With the Australian Supercars season set to launch in Sydney in early February, preparations are well underway. This year, BP will replace Shell as the official supplier of Supercars E85 fuel.
Unlike the petrol one would get from a pump, the E85 blend comprises 85% ethanol derived from sugar cane and 15% premium unleaded petrol. Ethanol typically produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which is why pump petrol often has 5% or even 10% ethanol in its blend. It can be rather corrosive, however, so E85 is rarely compatible with road cars, although it does have a following among the drivers of some hyper-tuned, high-performance street-legal vehicles.
Australia produces a great quantity of sugar cane, so it made sense for Supercars to adopt it in 2009 based on its “green” credentials. During Shell’s tenure as fuel provider, a move back to 98 premium unleaded petrol was planned but ultimately ruled out because of how much it would cost teams to convert it back to pump petrol.
While BP produces its own fuel, as well as lubricant products through the Castrol brand, it does not make an E85 offering. Like Shell, it will need to source the E85 fuel through a third-party supplier. The move back to pump petrol may be back up for consideration in 2020.
This year’s Supercars season will warm up on February 18 at The Bend with a pre-season test day, before getting into full swing with the Adelaide 500 starting on February 20.