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Supercars Townsville

Wind tunnel testing next step for Supercars

A future shift to wind tunnel testing is a logical move for Supercars according to Tickford Racing CEO Tim Edwards.

BMW wind tunnel

The series continues to deal with its latest parity war amid what is effectively now a 16-race winning streak for the Chevrolet Camaro.

The Ford Mustangs were fitted with an updated rear aero package for Townsville this weekend after CFD testing exposed an issue with rear downforce while braking.

That was highlighted as the cause for the Mustang's poor rear tyre life, however leading Ford drivers were left bemoaning tyre life again at the end of today's 250-kilometre opener.

Among them was Chaz Mostert, who called on Supercars to review its reliance on its Vehicle Controlled Aerodynamic Testing process for homologating cars.

The VCAT system is based on real-world running on an air strip with sensors fitted to the cars to collect data.

That is then cross-referenced with CFD analysis to assess parity between aero packages.

"Every other category around the world uses wind tunnels and does homologation processes to the best that they can," said Mostert after finishing third in Townsville today.

"I don't know any other category that still runs cars up and down a runway to work out what's going on, to be completely honest."

In a bid to contain costs Supercars has never resorted to using full scale wind tunnels, however the Gen3 cars have exposed how difficult true technical parity is to find.

With more control components than ever the cars are incredibly close on lap times, making even the smallest imbalances in aero and engine hugely influential on results.

As such, Edwards believes a move to wind tunnel analysis is a logical step for the category.

"I'm sure every team in pit lane would support wind tunnel testing," he said.

"The category is constantly evolving and they are needing to dig deeper in the paritising of the cars than they ever had to in the past.

"It was Supercars that went and did the study and found that in braking and yaw there was a deficit between the Mustang and the Camaro. They discovered it, not us. We felt it, and they substantiated what we 'd been saying. They'd never had to do that in the past.

"And I'm sure wind tunnels will be the next extension, as will transient dynos. We're in a funnel and we're getting into the smaller and smaller part of it, so the tools they need to paritise cars that are are 0.02s apart need to be better."

Edwards also reiterated the need for Ford teams and drivers to trust the CFD work and give the new aero package time before declaring it as a neutral or backwards step.

"We've had two 30-minute practice sessions to try and replicate what our opponents have had for five or six months," he said. "At the moment we need to trust the CFD has been done right and the tools put forward by Ford have fixed the issue that Supercars found in CFD.

"But we've now got to adapt our car to different aero. We've been dealing with issues under braking that potentially are no longer there because of the changes they've made.

"We've got to back track and take a different tangent, and we've had two 30-minute practice sessions to do it."

Edwards highlighted that progress made between practice 1 on Friday morning, and this evening's race, was remarkable given how mis-matched the pre-upgrade set-ups were to the new aero.

"The degradation number we predicted after practice yesterday is pretty much what we saw today," he explained.

"We thought it might be better than yesterday because the cars in the first practice session were horrendous. The drivers came in and their eyes were poking out of their heads, they couldn't believe what they were dealing with. It felt that different.

"It's a credit to all of the Ford teams that in two 30-minute practice sessions, and an overnight to think about it, we've completely changed our cars from how we intended to come here."

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