Onyx Race Engineering is currently building Ford Focus cars in compliance with the TC3 technical specifications.
The company’s CEO, Mike Earle said: “I think that when I first heard about TC3, I was a little skeptical. It’s like my mother used to say, ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ But as we’ve worked along with it over the months, it’s clear that TC3 can deliver exactly what it set out to deliver. It’s sparked a lot of interest from some major motor manufacturers, which is great because they all produce performance–enhanced vehicles that can be used for the series. They need a lot of modification to turn them into racing cars, but it’s a good starting point.”
What are TC3 strong points in your opinion? “The initial brief was to produce a car that could sell for less than 100,000 Euros which is a huge saving on the current costs for a Touring Car in whichever championship you look at. The other concept was that the majority of parts on the cars should be able to be obtained from the local dealer so, it’s good for the manufacturers as their dealers get sales of body panels or whatever, plus they’re not being asked to contribute much. I particularly like the idea that a young kid can start racing in somewhere that perhaps doesn’t have much racing at the moment, but he can then progress to an international series in the same car that he learnt on. That gives a nice progression and a continuity that produces good young drivers. The main thing is that it makes it affordable and I think that’s something that motorsport in general needs to look at, not just Touring Cars, because costs are going through the roof.”
And what is your feeling about racing sometimes at Formula One events? “This is another major advantage. I think that’s a bit of a coup; it’s good for Formula One because it mainly consists of open-wheel racing series. It covers lots of bases economically and that’s something that needs to be applauded. I think it’ll grow rapidly, there’ll be more manufacturers and it’s almost something local ASNs could sponsor a couple of kids to bring that country up to international level. It’s got a lot of possibilities and the major factor behind those possibilities is low cost. If you walk into somewhere and ask for eye-watering numbers, you can see the blood drain from their faces – I know, because I’ve done it!”
What are your plans for TC3? “We’re pleased to be involved and pleased to be building cars for it. The car is a slightly different animal compared to cars we’ve built before, but we haven’t encountered anything we haven’t seen before. We’ve built a WTCC car and some of that has transferred over – it doesn’t have the expensive data acquisition stuff on the car but we never used to have that. Nobody is claiming that it’s going to be the latest, state of the art technical exercise – it’s something for young kids with not huge budgets to be able to get into a racing car and go and find out whether they can do it. There’s nothing worse than bumping into a 45 year old in a bar who tells you that he could have been world champion if only he’d had the chance– this means you can go and try racing and by the time you get to 45 you know whether you were any good.”
How many cars do you intend to build? “We like to think that we can build somewhere between twelve and twenty cars, which would be a nice business for us, but I don’t think you can take away the fact that everyone involved from our side is motor racing through and through and we’ll all be taking a huge interest in the TC3 series. What’s more, with the different manufacturers coming in, that can be nothing but good for the championship in the future.”
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