Walkinshaw: Camaro axing vindicates Ford Supercars defection
Thursday 23rd March, 2023 - 2:14pm
Ryan Walkinshaw has taken Chevrolet’s decision to cease production of the Camaro as vindication of his Supercars team’s switch to Ford for the Gen3 era.
Walkinshaw Andretti United was, for over a quarter of a century, the factory Holden Racing Team, during which time it enjoyed a period of unparalleled dominance and itself became a cultural icon.
Last May, it confirmed a defection which was unthinkable during the HRT’s halcyon days of the late-1990s and early-2000s, and now fields a pair of Ford Mustangs in the Repco Supercars Championship.
Chevrolet has now announced, less than a fortnight on from the 2023 season-opener, that production of the Camaro as we know it will end in January 2024.
Supercars has since advised that the nameplate will be part of the championship until at least the end of 2025, which provides a level of certainty about its on-track future, but does again creates the awkward scenario of teams racing a car which is no longer available in showrooms.
That was also the case for the last three years of Gen2, after Holden announced in December 2019 that it would cease sales of the ZB Commodore, which WAU fielded at the time.
Walkinshaw was asked on by a fan on Twitter about how much awareness he had that the end of Camaro production was coming.
He replied, “All of it. Does our move to Ford make a bit more sense now?”
The WAU Director and co-owner would, of course, have had more insight than most into Chevrolet’s plans given Walkinshaw Group had been converting Camaros to right-hand drive for sale in Australia in partnership with General Motors, and still counts the Silverado as part of its range.
In his team’s first event with Ford, Blue Oval heavy-hitters Andrew Birkic (CEO/President, Ford Australia) and Mark Rushbrook (Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports) were a regular presence at the Clayton-based team’s pit garage in Newcastle.
Walkinshaw spoke glowingly of the relationship to Speedcafe.com.
“The relationship with Ford’s been fantastic,” he said.
“They’ve obviously been in our garage a lot, which is fantastic. We’ve got a great relationship with them and building up a good relationship with Andrew Birkic and Mark Rushbrook, who have been fantastic to deal with.
“[I am] Really, really happy having made the change.
“The engagement and support we’ve been getting from Ford is something we’ve not had for a very long time, so they promised they would give us that sort of factory support and we feel that.
“So, fingers crossed, that’s the start of a very good relationship.”
WAU’s Ford tenure did indeed get off to a promising start, with Mobil 1 Optus Mustang driver Chaz Mostert leaving Event 1 with the championship lead after officially being classified with second placings in both races at the Newcastle East Street Circuit.
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