Nancy Knapp Schilke
Ford Mustang teams' protest at Mid-Ohio will not be swept under the carpet
At Mid-Ohio last weekend, it was clear that the drivers and team owners of the Ford Mustang Boss 302S were unhappy with the parity rules under the WC Vision organization. Thus the seven drivers protested by not competing in Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge GTS race.
Word of the impending protest did not sweep through the paddock, but it drew everyone’s attention when immediately after the formation lap, all seven Mustangs entered pit lane, where they remained throughout the race. Aaron Povoledo, Richard Golinello, Alec Udell, Jason von Kluge, Dane Moxlow, Roger Miller, and Justin Bell were all shown on the results as retired with zero laps.
The parity in this series is not equal to all.
While the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has a long standing as the governing body of their amateur and pro racing departments to endure the parity rules are fair, they listen to their drivers on any rules that the SCCA amateur or pro drivers question.
However, while the SCCA is the sanctioning body for the World Challenge pro racing series, the governing body for the series is WC Vision.
The team owners (and their drivers) have been raising questions concerning the 2012 rule changes during the season, and they obviously felt that a protest was needed. At Mid-Ohio, six of the Mustang Boss 302S saw six teams encountered engine problems related to the heat in Ohio; temperatures were staggering, along with the dreaded high humidity. Paul Brown's Tiger Racing team with driver Bell lost two engines due to the weather.
The Mustang’s very small restrictor allowance reduces the overall horsepower, and by doing so the engine temperatures reach higher levels. The restrictor per the teams causes “engine oil and coolant temperatures to rise way above normal”. This was not the first race where the same engine failures have occurred this season.
Neither the team owners nor their drivers wanted to take this step but they felt that there request was being pushed to the side as unimportant.
In reaction to the protest, WC Vision President and CEO Scott Bove said, “The teams and drivers that race in our series are passionate competitors who, at times, will express their opinions and we respect their decision to do so.”
Bove explained that Geoff Carter, Director of Competition and the series technical department have had meetings with the Mustang teams to explain the rules; mainly regarding parity. However explaining the rules and listening to the teams that are having problems all season just did not cut it for the owners and their drivers, which is why they parked their cars after the formation lap before the green flag.
The Mustang Boss 302S has a total of two wins this season, and Bove was quick to point that out but at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the highest finisher in Saturday’s GTS class was Povoledo in ninth. Bell has the most points of the Mustang teams, but his meager total is 726 to series points leader Peter Cunningham’s 1250 for his Acura team.
Bove explained the WC Vision rules regarding parity: “The technical department collects data from every car model, measuring performance in a multitude of areas, including rate of acceleration, cornering performance and rate of deceleration. The Mustang Boss 302 is currently among the fastest GTS cars in acceleration and top speed, it has at times demonstrated lateral capabilities on par with the best in the class, yet it appears to require further development under braking.
“As we have done all year, the data garnered from each of the cars at Mid-Ohio will be evaluated in the 72 hours after the event. Any positive or negative adjustments to enhance parity in each of the classes will be made at least seven days prior to the 2012 season finale in Sonoma at the end of the month,” added Bove.
Bell disagrees with Bove and his staff at WC Vision, and he stated in his RaceShotsResource video: "The parity in this series is not equal to all. We're not asking to be faster than anyone else. All we want to do is be able to race on an even and fair playing field. Hopefully, our expectation is that someone very senior at Ford Motorsport will now engage with SCCA and the World Challenge Series to ensure that the Mustang remains a viable and affordable and fast car in this series."
The cause for the protest remains the same, so now it is up to Ford Racing, the Mustang teams, and WC Vision on the next steps that could be taken.