Walkinshaw vows to “have a big crack” at title

Ryan Walkinshaw at the 2023 Thrifty Newcastle 500. Image: Ross Gibb Photography.

Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw has vowed that his turncoat team will “have a big crack” at winning the Supercars championship in its first season with Ford.

WAU defected to the Blue Oval after more than 30 years with Holden, switching to the Mustang rather than staying in the GM family with the Chevrolet Camaro.

In its Ford debut at the Newcastle 500, the famed Clayton squad scored two seconds with Chaz Mostert, who leads the drivers’ title following the disqualification of Triple Eight from Saturday’s opening race.

The team in its Holden Racing Team, Walkinshaw Racing and WAU iterations hasn’t seriously contended for a championship in more than a decade.

But Walkinshaw, whose partners in WAU are IndyCar legend Michael Andretti and McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown, is cautiously bullish after Mostert’s front-running form at Newcastle, including a narrow loss on Sunday.

“It’s only one round,” he said. “We’ll take each round as it comes. Chaz is confident and we’re pissed off that we didn’t win the race. So it’s good that we’re angry.

“It shows that the guys now expect to be able to win races. So that’s encouraging and we’ll have a big crack.”

Walkinshaw wants to wait and see how Gen3 shakes out over the next few rounds amid an inevitable on-going parity debate before declaring that Mostert will be a title contender.

The next event is the four-race Australian Grand Prix supports at the end of the month.

“Let’s see how we go at the AGP,” Walkinshaw said, alluding to the very different nature of the fast and open Albert Park F1 circuit, as well as the four-sprint race format. “There’s a lot to still unwind.

“There’s still going to be this big parity discussion through the first few rounds at a minimum.”

Walkinshaw admitted that WAU’s first event as a Ford team felt strange – but in a good way.

“It was a little bit weird,” he said. “It was a big moment for us. But now it kind of feels like we’re already settled at home. Andrew Birkic (Ford Australia chief) and Mark Rushbrook (Ford Performance global motor sport  boss) have been have been really, really supportive, really engaged, which is fantastic.

“It shows how engaged and how passionate they are, and how committed they are to Supercars, which is fantastic to see. It feels like a good change for us.”

He added: “We wouldn’t expect anything less than our ambitions to win. But there are always the unknowns of moving over to another brand and seeing how that may impact your team.

“But so far, we seem to have moved a little bit forward. That was just positive.”

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