Encouraging signs on parity for pace-setting Ford teams
Friday 28th April, 2023 - 7:10pm
Grove Racing’s Stephen Grove and Blanchard Racing Team’s Tim Blanchard are encouraged by the new Ford engine map after topping Supercars Practice in Perth.
David Reynolds’s last-minute effort in Grove’s #26 Penrite Mustang saw him edge Todd Hazelwood by just 0.0348s after 90 minutes of running at Wanneroo Raceway, with Erebus Motorsport’s championship leader Brodie Kostecki first of the Chevrolet Camaro contingent at 0.1153s further back.
The session is the first since a new engine map was loaded into the Gen3 Mustangs which is primarily intended to improve driveability by addressing low-rev engine response.
While engineers and drivers now have a mass of data to pore over from Friday afternoon’s unusually long session, the early signs are good for the Blue Oval brigade.
In a special press conference attended by the respective team bosses of the Practice top three, Blanchard said, “I’ve haven’t spoken to Todd yet, but the fact I’m sitting up here means he’d probably be pretty happy.”
Grove added, “Yeah, same thing; the guys haven’t sat down and done any analysis but obviously Dave’s on top so, you know, the process must be working.”
The top eight at the end of the session featured entries from as many different teams, with Matt Payne ninth-quickest at just 0.2476s off the pace in the second of the Grove Racing Mustangs.
The young New Zealander is currently the leading rookie in the championship standings, holding 17th position on his way to Perth, and was as high as second-quickest in Practice.
With 90 minutes available, there was also the opportunity for a real-world lesson from team-mate Reynolds.
“He’s gone really well; the balance for us has been really good,” remarked Grove.
“Dave has so much experience – he’s been around for so long – and Matty, it’s his third race weekend [as a solo Supercars Championship driver].
“We’re really rapt with where he’s going. We were able to overlay Dave’s data and we actually, in that session, got him to follow Dave around the track just to pick up a few little points.
“So, they spent six or seven laps [running together] and it was quite interesting because Matty was there or thereabouts with him but then when we got on the radio and explained to him that he had better tyres than Dave, he sort of caught him much quicker.
“It’s just a development programme; he’s competing with the best drivers in Australia so to take that step’s a big step for him but we’re really rapt with the way he’s going.”
Qualifying for Race 7 of the season starts tomorrow at 11:10 local time/13:10 AEST.
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