Penske: Ford is committed to Supercars
By Mat Coch
Sunday 20th October, 2019 - 6:00am
Roger Penske believes Ford is committed to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship as it helps generate interest in the Ford Mustang.
Together with Tickford Racing, DJR Team Penske homologated the Mustang for Supercars competition ahead of the 2019 season.
That brought with it a return of manufacturer involvement from Ford Motor Company, with significant aspects of the design having been carried out by Ford Performance.
DJR Team Penske has enjoyed a strong season with the all new car, with Scott McLaughlin resetting the most number of wins in a season – a record that had stood for a generation.
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The car also claimed victory at Bathurst, the first Mustang to do so and the first Ford in five years, while in championship terms DJR Team Penske leads the teams’ standings and McLaughlin looks nailed on for his second consecutive drivers’ crown.
That success has served to underscore the reasons why Ford became involved once again, which came in part courtesy of Penske’s NASCAR links.
“I think Ford understands and we were very lucky, along with Tickford, to be able to get Ford back in,” said Penske.
“I think our relationship with Ford in NASCAR certainly made a difference and they saw a benefit here.
“When Mark Rushbrook (Ford Performance global motorsport director) came to a race, he saw the impact it has in the market place.
“Ford now has a special Mustang they’re selling that’s a by-product of the success the Mustang had this year.”
From next season, Tickford and DJR Team Penske will be joined in the Ford stable by Kelly Racing, the Braeside squad having lost factory Nissan support at the end of 2018 and run with privately entered Nissan Altimas in 2019.
That switch will mean Ford and General Motors will be the only manufacturers represented on the grid.
Despite the drop in brand diversity, Penske believes the company has understood the benefits of its continued involvement.
It left the billionaire to suggest Supercars would benefit from a model similar to that used in IndyCar, where cars are sold on by the leading teams with the manufacturers enjoying the marketing benefits of the association rather than investing huge sum directly.
“Commercially I think it’s been good for Ford and they’re 100 percent behind the Ford Mustang in this series,” Penske said.
“They’re a long-term player and I think Roland (Dane) knows that and certainly (Michael) Andretti, (Ryan) Walkinshaw and Zak (Brown) know we need manufacturers here.
“This isn’t a place for them to dump a lot of money, I think we have to have it in a way where can build cars that we can most importantly sell to teams below us when we’re done, and bring those second tier people up like Indianapolis.
“You can go to Indianapolis and buy a used IndyCar and lease an engine and you can go in the race,” he added.
“In fact the car that won this year, the tub was three years old. So we need to have that (in Supercars).
“The costs are certainly key, but I think Ford is in – any noise you hear, and there’s always noise around this, would be just normal.”