Uncertainty surrounds cause of Mustang Supercars fires
Saturday 1st April, 2023 - 7:46pm
The Gen3 Technical Working Group is meeting tonight after two Ford Mustang Supercars caught fire for unknown reasons in as many days at the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint.
Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Nick Percat could not complete a single lap before Car #2 was ablaze in its left-front corner in Race 4 at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, and he would retreat to the pits to have the fire extinguished.
A similar, but more severe fate befell the #5 Tickford Racing entry of James Courtney in Race 5.
Speedcafe.com has seen a bulletin with Supercars’ engine expert, Craig Hasted, sent this afternoon, hours before Race 5, advising teams to ensure their oil catch tank is regularly drained.
That bulletin seemed to contradict earlier theories about an electrical problem and a report on the broadcast this morning that the Car #2 fire was caused by an amperage spike.
It stated, in part, “At this point in time, we do not believe this was caused by the BF1 TMPS ECU.”
Speedcafe.com understands that teams are disputing what Supercars has said behind the scenes, while Tickford boss Tim Edwards said that his team checked its catch cans before Race 5, consistent with the advice in the bulletin.
“Plenty of theories; everybody’s got theories,” he told selected media, including Speedcafe.com.
“It’s obviously the same as what happened to Nick’s car, but there’s just a multitude of theories.”
Speedcafe.com understands that some teams have been unhappy with Supercars’ response to the drama so far, and are disputing its position on the matter.
When the above mentioned bulletin was raised with Edwards, he responded, “We checked the catch cans before the race and there was no concern.
“There’s nothing in the catch can.”
He added, “I think I think the source of it’s come from the electrical but we don’t know yet.”
Representatives from Ford and all of its other teams were in and out of the Tickford garage after Race 5, as was Jeromy Moore from Chevrolet homologation team Triple Eight Race Engineering (which undertook much of the development of Gen3), with the issue now under discussion.
“The Technical Working Group is meeting at the moment, so we’re letting all the smart people discuss it,” added Edwards.
The aforementioned bulletin read, in full:
“Car 2 Fire
“Sent to all Team Managers
“Supercars are continuing to investigate the fire in Car 2 during Race 4.
“At this point in time, we do not believe this was caused by the BF1 TMPS ECU.
“It is recommended (noting this may not be related to the fire) that Teams ensure that oil tank is set to the correct level. And the oil catch tank is drained regularly.
“It is also recommended all oil catch tanks be complete drained from the drain plug at the bottom as the oil catch tank is baffled.
The car is now a scratching from Race 6, with Edwards explaining that it will go back to Tickford Campbellfield workshop, in Melbourne’s north, tonight.
“There’s no way we can fix that; we don’t have half the spares we need to fix it,” he remarked.
“So, we’re going to give it a wash and put it on a flatbed and take it to the factory.”
The team still has Cam Waters, Thomas Randle, and Declan Fraser on-track tomorrow.
Asked if he had any concerns about putting drivers back into cars which may catch fire, Edwards simply responded, “Yes.”
Both Percat and Courtney were able to exit the cars under their own power, with the latter seen walking through the Supercars paddock after Race 5.
Race 6 takes place tomorrow morning.
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