Mustang chief confident ahead of track debut

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/10/2018
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

The American engineering powerhouse behind the development of the Mustang Supercar, Ford Performance, is confident that its new weapon will hit the ground running.

Initial private testing work for the new car is expected to be undertaken by DJR Team Penske in the coming weeks, ahead of official homologation evaluations in December.

The Michigan-based Ford Performance has provided the firepower for the Mustang's development, utilising its significant Computational Fluid Dynamics capabilities.

Its motorsport supervisor, Brian Novak, has overseen the project, which has been undertaken in close collaboration with DJRTP.

Novak visited Australia this month to run the Ford GTE demonstration car at Bathurst, as well as check in with DJRTP as the squad builds up the development car at its Queensland base.

A render of what a Mustang Supercar may look like

Although not giving away an exact debut date, Novak is confident the Mustang will be well-prepared for its homologation duties in December.

“We’re on track. We’re pretty proud of where the car is,” he told Supercars.com.

“We know where we’re at right now and where the competition is at. We think we’re in good shape and will have a good package.

"It’s been a challenge to fit it to the (control) Supercars chassis, obviously a two-door versus a four-door, so there were some challenges to overcome there.

“But ultimately we’ve got a really good package coming. We’ll be showing up, ready for it.

“The car is getting assembled, we’re done with design work. We’re ready to go to the track.”

Ford Performance’s key motorsport work is in NASCAR, where it will also introduce the Mustang body next year.

Other recent projects have included the GTE and GT4 cars demonstrated at Bathurst, with the latter set to stay in the country for a possible assault on next year’s 12 Hour.

Novak pictured with the Ford GTE

“The methods we use are the same across all our cars. We have our CFD and do the same work on the road cars, the NASCAR or the Supercar,” said Novak.

“We’re pretty proud of that. We have a really strong aerodynamics group at Ford Performance back in the US. It’s just a different set of rules to work to (in Supercars).

“It’s a different way of approaching it... the intakes are set and the brake ducts, all that sort of thing, and how the some of the key points on the chassis is so spec.

“The GTE is wide-open until you homologate, and GT4 isn’t wide open but there’s more leeway on what you can do with dive-planes and whatnot.

“There’s no BOP (Balance of Performance, used in GT racing to adjust parity), which I prefer personally.

“You’ve got to get it right, you’ve got to come out of the box correct. We like working in a series like that.

“It’s a different approach, but nothing our guys can’t handle. We’re pretty happy with how the car has come out so far.”

Ford's speed comparison at Bathurst

Novak, whose motorsport experience includes SCCA national titles as a driver, backs Supercars’ aerodynamic testing procedures, designed to ensure parity.

The process, which is being constantly evolved, consists of open-air downforce and drag comparisons between cars on a runway.

Homologating teams aim to arrive at the test as close to the benchmarks as possible, but bring a variety of aerodynamic parts to ensure they can be balanced.

“I think if you look at the racing in the series, it’s second-to-none in terms of road racing,” he said.

“Holden has come out with a really strong package this year, I wouldn’t expect anything less out of those guys, but we’re happy with where we’re at.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way Supercars does it. It has to be repeatable, you have to continue doing it that way, because that’s your knowledge base.

“I think Supercars knows what they’re doing and we’re confident that DJR Team Penske can come in with the right approach.”

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