What’s new in 2023: WAU's blockbuster Ford move

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/01/2023
  • By James Pavey

Up until now, Walkinshaw Andretti United had been the most brand loyal team in Supercars history.

Between 1990 and 2022, Walkinshaw team cars were Commodores, stretching back to the birth of the Holden Racing Team.

When it comes to brand loyalty, Dick Johnson Racing and Tickford Racing have stuck with Ford.

All other teams have raced with at least two brands — for example, before shifting to Holden in 2010, Triple Eight ran Fords.

Brad Jones Racing swapped Falcons for Commodores in 2008, and Erebus Motorsport Mercedes for Holdens in 2016.

Matt Stone Racing traded a Commodore for a Falcon in mid-2018, with Team 18 turning red from blue in 2015.

A render of a WAU Gen3 Mustang

Grove Racing’s previous iteration — Kelly Racing — debuted in Holdens in 2009 before running Nissans between 2013 and 2019.

It’s a big move for WAU, but an important one, as it gains factory support from Ford.

The move itself is arguably the biggest in the history of the sport, given WAU — in its HRT days — was the Holden team.

What’s happening?

Chaz Mostert and Nick Percat will trade Gen2 Commodores for Gen3 Mustangs from 2023.

The swap comes at a good time given all teams will be running brand new cars this year.

WAU has big ambitions and factory backing is crucial for the team, which will out to prove changing brands is a risk worth taking.

The team did it all with General Motors — in 32 years and 910 races, the team won 188 races, six drivers' titles and eight Bathurst 1000s.

Key is that, aside from changing brands, little will change in the way of personnel for WAU.

It’s arguably coming out of the switch stronger given it will have factory support for the first time since 2016.

How will the team fare?

The team ended 2022 with a famous one-two in Adelaide, putting an emotional full-stop on its Holden history.

However, WAU has made no secret it wants to challenge for titles, and despite the change, 2023 is looming as a big year.

Away from the track, the team s moving into a new workshop, with the move centred on the Gen3 builds.

At the track, the ingredients are certainly there for results — Mostert and Percat are proven front-runners, despite the latter's struggles in 2022.

At 30 and 34, Mostert and Percat are yet to show their absolute best.

The team’s form has typically fluctuated event-to-event in recent years, so a title push will be centred on consistency.

Key to that is how both drivers perform. Should one driver be fighting for wins, the other must be towards the front with him.

'We're going places'

On the other side of the coin is the fan sentiment. The announcement polarised fans, but both drivers have significant star power.

At the time of the announcement, WAU Team Principal Bruce Stewart said it best.

"Firstly, we love our fans,” Stewart said.

"They’re super passionate, they love our team and they’ve enjoyed the successes along the way.

"Holden doesn’t exist anymore at the end of the year, so we’ve set a direction going forwards with Gen3.

"We will be proudly representing Holden to the end of the year. We hope our fans can join us. We sympathise with some of the fans.

“We hope most of them can see that we’re still the same team, with the same values. We hope and expect to retain a lot of our fans to stay with us.

"If some can’t make that leap we understand and we thank them for their support, but we’re going places."

Will the blockbuster brand switch turn WAU back into genuine title contenders? Only time will tell.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will commence in Newcastle on March 10-12.

Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

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