FORD Australia’s announcement that the Mustang will be its weapon of choice in Supercars for 2019 and beyond is a massive coup for the championship and its blue oval-aligned teams.
But it’s opened the door to a lot of questions — in particular, what will power the new machine.
Here are the burning questions out of Tuesday’s announcement.
LIVE stream the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 Exclusively Live & Ad-break free during racing on FOX SPORTS. Get your free 2-week Foxtel Now trial & start watching in minutes. SIGN UP NOW >
THEY’RE BACK: Ford returns to Supercars, will race Mustang in 2019
WHEN WILL THE NEW MUSTANG RACECAR HIT THE RACE TRACK?
The tentative date is the start of 2019, with Ford Australia boss Graeme Whickman affirming the plan is to have the Mustang on the grid for the start of the new season.
In the past, Ford has revealed its new-generation Supercars ahead of time — think back to the new BA Falcon doing demo laps in Dick Johnson’s hands and with then-Ford Australia chief Geoff Polites on board at Bathurst in 2002.
DJR Team Penske team principal Ryan Story said it is too soon to comment on whether the Mustang would be ready for a similar unveiling this October.
“If the car’s ready, perhaps, but we’ve got a heck of a lot of work ahead of us to get this thing where we need it to be,” he said.
“It’s fairly early days in terms of the design and development process. It’s something the teams are actually doing in conjunction and jointly.
“We have a very good understanding of fundamentally how the car will fit over Supercars control chassis, and that’s about as far as we’ve gone so far, so we’ve got a heck of a lot of work to do ahead of us.
“We’re hoping that we can meet the standard sort of deadlines and timetables that you see for homologating new vehicles.”
V6 OR V8: WHAT ENGINE WILL THE CAR RUN?
This is the biggie, especially given the fan reaction to Holden’s decision to pause its twin-turbo V6 engine program just over a week ago.
The good news for fans of the deep, five-litre V8 rumble is that the new Mustang will be equipped with Ford’s venerable bent eight.
“The vehicle will be running around with a V8. That’s what’s being worked on at the moment along with all the other technical feasibility pieces,” Whickman said.
“What happens in the future obviously remains open.
“We did look at other vehicles when we first thought about this, well before we even engaged with the teams or the series, but we think was the right fit. And its credentials in terms of V8 are very, very strong.”
Tickford Racing team principal Tim Edwards said the teams’ preference was also to make just one major change at a time.
“From the racer point of view, doing one thing at once is preferable,” Edwards said.
“At least we can go into 2019 with a new aerodynamics package and we’re not confusing with what might have changed from a powertrain point of view.”
Story added: “2019 is all about Mustang.
“We have a very competitive drivetrain with the V8 and both of our teams have their own respective programs, and they’re very competitive. So that’s what our focus is.”
WILL THE MUSTANG FIT OVER SUPERCARS’ CONTROL CHASSIS?
The short answer is ‘yes.’
Exactly how the Mustang body, with two doors and a low roof profile, will fit of the Car of the Future chassis designed for four-door sedans has yet to be revealed.
But it is a problem that has already been addressed by Ford and its Supercars teams.
“That was part of the study that we had to do to get to this point in time,” Edwards said.
“That work’s been done now, but now the real work starts with working out the aerodynamics etc, and that will happen over the next few months.”
HOW MUCH IS FORD INVOLVED IN THE RACECAR’S DEVELOPMENT?
The new Holden ZB Commodore Supercar was the product of a joint project between Holden and Triple Eight Race Engineering, but with more of the workload borne by the latter compared to previous new cars.
In the Mustang’s case, DJR Team Penske and Tickford’s engineers will lead the development direction, but with access to Ford Performance’s global technical resources.
“The two principal engineers are Nathaniel Osborne from Tickford Racing and Ludo (Lacroix) from DJR Team Penske,” Edwards explained. “They’re really setting the direction.
“But the grunt work, I suppose is the best way to describe it, is from Ford Performance.
“They’ve got the resources to do the design and the CFD work, etc, but the direction that they’ll take will come from our respective chief engineers.”