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AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX
Baku City Circuit. 23 April 2019
February 04, 2019
Published on tags: 2019 Superleague Quasar Valiant Talos

 

As bidding for engines for the 2019 Superleague comes to a close, the grid is split up among the four suppliers - the two long standing operations of Valiant and Talos going up against the more recently established Quasar and Reventon.
It is not just a matter of bragging rights for the manufacturers: for the team selecting their engine supplier, this is a momentous choice that could have major implications for their final championship position come December. What pushes a team to choose one supplier over the other? And how has the 2019 grid shaped up?

Manufacturers incur heavy costs - 30 million just to set up their operations, and five million extra for each customer they take onboard. They are free to put a non-negotiable price on their engines, receiving 30% of the value in commissions (the remainder going in production costs). Competition for customers, especially at a price that would allow teams to recoup their investment, is fierce - a race to the bottom benefits none of the manufacturers.

Reventon are the new kids on the block. Manufactured by Edonis Engineering, their approach has been a friendly one from the get go. "Our Aim is to make a decent engine and give good value for money... listen to your input... in the end we're building it together" was the pitch of Team Principal, Menno Klont. Coming in at the lowest price of the lot, 24.5 million, they managed to sign two customers in the shape of Measuric Racing and Storm Racing - not a bad return for their debut season: just twelve months ago, Edge Esports's new product, the Quasar engine, didn't find any customer.

The Belgian team's second year see a first customer on the books, as MadCape Racing Team signed up for the 2019 offering. Edge's pitch was very analytical in their reference to the statistics of their 2018 season. "6 race wins, 16 podiums and an average of 12.8 points per race entry. 60% more than its nearest competitor, Valiant." The strength of their debut season, coupled with their appointment of Norwegian star, Jarl Teien, as test driver, will possibly mean they'd be disappointed by the relatively low uptake. It could be a blessing for MadCape, who will exert much influence over upgrade plans and the development direction of the engine. It will be crucial to see how Quasar works with a customer, but the foundations built by the team are solid.

"Communication with customer teams is paramount to us. Hawkeye may be the manufacturer team but we assure you that the team will not get preferential treatment." Talos's pitch was one of warmth and welcoming to teams old and new across the grid - though the results of the last two years are not to be scoffed at. It came as a surprise, then, that only one team - Superleague debutants YTF1 - opted for the English brand. The loss of Edonis as a customer hurt the team, but Hawkeye can take comfort by the string of podium and front-end challenges as an indication that their product is one of the utmost quality.

While most manufacturers tried their best to attract customers, it seemed as Valiant was trying to ward them off. With 35 wins, 81 podiums, 32 poles and two constructors' championships to its name, demand was always going to be high, but the team raised eyebrows with their overtly aggressive sales pitch. "We do not want or need your business," it read. "Purchasing the Valiant engine does not give you any support from ACR or allow you to input how the engine is built. Please look elsewhere".

Whether it was a brilliant act of reverse psychology, or a misguided act of defiance for a team, ACR Zakspeed, that ruled the Superleague in the last two season, Valiant engines had plenty of customers - eight in total, with teams not being put off by the 26.1 million pricetag (admittedly, not a massive amount more than their competitors). It's hard to imagine ACR Zakspeed neglecting their engine after producing the class of the field in recent years and it's very likely teams will happily forego a say in development in exchange for a quality product.

Sheer numbers would suggest another Valiant year, with Edge flying the flag for Quasar. The return of a strong lineup for Edonis may propel Reventon to the front, however - although their development inexperience may hamper their bid. As for Talos - a year ago this time, nobody would have predicted a debutant team to claim a win in Australia. Enter Epic Racing and Geoffrey Fournier... Talos will be hoping a similar fairy tale can be the fate of YTF1 when the Superleague returns in Melbourne.




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