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The V8 Series you’ve never heard off

Germany maybe famous for its DTM, which recently turned to GT3 regulations as its saviour, but early in its rejuvenation another series focused on V8s and privateers launched to be a rival.

Arguably the V8Star Series is similar to what Australian race fans have in Trans Am by mating a control engine and chassis set-up to a silhouette body.

Launched in 2001, the V8Star Series focused on privateers thus the regulations ensured budgets were in check, but the racing was very close.

Using a 5.7-litre V8 supplied by noted Ford performance specialist Roush leased out by the promoter again highlighted the low cost target of the category as the units were designed to last a season. Producing 450bhp during the inaugural 2001 season and later tuned to 495bhp.

The package also featured Australian technology as Holinger supplied the same six-speed sequential gearbox developed for V8 Supercars to the category.

A mono tubular chrome molybdenum steel chassis and fibreglass-reinforced plastic silhouette body provided a light package weighing in at 1295kg. The suspension was of double wishbone set-up front and rear, while Goodyear supplied the tyres wrapping around 18 inch rims.

The silhouette body was taken through a wind tunnel to adjust the front splitter, rear spoiler and diffusers to make the body styles equal, while famed German tuner Zakspeed completed assembly, while its subdivision Nitec developed 40 percent of the components.

Models developed for the series were the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Ford Mondeo, Jaguar S-Type, Lexus GS, Opel Omega and Volkswagen Passat, but there were some challenges when producing these. None of the silhouettes were branded due in part to no manufacturer involvement, but the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz successfully protested forcing major change to the bodies. In fact, the Mercedes-Benz didn’t appear at all in fear of copyright infringements.

Volkswagen and Ford were two brands accepting of the formula.

There was also a rivalry with DTM although V8Star organisers played this down by using executive sedans rather than coupes. However, DTM officials and the manufacturers supporting it did thanks to the off-track hiring of personnel between the two categories.

Circuits visited included the Nurburgring Grand Prix Circuit, Oschersleben, Hockenheimring, Sachsenring, Salzburgring in Austria, Zolder in Belgium, Zandvoort in the Netherlands and amazingly two oval races at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.

Former Formula 1 aces Pedro Lamy, Johnny Cecotto, Karl Wendlinger and Christian Tanner formed the backbone of the field alongside a strong field of European touring car greats including Ellen Lohr, Roland Asch, Jan Lammers, Kris Nissen, Oliver Mayer, Franz Engstler in addition to Markus Oestreich.

Cecotto won two titles and Lamy the final crown in 2003.

By the end of its third season in 2003, the V8Star Series was struggling and in November of that year it’s cancellation was announced due to a lack of sponsorship.