Tickford ‘surprised’ by Gen3 test success

Tim Edwards

Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards

Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards admits he was “surprised” by how well the team’s first Gen3 test went in baking conditions at Winton Motor Raceway.

On Wednesday, Cam Waters completed close to 110 laps in a near-faultless full day’s running in the Ford squad’s inaugural new Mustang.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m surprised how well it went,” Edwards told Speedcafe.com, also paying tribute to team workers as they rush to complete three more cars.

“I mean, it literally didn’t miss a beat.

“We know some of the teams that have run in the last couple of days and last week had a few teething issues and, touch wood, mechanically, we had none, which is great, you know, just testament to the job the guys have done building the car.

“It’s been an impressive effort to see them building not just that car, but the other three cars that are not far behind, and with the amount of work that’s gone in, and the late nights and the seven days a week and everything else, you know, it’s a real credit to everybody at the team.

“[We] Did pretty much 110 laps and didn’t miss a beat. So to go through quite a bit of testing, with a race run at the end and a couple of practice starts, it was an outstanding first day.”

Edwards was impressed by the unprecedented lack of drama during the very first extended shakedown of an almost completely new car design, boding well for the reliability of the Gen3 racers just a few weeks before the season-opening Thrifty Newcastle 500.

“It’s a fantastic first hit-out for the car and I think there’ll be a few people at Supercars that are probably breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief as well, because you don’t know what you don’t know,” he said.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that this is later than anybody wanted and we could have had all kinds of issues.

“We could have had oil spewing out of it, we could have had … who knows what could have gone wrong but, touch wood, nothing did and it’s a great sign.”

The new #6 Monster Energy Racing Mustang made its track debut unliveried in matt black, increasing heat soak in ambient temperatures of up to 31 degrees in the afternoon.

As well as the car, the heat was a test for Waters.

“Unfortunately for him, we didn’t have the cool suit or his drinks bottle or anything like that fitted,” Edwards explained.

“So the 20-plus lap runs made him work. But he didn’t have his feet burning or anything like that.

“Obviously, until you run the cars for prolonged periods in high temperatures, you just don’t know what the cabin temperature and the surfaces are going to be like, and it all looks like it’s going to be okay, which is very encouraging.”

Edwards predicts a volatile start to the Repco Supercars Championship as teams and drivers come to grips with the dramatic Gen3 change – just like the switch to Car Of The Future in 2013.

“My honest feeling is that that’s exactly what we’ll see in the first half of 2023,” he said. “You can have a reliable car, but nobody really knows what they don’t know yet. I mean, we’re all throwing darts at a dartboard.

“Until you actually start running the cars, learning, building up all the data, your knowledge bank, every single team, including the homologation teams, is having a fair old crack and throwing a dart at a dartboard.

“By the middle of the year, my expectation is, the teams that have been at the top for the last decade or two decades, will rise to the occasion still. But I think in the first half of the year, you will see some very strange race winners, which is I think, fantastic for the sport.”

In Wednesday’s testing, Waters ran on hard compound tyres until using softs in the final hour or so as he more fully explored the Mustang’s performance potential around Winton’s twisting 3 km, 12-turn layout.

The Gen3 racers have a lot less downforce, but lighter weight and updated soft and super-soft Dunlop tyres, which Edwards believes will ultimately result in comparable lap times to the last of the previous generation.

“We’re somewhere between one-and-a-half to two seconds slower than we were on the equivalent tyre with Car Of the Future,” he said. “Now, that’s just a like-for-like, here [at Winton]. I mean, if we were racing here this year, we would be on the super soft tyre, I’d imagine.

“We’re going to a softer compound tyre at most places this year, so that lap time difference compared to last year, a lot of that’s going to be negated by the fact that we’re on a softer tyre. So, I expect you’ll probably see quite similar lap times, year-on-year.”

Tickford Racing is scheduled to test again at Winton on Monday, planning to run Waters again along with the first outing for Thomas Randle’s #55 Castrol Racing entry.

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