APCS: Tech Chat

Scott McGrath has been a part of CAMS since late 2013, starting as a Technical Manager before moving to the role of Sporting and Technical Manager, with responsibility for the CAMS regulations across the motor sport disciplines.

McGrath’s motor sport background commenced with Gravel Rallying in the early 90s through to Tarmac Rally with Targa Tasmania – not only working in the area of car preparation and team management but also event organisation. Over more recent years as a CAMS official, his duties in the technical arena have only grown. Today, as the Technical Commissioner for both the Australian Production Car series and the CAMS Australia Targa Championship he is perfectly poised to answer your technical questions.

As the Australian production car racing scene continues to grow under the watchful eye of CAMS, the APC series decided to catch-up with McGrath at Winton Motor Raceway to get his viewpoint on all things tech for the championship.

Q: Scott, there has been a lot of talk about the price cap of $150,000 for the APC series. Can you please explain how the price cap works?

A: The price cap is established to ensure that a range of vehicles readily available in the Australian market place are eligible to compete as a Production Car. With the changing face of automobile manufacturing in Australia, this price cap does ensure the range of eligible vehicles includes many that are now seen as sitting in the premiere vehicle class – such as the latest from BMW, Mercedes, Audi etc. again vehicles commonly seen on the Australian road networks. The price cap was last raised for the beginning of the 2014 racing season for the Australian Manufacturers Championship, increasing from $125,000 to $150,000, and now is applied across all CAMS Production Car Regulations (Group 3E) including the APC series.

The price cap is determined by what is defined by Redbook as the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price. For more on Redbook, its background, qualifications and price guide, you can visit www.redbook.com.au

Q: While the price cap has been in place for some time, we did see some changes over the holiday break when it came to eligibility – can you please explain what these changes were?

A: Prior to 2016, the Production Car Regulations (Group 3E) under CAMS had somewhat aged and their relevance to what was actually being raced had moved in slightly different directions depending on the Production event. It is suffice to say that in order to ensure a greater consistency for Production Car Racing under CAMS there was a need to review and ratify (or combine) the various regulations to bring it all back under CAMS Group 3E. This took some time and effort however the end result was to return to a single set of Production Car Technical Regulations under CAMS that all Production Car events – including the APC series – now apply. This also sees that cars built to these regulations can cross-enter a range of events such as State-based Production car races and also National Production Car races without the need to make changes to the car to comply for each.

For the APC series, the Technical Regulations are now applied as those published by CAMS as Group 3E. This incorporated the price cap that already existed in the APC series, and prior to that, the Australian Manufacturers Championship.

There is still some work to be done, but the future is looking bright for greater participation under CAMS Group 3E.

Q: Can you tell us what these changes actually mean in practice, for the races, and for the spectators?

A: Ultimately on the outside there is very little difference to what can be seen. What it does provide is greater value to someone building a car whereby they can participate at other levels of the sport, or a state competitor can move easily into a National event. It is known that needing to change your car from one event to another is a barrier to those wishing to compete, and this evolution of the regulations removes that barrier.

Q: Can we expect to see any further changes in the near future?

A: Ultimately the key direction is to ensure that changes are minimised, with the goal to ensure that the regulations do suit the future for the sport. Obviously, the Australian and global automotive market place is changing rapidly and technological advancements do pose some issues currently and likely will continue to do so into the future. It is a matter of staying relevant to this development and the effect it has on the conversion of a road car to an effective race car, whilst still respecting the philosophy of Production Car Racing. We must move with the times whilst on the other hand respecting those that have invested to date with the current crop of eligible and competitive cars, and that balance is something we are certainly highly committed to.