It’s finally here. After years of hope and speculation, the Ford Mustang will make its Supercars debut this season.
The Mustang replaces the FG X Falcon as Ford’s racing weapon in Australia; the Falcon nameplate saying goodbye to Supercars two years after local manufacturing ended.
Mustang becomes the first two-door car on the Supercars grid, pitted against the ZB Commodore that debuted in 2018 and Nissan’s venerable Altima, now in its seventh year.
There will be six Mustangs in the field, with two entries from DJR Team Penske and four from Tickford Racing, including 23Red Racing’s customer effort.
The Mustang program was announced by Ford Australia in Melbourne in April
How it happened
While the two teams wanted to introduce the Mustang to Supercars for some time, they required Ford’s support to develop it for the category.
Ford had officially withdrawn its Supercars backing at the end of 2015 as it worked through the process of shutting down local manufacturing the following year.
But, under a deal signed in March of 2018, the Blue Oval is officially back, having given both its blessing and technological firepower to the Mustang’s development.
Its Detroit, USA, based Ford Performance led the way on the design of the race car, utilising its in-house Computational Fluid Dynamics capabilities.
It worked in tandem with DJRTP, which took over from Tickford as Ford’s official homologation team for the Mustang, to adapt the body to the control Supercars chassis.
While the design – including its high-roof, sloped nose and large rear wing – has been polarising among fans, the release of the various race liveries is eagerly awaited.
How will it fare?
The aerodynamic parity rules in Supercars mean no new car should come in and dominate.
Mustang’s aerodynamic package has been set following runway testing between all three cars last December, measuring them for downforce and drag.
However, new homologations have traditionally performed pretty well, on the basis that there’s lots of little areas that can be improved on a new car.
Since the Project Blueprint era began in 2003, new Fords have had a strong record of winning the title on debut, with the BA (‘03), FG (’09) and FG X (2015) all achieving the feat.
Recent Commodores – the VE (2007) and VF (2013) – also ticked that box, before the ZB came up short last year.
The ZB came out of the blocks firing, dominating the Adelaide season opener with Shane van Gisbergen amid a flurry of paddock chat about composite panels.
The Mustang completed tests at Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island in November
But crucial points were lost while Triple Eight struggled to consistently get the car in the right set-up window at subsequent events.
Notably, all the major Holden teams found early success with the car.
Triple Eight, Erebus Motorsport, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Garry Rogers Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing all scored at least one podium during the first two events of the season.
After a torrid 2018, Tickford Racing will be hoping for a similar step forward with the Mustang, while expectations are extremely high at DJRTP after winning the ’18 drivers’ title.