Cameron Waters believes that the Ford teams’ collectively strong showing in qualifying for the first two races of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 means nothing regarding ‘parity bullshit’ talk.
Scott McLaughlin shattered the old practice record, which team-mate Fabian Coulthard also broke, on his way to qualifying on Armor All Pole Position for both Race 3 and Race 4 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Albert Park.
The strong performance the Shell V-Power Racing Team duo and a trio of Tickford/23Red drivers furthermore made for a Mustang lockout of the first two rows for Race 3 and Ford scooping five of the top six positions on the grid for Race 4.
The parity issue has been brewing since the season opener in Adelaide, where Red Bull Holden Racing Team boss Roland Dane suggested that his drivers only achieved podiums due to Ford drivers “treading on their feet”.
Waters, however, maintains that the impressive showing from the new model at Albert Park is down to DJR Team Penske’s continued form at Australian Grand Prix venue and gains made by Tickford Racing over the off-season.
“Everyone’s forgetting… they go on about this parity bullshit, but to be completely honest, (in years) ’17 (and) ’18, these guys (McLaughlin and Coulthard) were still up the front, winning every weekend if it was whatever car it was, so we come into this year and it’s actually no different,” claimed Waters, who qualified third and then fourth for the first two races of the event.
“The only difference is Tickford has taken a step forward and the percentage is a lot closer to those guys so I think that’s one thing to look at.
“I think when they bang on about parity and all this stuff (and) it takes away from all the boys that have worked the Christmas break, hard back at the workshop.”
Team-mate Chaz Mostert, who made two errors on his way to 22nd in Qualifying For Race 3 but will start alongside McLaughlin in Race 4, also bristled at suggestions of a disparity between the Mustang and new-for-2018 ZB Commodore.
He pointed to Whincup qualifying third for Race 4 at only 0.0788s away from pole as further evidence of Waters’ comments.
“The controversy, too, you see it in the fans,” said Mostert.
“Ever since we’ve started talking about it, since Adelaide, for whatever reason, it’s actually made a mad negative response from the fans, like the media fuelling it.
“I mean, J-Dub was, what were you in the last one; third, eight one-hundredths off?” he turned to Whincup and asked in the post-qualifying press conference.
“What car were you in; a Holden? Come on guys.”
McLaughlin had, however, gone over four tenths slower than Qualifying for Race 3 in taking his second pole of the day as he admitted to an error in the latter session.
On that occasions, Waters was only 0.0128s slower than McLaughlin, whereas he was 0.2139s off the front row on Qualifying for Race 3.
Supporting his case is that the DJRTP Fords have been on form at Albert Park in recent years, taking five poles out of eight in the preceding two events (including three lockouts) and four race wins out of eight (including two one-twos).
Waters went as far as saying that his Monster Energy Mustang actually felt worse than it did a year ago in FGX Falcon form, when teams were allowed to use twin spring suspension.
He believes that the changes under the skin have had far more effect on the Fords than the new Mustang bodywork has.
“My car feels worse than last year to be completely honest with you, so twin spring and that kind of thing has definitely changed,” he explained.
“For my car, it’s really getting our head around the linear spring and the car’s comfortable and doing most things we want to do but there are sections where I feel like the Falcon was better last year.
“If it’s Falcon or Mustang, I think it’s as much or more so what we’ve done with mechanical grip, to be honest.”
Armor All Qualifying for each of the latter two races of the weekend takes place tomorrow from 1350 local time/AEDT.