Prodrive assessing Mustang tarmac rally program
Prodrive Racing Australia chiefs are on the ground at Targa Tasmania as the company looks to diversify its business beyond V8 Supercars.
Team principal Tim Edwards, team manager Chris O’Toole and operations manager Brad Collins are spending two days at the event, scoping out the tarmac rally scene.
While PRA’s factory Ford V8 Supercars backing will conclude at the end of this season, it has identified the upcoming introduction of the Ford Mustang road car as a possible source for business.
“We’re just doing a bit of research,” Edwards told Speedcafe.com.
“It’s a very popular event as well as Targa High Country (in Victoria), so we’re just evaluating how we may get involved in some way.
“Nothing is concrete, but that’s why we wanted to come down and understand how it all works.
“You can read the rule book but you really need to come down and talk with people to understand it a bit better.”
Edwards says that an involvement in tarmac rallying could take a variety of forms, from supply of performance parts to full car preparation.
“We’re always looking for business opportunities, we’re always looking to see with any sort of motorsport if there’s a place for us in it,” he continued.
“With the Mustang coming in the near future, is there a market there for people that want to race souped-up versions of them?
“From what we’ve seen with the number of different classes here, there’s definitely a place for the Mustang.”
PRA’s V8 Supercars rivals Walkinshaw have also dabbled in rallying over recent years, preparing tarmac and gravel entries on behalf of Renault.
Edwards admits that the impending end of the Ford V8 Supercars contract has played a role in the increased push for diversification.
The team, which Rod Nash and Rusty French bought from Prodrive UK in late 2012, has this year ditched its Ford Performance Racing tag in favour of the PRA moniker as it prepares for the future.
Sister company Prodrive Automotive Technology, which had previously underpinned the now abandoned Ford Performance Vehicles range of vehicles, has already gone through a similar process.
It underwent a management buyout in mid-2012 and, now operating as Premcar, has re-established itself with a number of automotive engineering contracts, mainly throughout China.
While a separate company, Premcar remains based at PRA’s Campbellfield facility and adds considerable scope to PRA’s potential to diversify.
“It (road car engineering) remains part of the DNA of the business, even though it’s changed hands,” said Edwards.
“A lot of the remnants of FPV and the people still working at Premcar, they’re tenants of ours inside our building.
“We’re always looking at opportunities, some inside and some outside of motorsport.
“It’s very dangerous just to focus on one income stream and one piece of the puzzle,” he added.
“It’s far better to diversify the business so we can grow it which in theory protects the business as well.”
PRA currently runs four cars in the V8 Supercars Championship, including a customer entry for Super Black Racing, as well as an in-house Dunlop Series contender.