The new powerplant, sourced from the forthcoming and fully imported Opel Insignia that will replace the Holden Commodore in Australian showrooms from next year, was transplanted into the Red Bull Holden Racing Team ‘Sandman’ test mule for its initial shakedown at Norwell Motorplex on the Gold Coast this week.
It’s a significant step for the Supercars championship which has, since 1993, raced exclusively naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8s. However, with the changing tide in the automotive industry, the series will switch to what it is calling Gen2 regulations which allows for any configuration of powerplant, including turbocharged, to be raced.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team reportedly completed 256km of running with star drivers Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards behind the wheel.
Team Principal Roland Dane said afterwards: “We are very happy with the initial running,” said Dane. “GM Racing has given us a great base to work from.
"The test has been about getting kilometres on the engine and understanding what it needs at this point to prepare it for racing in Supercars."
While Dane was reluctant to disclose specific details of the new race-spec V6 engine, he did tell News Limited that, “The power is not an issue with the turbo. But we have to make the delivery as good and as linear as a V8.
Above: Holden's artists' impression of the Opel Insignia-based Holden Commodore Supercar racer
"We don’t underestimate the amount of work we have to do. But we are quietly pleased with what we have done so far and we will continue to test behind close doors so we can get it right and be there or thereabouts when we run it as a wildcard next year."
Supercars had initially planned to adopt its Gen2 regulations next year, however series officials made the decision earlier this year to delay its introduction until 2019.
However, with testing continuing apace, all undertaken by Holden’s factory racing team, Red Bull Holden Racing Team, it’s understood the new engine will now make wildcard appearances in the series in 2018.
The test mule was built and developed by the team around three years ago. Underneath its panel-van exterior lies a full-spec Supercar, making it the ideal test mule for Holden’s V6 engine development program.