DJR welcomes pressure from within Ford ranks
Friday 17th February, 2023 - 6:00am
Shell V-Power Racing Team boss Ben Croke has welcomed the pressure from within a bolstered Ford side of the brand divide in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship.
Dick Johnson Racing finished second in last year’s teams’ championship, behind General Motors outfit Triple Eight Race Engineering, has scored the Blue Oval’s most recent teams’ and drivers’ titles, and is also its homologation team.
Regardless of which squad emerges on the very top of the table at season’s end, the battle for Ford bragging rights shapes as a fascinating one.
The number of Mustangs on the grid on a regular basis has grown from nine to 11 with the defection of Walkinshaw Andretti United, which shook down its Mobil 1 NTI and Mobil 1 Optus entries at Winton in recent days.
WAU finished fourth in the teams’ championship last December while Grove Racing took fifth, and the Braeside-based operation continues to build with signings such as new-for-2022 Team Principal David Cauchi, Technical Director Grant McPherson, and star enduro co-driver Garth Tander.
In fact, the four multi-car teams which will field Mustangs this year filled second through fifth in the teams’ standings last year, with third going to the Tickford Racing pairing of Cameron Waters and James Courtney, the former of whom was second in the drivers’ title race and also a Bathurst 1000 pole-sitter for a second time in three seasons.
Furthermore, while the Blanchard Racing Team is not a realistic chance of a teams’ title with just one car on the grid, it made a statement by being the first competitor to shake down and test in the current pre-season.
Asked about the pressure on DJR, Croke, the Stapylton squad’s Team Principal, told Speedcafe.com, “There’s always pressure on us.
“Tickford had strong performing cars over the last few years as well.
“There’s always pressure from your own manufacturing side of the fence and that’s a good thing, as it pushes us to be better and they want to be better as well.”
DJR completed its pre-season shakedown activity yesterday when the #11 Mustang ran at Queensland Raceway, with Anton De Pasquale and the man who would ordinarily saddle up in Car #17, Will Davison, both getting laps again.
Despite the booking only being for half a day given the outing was postponed from earlier in the week due to poor weather, and despite teething problems with what is an almost entirely new specification of race car, Croke was left upbeat by the experience.
“It went okay; a few of the similar sort of issues that have been experienced on other cars along the way, but overall, reasonably happy,” he said.
“I think, had we been able to run longer on the day, I think it definitely would have been a 400km day.
“Even with the short running we did, we managed a lot of miles, which is good.
“Pretty much all the running we did was around changes and trying to understand what’s going on with it,” he added.
“There’s always lots to learn, there’s a lot of stuff that’s different, so it’s just trying to understand what each thing does as well.”
DJR’s next track activity will be the all-in test at Sydney Motorsport Park this coming Wednesday.
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