Mercedes C-Class DTM – Click above for high-res image gallery
While American racing fans remain enamored with stock car racing, road course-bound touring car series continue to draw big crowds overseas. In Europe there's the World Touring Car Championship. DTM is one of the most popular forms of motorsport in Germany. The Japanese have Super GT. But Down Under, V8 Supercars reign supreme.
The Australian touring car series has typically been the battleground for Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores, but the Aussie brands could get some company once again thanks to new regulations. Following a similar move by NASCAR, series organizers in Australia are preparing to institute a new Car of the Future program that could open the door for foreign automakers to take part. The formula calls for a spec chassis with independent rear suspension replacing the live rear axles on the current competitors, plus more advanced DOHC 24-valve engines to accompany (and eventually replace) the pushrod 16-valve units currently in place.
According to reports from the other side of the world, Mercedes-Benz could be the first to take advantage of the new regs, spurred into action by the increased sales of FPVs and HSVs among V8 Supercars fans Down Under. The German automaker's Australian unit has commissioned Brock Engineering – run by the legendary Peter Brock's son James – to build a sort of ring-taxi type of vehicle based on the C63 AMG in which Mick Doohan – a superbike champion whose record rivals that of Valentino Rossi – will chauffeur paying customers and VIPs on hot laps around the Philip Island circuit in Victoria. The stripped-out, track-prepped C63, according to sources, could form the basis for a Mercedes V8 Supercar, similar to the company's DTM racer.
Although Mercedes typically prevents its regional subsidiaries from competing in local motorsport disciplines, an exception could apparently be made for the popular Australian series, with factory support provided to privateer entires. Nissan and Hyundai are reportedly also considering entries in the championship. Tip of the hat to Scott for the tip!