even the different composition of the Gen3 car, with replaceable front and rear clips, hasn’t significantly impacted what teams are choosing to put into their containers.

“To be honest, what we’ve always found in years gone past is that if one team has something and another team doesn’t, there’s always the level of trading, that we always help each other out if we can,” he said.

One of the added complications of taking Supercars from Australia to New Zealand are the stringent biosecurity restrictions between the two countries.

“The cars have got to be spotless when they leave the workshop, as well as the containers,” Roberts said.

“Everything’s just got to be thoroughly cleaned. There can’t be any dirt of grass seeds, in particular.

The teams preparing to load up for the flight. Pic: Supercars

“We spray them down to make sure all the insects and spider and bits and pieces are not in the containers, because we can’t have any of that crossing the Tasman either, equally on the return trip.

“On a Sunday night (in NZ) we’ve got to thoroughly clean the cars down and blow radiators, oil coolers and everything out so we get all the dirt and grime off so we’re not bringing anything back (that’s) unwanted as well.

“It’s quite stringent so we’ve got to be careful because everything gets inspected, prior and post.

“We don’t need anything getting held up in customs either way; if that happens, it could be a bad day for a team if something was held behind.”

The preparation for Taupō had an added wrinkle for Tickford, which had to repair Cam Waters’ one-round-old Monster Energy Ford Mustang after his tangle with Matt Payne at Albert Park.

After a rapid-fire visit to Pace Innovations on the Gold Coast, the repaired chassis was rebuilt in time to join the fleet of cars on the flight to Auckland.

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