Ford re-entry adds 'certainty' to Penske Supercars programme

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Ford re-entry adds 'certainty' to Penske Supercars programme
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Apr 19, 2018, 3:30 AM

DJR Team Penske boss Ryan Story says Ford's revival of its factory backing in Supercars provides a level of certainty over his squad's future.

Ford Mustang GT
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Ford Mustang render by Nima Nourian
Fabian Coulthard, DJR Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Fabian Coulthard, DJR Team Penske Ford
Ford Mustang GT
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Ford Mustang GT

Having competed with little to no factory support from the Blue Oval since becoming DJR Team Penske in 2015, the team was linked to both bringing a new manufacturer to Supercars and a switch to existing manufacturer Holden over the last couple of seasons.

However the outfit, which has Ford roots stretching back to 1970s through part-owner Dick Johnson, is set to stay true to its history thanks to Ford's new Supercars deal, which includes bringing the iconic Mustang bodyshape to the series.

According to DJRTP's team principal Story, the Ford deal is a significant one in terms of the squad's future.

"This gives us certainty. We know what we're racing now and into the future," Story told Motorsport.com.

"It gives us an opportunity to address imbalances. It gives us an opportunity to start with a fresh sheet of paper and to take the number one selling sportscar in Australia and turn it into an absolutely hyper Supercar.

"I couldn't be happier with the mammoth task of the big project ahead of us. I can't get to get it going."

Story's reference to 'imbalances' comes following an incredibly dominant start to the Supercars season from the brand new Holden ZB Commodore, which controversially uses a significant number of composite panels to accomodate its hatchback bodyshape.

Following the season opener in Adelaide, the Ford teams hastily homologated and produced composite bonnets and roof skins for the FG-X Falcon, which were introduced at the Australian Grand Prix in a bid to lessen the weight deficit to the Commodore.

With the two-door Mustang likely to feature unprecedented use of composites for a Ford Supercar, Story said transparency with the series will be key through the development of the car.

"A big part of getting here [the Mustang announcement] was working with Supercars to understand how we can turn a Mustang into a Supercar," he added.

"That's not a straightforward process either. There's an awful lot of effort that goes into that, and it needs to be done with a great degree of transparency with the series.

"We're very satisfied with where that's got to, and we'll continue to push ahead."

Ford careful of 'factory' wording

Ford Australia carefully worded its Supercars revival, claiming it is a 'partnership' rather than 'factory backing'.

However the brand's President and CEO Graeme Whickman confirmed to Motorsport.com that the deal includes both financial and technical assistance to DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing, effectively giving the teams factory status. 

"It's both a human and financial partnership," he said. "It's not factory-backed, I think that term is becoming redundant to a degree.

"This is more of a modern interpretation of a partnership in motorsport. 

"At the end of the day motorsport should be around making a decision that's right for the brand and right for the company. So whether it's a big cheque or technical assistance or whatever it is, it starts with the first question which is around consumers, around brand, around credentials.

"We made that decision a while ago, in terms of we think we've got some pretty amazing Ford Performance vehicles. We've got that in our DNA. So that's the first strategy question.

"Then it gets to 'how do you want to partner?'. And we decided we wanted to partner technically and to a degree financially, but in a way that doesn't exhaust any of the parties.

"At the end of the day it's a shared outcome."

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About this article

Series Supercars
Drivers Fabian Coulthard , Scott McLaughlin
Teams Team Penske
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
Article type Breaking news