Confirmed! Ford Mustang replaces Falcon in Supercars competition
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It’s confirmed! Ford will be fielding their two-door coupe Mustang in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship from 2019 onwards.
We’ve been waiting on tenterhooks now for years wondering what the blue oval would do in Supercars. Whether they would re-body their Falcons as Mondeos and continue to support the series, whether they would opt for a Mustang, or whether the end of their factory deal with Tickford at the end of 2015 would be the last we’d see of them.
Thankfully for the sake of the sport, they’re staying on; something announced in an online conference today.
Ford Australia and New Zealand President and CEO, Graeme Whickman said that teams will race the 2018 model Mustang.
"We’re proud to announce that Ford Australia, with our Ford Performance global team, is working with DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing to homologate Mustang for 2019,” said Whickman.
“There’s been a lot of speculation and calls for Mustang to be on the track, and as a Ford Performance model that’s raced around the world, it’s fitting that Australia’s most popular sports car should be on our race tracks.”
The move ties in with the manufacturer’s new-found push for performance cars in this part of the world. The new Ford Ranger Raptor will join the Ford Focus RS (due for a new model) and the new MY2018 Mustang soon enough, giving the manufacturer a triple-threat showroom line-up.
Two teams will campaign the Mustang; Tickford Racing and Shell V-Power Racing (they run cars for three Kiwis; Richie Stanaway, Fabian Coulthard, and Scott McLaughlin respectively).
This is big for Supercars because it defies a series of negative stories regarding the category’s future. From the cancellation (‘shelfing’, they say) of Holden’s plans to debut a six-cylinder power-plant in the ZB Commodore, to Nissan’s ongoing umming and ahhing about staying, to the lack of new manufacturers that everyone had hoped the new ‘Gen II’ regulations would open the doors to.
Now, those sitting there hoping or expecting the Mustang to be ‘a Mustang’ through and through will have to check their expectations. It will look a bit like the road car, but underneath it will be based on the same architecture as the rest of the cars on the grid.
But this is how the game has been for almost two decades; a far cry from when we last saw a Mustang competing in Australia’s premier touring-car category. That was in the mid-‘80s when Dick Johnson and others (like Kiwi Wayne Anderson) ran Group A ‘Fox Body’ Mustangs.
Since then the Mustang has rarely appeared in this part of the world in a racing capacity thanks to the hard-and-fast four-door format of the V8 Supercars era.
Now, one wonders (maybe even hopes) whether any other manufacturers wanting to market their two-door cars to a wider Aussie and Kiwi audience will follow Ford’s lead. One of the obvious ones may be Nissan, who could swap from campaigning an Altima in the series (a car they no longer sell here, though a new one’s meant to come soon) for a GT-R.
Either way, today’s announcement is a victory for the series. Now, let’s see if they can take on those quick ZB Commodores.