Ford Performance Racing and DJR Team Penske are facing a tight schedule in order to have a full fleet of FG X Falcons on the V8 Supercars grid next season.
As previously reported, the two teams will upgrade their cars to reflect the new model despite neither having sponsorship arrangements in place with the manufacturer for 2015.
Ford is understood to be funding the development of the FG X bodywork, while FPR and Penske are sharing the production costs.
FPR team principal Tim Edwards confirmed to Speedcafe.com that the new aerodynamic package is well advanced, but admits that homologating and producing a full inventory of parts in time for February’s pre-season test will be tight.
The team has been working with Ford and Computational Fluid Dynamics specialists Total Sim, which operates out of the United States and United Kingdom, for several months.
The project is now in its first stages of production with a front-bar pattern currently being created in Melbourne, from which the team will be able to produce moulds and, eventually, the first of the new parts.
The CFD program began with the parties having to first make a model of the FG V8 Supercar, which was designed independently of the factory squad by Triple Eight’s Ludo Lacroix in 2008.
“It’s been a fairly big project because it’s not just about designing one part and it’s done,” Edwards told Speedcafe.com of the FG X.
“You CFD everything, do one derivative, test it (with CFD), make a change and do it all again. Every one of those stages can take weeks of design and surfacing work.
“There’s still a little bit of work to do around the rear bar, rear wing and endplates; that’s the focus at the moment of the engineering and CFD work.
“Given the front bar is such a huge part, the tooling for that takes a considerable time in manufacturing.
“That’s been a lot of the focus but we’re very close with the rear and hopefully we’ll release the tooling for that in the next couple of weeks.”
The first FG X is likely to undertake initial straight-line validation running shortly after the season-ending Sydney 500, prior to undergoing V8 Supercars homologation testing.
V8 Supercars is yet to confirm the timing of its testing, which is also expected to see a third iteration of the Nissan Altima homologated.
“We’re still waiting to find out from V8s when the homologation running will be, whether it’s late December or early January,” said Edwards.
“Our plan will be that, prior to that, we’ll have to run the car on an airstrip or at the (Ford) proving ground (at You Yangs in Victoria) to make sure it matches the CFD figures.
“We’ve done three different configurations of the front bar to make sure we have options to test on the day because it’s never exactly the same running it for real.”
With a category-leading composites department at his fingertips, Edwards is confident that enough of the parts can be produced in time for the start of the new season.
“We were about a week late releasing the front bar pattern work,” he said of the timing. “It’s always going to be tight but I think we’ll be fine.”
Edwards stresses that the primary reason for upgrading to the FG X is to ensure that the team is as attractive as possible to Ford as the parties continue to discuss future support.
The team is also confident that it will be able to improve the performance of the package within V8 Supercars’ aero homologation process.
FPR played an active role in the review of V8 Supercars’ previous testing procedures, which it felt left the FG hamstrung from the start of 2013.
“If we’re going to be supported by Ford we need to be running their latest model,” he said.
“(But) we’re hopeful that we’re going to have a better mouse trap by changing to the new model.
“It’s not going to be very different from what we’ve got because the aero process will determine that, but of course we’re hoping that things that aren’t assessed, like the pitch-sensitivity and those sort of things… you can get an aero benefit that’s nothing to do with the testing process.
“They’re the areas we want to make a gain in, because downforce and drag are set on the day.”
FPR’s extensive work to date on the FG X’s aerodynamic package ensures Penske, which only recently reached a deal with DJR to enter the championship, has not played a role in the design.
The customer team is, however, expected to work with FPR on a number of engineering tasks for the homologation, mainly aimed at weight savings.
While all cars run to mandated overall and front-axle weights, the six-year old FG has been left behind its rivals in several areas, with some of the newer cars featuring lightweight headlights, dashboards and other components.
Unless rules are changed, the FG X will still be faced with a panel weight disadvantage, however, as the new road car continues to feature a steel, rather than lighter aluminium, bonnet and boot-lid.
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