She’s famous for her role as the test driver on The Grand Tour, but Abbie Eaton could be Supercar’s next female star.

The British driver has been in Australia for several weeks attempting to find a drive in the Super2 Series in 2019. Having attended the season finale at Newcastle to watch the touring car series, this week she got behind the wheel testing a Holden Commodore for Walkinshaw United Autosports.

Eaton has raced GT and touring cars in Europe but came to prominence as the test driver for the second season of The Grand Tour, the motoring show starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Despite the success of that role she is targeting a drive in the Supercars series as her future priority.

Her test this week was with WAU alongside Porsche Carrera Cup champion Jaxon Evans at Winton, driving an older-generation VF Commodore. The team was impressed with the rookie duo after a solid day of running at the Victorian circuit.

“It was a glowing success in terms of the way both drivers adapted to the cars, and the number of laps they were able to do,” said Walkinshaw Andretti United co-team principal, Mathew Nilsson.

“For Abbie, it’s a really exciting time to be involved, as we watch the next female star emerge in the sport. She did a fantastic job yesterday, proving her unquestionable ability. She got her head around the car very quickly, including the heel-and-toe process, and made significant progress throughout the day.”

For her part Eaton was impressed with the cars and pleased with her performance.

“The opening test went as I hoped it would,” Eaton said. “These cars are mega, however I didn’t feel as though it was as ‘brutal’ as a GT car.

“I found it very forgiving and intuitive - you could read what it was going to do and adapt accordingly.

“To see where my times were against other drivers with experience on the track and Australian conditions was a pleasing outcome.

"The feedback from the team has been positive and I was competitive, which is all I can ask for at this time.”

Eaton has also arranged a test in Queensland with Matt Stone Racing and will also get some coaching and advice from former Supercars regular Paul Morris.

Walkinshaw Andretti United has made it clear it is interested in running Eaton in the Super2 series in 2019 but is currently looking for sponsorship.

If Eaton did join the Supercars series she would joining a growing list of female talents that includes current Nissan driver Simona de Silvestro.

S5000: GRM to provide technical support

Supercars team Garry Rogers Motorsport has been drafted in to help get the new S5000 open-wheeler category up and running in 2019.

S5000 organisers have struck a deal that will see GRM build and maintain the 14 S5000 cars expected to be built for the first season. Team owner Garry Rogers remembers Formula 5000 from the 1970s and believes this new V8-powered category has the potential to provide spectacular single-seater racing in Australia again.

“This is a serious open wheeler racing category,” Rogers said. “This new S5000 car will be safer, stronger, more durable and the reliability factor will be enormous compared to what they used to be.

“Back in the ‘70s, Formula 5000, with flames and sparks, provided very exciting racing. With S5000, I have no doubt that Australia has a real chance here. The rest of the world is toning down on motorsport, and we need to tone up.

“These cars will tone up and give Australian motorsport fans a really exciting spectacle.”

New Le Mans rules bring back road technology

Le Mans organisers are reviving the links between road and race technology, revealing the long-awaited details of its 2020 ‘Hypercar’ regulations.

The new regulations have been developed around cutting costs while also engaging both manufacturers and privateer entries. The so-called Hypercar rules (the official name will be chosen via public vote) are designed for cars such as the McLaren P1 GTR, Aston Martin Valkyrie and the Toyota GR Super Sports.

There will be two different paths for teams to choose - bespoke prototype or production-based supercar.

A minimum of 25 examples of the supercar must be built in the first season of racing with 100 by the end of the second season in order to be eligible to race. If teams opt for a pure prototype they will have to conform to tighter regulations in order to achieve parity between the two types of vehicles.

For example, road-based entries will have more freedom with engine development, for example variable valve timing will be permitted on those entries if that is what’s used on the production model.

Hybrid systems will be required for all cars in the top class, with manufacturers required to make their systems available for lease to privateer teams for €3 million per season, for a two car team. The hybrid systems will be limited to one on the front axle for purpose-built prototypes, however if the team uses a production-based car that uses two hybrid systems that will be allowed for the racing version.

Source: Drive

December 7, 2018