Crunch time looms for Ford in V8 talks
V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton has warned that Ford must commit to the sport next year or risk losing its teams to rival manufacturers in 2016.
As fans eagerly await a promised post-season announcement from Ford on its future in the sport, Warburton has stressed that the true crunch time for Blue Oval teams will not come until next season.
Ford Performance Racing and DJR Team Penske are next year committed to running the FG X model that is currently under homologation in association with Ford Australia.
Warburton has not spoken with Ford Australia president Bob Graziano since the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 early last month but says he is in constant contact with senior Ford management.
“Next year will be the crunch year because I would imagine that those teams (FPR and Penske) would be seeking other manufacturers if they weren’t getting support,” Warburton told Speedcafe.com
“The debate out there is slightly getting slightly ahead of crunch time which is not now; it’s next year.
“The decision has been made from those teams (FPR and DJR Penske) to put Falcons on the grid so in some ways it’s a little bit of a free kick.
“So I don’t think you can draw anything into the timing (of a promised post-season announcement from Ford) other than to say we all know the decision we want to hear.”
Roger Penske has already stated his intentions to run a factory-backed V8 Supercars team by 2016, with or without Ford, while FPR has notably introduced the non-brand specific ‘Prodrive Racing Australia’ moniker to its pit equipment over recent events.
Warburton stressed that regardless of whether Ford continues with factory support in the category, it will still be represented on the grid in 2015.
“In fairness to Ford they are involved in the sport next year, (even though) no definitive decision has been made in terms of supporting a team,” he said
“Importantly for our fans there will absolutely be Falcons on the grid next year, whether or not discussions materialise in terms of factory support.”
FPR co-owner Rod Nash said his squad had been in constant contact with the manufacturer since Bathurst last month and that he would dearly love to be in a position to give fans a positive story.
“There has been a lot of discussions since Bathurst,” Nash told Speedcafe.com
“As we said at Bathurst it was untrue that Ford were either out or people had made statements that Ford were out.
“If we all know the reality of it, it would be good to get out there and tell the positive story for all the fans.”
The prospect of FPR being reborn as a Ford Dealer Team operation has gathered some impetus behind the scenes with Nash admitting the squad enjoys a solid relationship with the dealer network.
“Yes absolutely. We’ve always had dealer support.
“As for isolated deals the dealings are still directly with Ford.”
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s recent story on FPR’s ongoing Ford discussions