All-new pickup racing series will start in 2018 with SIX automakers competing

The Land Down Under has a new racing series that plays off the exploding popularity of pickup trucks. It’s called the SuperUte ECB Series and it’s hosted by Australia’s well-known Supercars Series – you know, the series with V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive sedans thundering around an autocross course. Well, now Australia will have turbodiesel-powered, mid-size, crew cab pickups racing around tracks like the Gold Coast’s Norwell Motorplex starting in March of 2018.

Unlike NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, these Utes aren’t sheet metal bodies on steel tube chassis. No, they are production pickups from the assembly line. Each undergoes a full work-over with a safety cage, suspension modifications, performance wheels and tires, and a tune of their stock turbodiesel engines. Every truck is capped at 340 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, while the minimum weight is set at 3,968 pounds. Automakers currently preparing for the SuperUte Series include Ford, Mazda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and General Motors. GM’s fighter is the Holden Colorado, a truck very similar to North America’s Chevrolet Colorado, even down to the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel.

With official testing currently underway, let’s have a look at Holden’s newest and most unconventional racer.

Holden Colorado SuperUte Homologation Special

2016 Holden Colorado Z71 High Resolution Exterior
- image 634134

Note: Holden Colorado Z71 pictured here.

Holden is primed and ready for a new racing outlet.

The inaugural SuperUte series will be immensely interesting since every automaker is starting fresh with brand new homologation specials and a fresh set of regulations. According to Holden’s Emma Pinwill, Holden is primed and ready for a new racing outlet.“SuperUtes is an exciting new racing series and supporting Australian motorsport has been an important part of Holden’s heritage, so we are delighted to homologate Colorado for the series.”

The Holden Colorado SuperUte will receive several mandated parts in order to compete.

The Holden Colorado SuperUte will receive several mandated parts in order to compete. These include the full-cab roll cage and pedal box, an ECU with a specific tune, a transmission with specific gear ratios, a compete rear axle assembly, upgraded brakes, wheels, race-spec tires, and stiffer springs and shock absorbers. Holden hasn’t released much more information beyond that, likely to keep the competition guessing and probably because its engineers are still toying with dialing in the Colorado. The first race truck is currently being built at Ross Stone Racing with oversight from Holden.

2016 Holden Colorado Z71 Exterior
- image 634135

Note: Holden Colorado Z71 pictured here.

The SuperUte series will have an eight-round provisional calendar for the 2018 season. It starts with the Adelaide 500 and moves to the CrownBed Darwin Triple Crown, Townsville 400, Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint, Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint, SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600, and the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.

What this could mean for the U.S. pickup market

2004 Dodge Ram SRT10
- image 4092

Note: Dodge Ram 1500 SRT-10 pictured here.

While it’s unlikely Australia’s SuperUte series will explode in popularity among U.S. viewership, the series could rekindle the old flame of the sport truck segment. Think back to the Ford Lightning, GMC Syclone, and Dodge Ram 1500 SRT-10. Heck, even Toyota had a contender with the Tacoma TRD S-Runner in the early 2000s. Back in those days, the turbocharged V-6 in the GMC Syclone only mustered 280 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The second-generation Ford Lightning and its supercharged V-8 could made a more respectable 380 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, while the Ram SRT-10 made a rowdy 500 horsepower and 525 pound-feet of torque.

Imagine injecting today’s modern powertrains into current pickups. Imagine if Ford built a third-generation F-150 Lightning with the Raptor’s 450 horsepower and 510 pound-foot EcoBoost engine in a single-cab, aluminum-bodied F-150. Imagine Ram shoehorning a 707-horsepower Hellcat V-8 into a single-cab Ram 1500 with its multi-link rear suspension and air ride technology. What if Chevy put the supercharged LT4 V-8 into a single cab Silverado, much like its Silverado Z/28 concept from several years ago. My point is this: the SuperUtes racing series has the potential to reignite a highly competitive, high-performance arms race between the automakers. Logistically, it’s inevitable after the fad of high-performance off-roading wears thin.

Anyway, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

References

Holden Colorado

2008 - 2012 Holden Colorado Exterior
- image 471188
Holden Colorado

Read our full review on the Holden Colorado.

Holden Colorado Z71

2016 Holden Colorado Z71 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 634133

Read our full review on the Holden Colorado Z71.

Press release

Holden’s Colorado is swapping worksites and off-road for some of Australia’s most famous race circuits when it contests the exciting new SuperUtes category in 2018.

The SuperUtes ECB Series is a production-based category for dual or twin cab utes with turbocharged diesel engines and rear wheel drive.

SuperUtes replaces the current Holden v Ford V8 Ute Series and has been designed by Supercars to cater for the fast-growing ute segment that already makes up almost 20 per cent of all new vehicles sold in Australia.

Up to six grid positions are being made available to each of the six homologated models on the 32-car grid.

2018 Holden Colorado SuperUte Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 727129

In confirming its support by homologating its popular vehicle for competition, Holden has released the first official render of the Colorado SuperUte.

The work of GM Design Australia, the striking Colorado features roll cage, competition wheels and a tough racing stance. Finished in the popular Satin Steel Grey, it is complimented by Holden’s iconic Lion logo and the brand’s geometric graphic element.

“SuperUtes is an exciting new racing series and supporting Australian motorsport has been an important part of Holden’s heritage, so we are delighted to homologate Colorado for the series,” GM Holden General Manager – Brand, Media and Sponsorship, Emma Pinwill said.

“Colorado has been engineered to handle anything thrown at it by our customers, from inner city and suburban roads to rural highways, dirt roads, and off-road.

“The race track is no different and we are confident Colorado will carry on Holden’s winning tradition.”

Engine performance will be strictly controlled to 340bhp and 500lb/ft by Supercars to maintain parity amongst brands, while a minimum weight of 1800kg applies to all models.

To ensure parity and cost containment, Supercars has mandated range of control components including a CAMS-approved control roll-cage, pedal box, ECU, gearbox and ratios, rear axle assembly with control diff and ratio, brakes, tyres, wheels, springs and dampers.

Supercars has announced an eight-round provisional calendar which lists the SuperUtes appearing at the Adelaide 500, CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown, Townsville 400, Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint, Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600 and Coates Hire Newcastle 500.

“Holden has been such an integral part of Supercars rich history, so it goes without saying that we are delighted to welcome it to the SuperUtes ECB Series,” Supercars Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton said.

“The Holden Colorado is now officially homologated and will take on five different manufacturers in what is shaping up to be an outstanding series.

“With official testing having commenced last week and six models approved for racing, the SuperUtes Series will commence in 2018 with a very strong field and what will be great racing.”

The first Colorado SuperUte is currently under construction at Ross Stone Racing on behalf of Holden.

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