Edwards: Transparency would help address engine parity issue

A Tickford Racing Ford Mustang. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

A Tickford Racing Ford Mustang. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Tickford Racing Team Principal Tim Edwards believes that a transparent assessment of the data would help home in on Supercars’ Gen3 engine parity issue.

A Chevrolet Camaro has been first to the chequered flag in all nine races which have been held so far this year, although Tickford driver Cameron Waters officially won Race 1 due to Triple Eight Race Engineering’s twin disqualification.

He quipped that he was one of the better performers in “Class B” in the most recent race of the season at Wanneroo Raceway, where his and the other Ford Mustangs competed with a new engine map.

That map was intended to improve driveability but the questions around engine parity, primarily around higher-gear acceleration, remain, and Supercars Head of Motorsport has referred to an “anomaly post shift” for the Mustang unit.

Edwards is not absolutely sure if there is a disparity, but said the lack of comparative data to help answer lingering questions is a problem in itself.

“Well, we don’t know; we don’t have any data to substantiate whether it’s equal or not,” he told Speedcafe.

“We don’t have that data; all we have this subjective feedback from the drivers, whether they believe that they’re competitive or not, and that’s no different to any other year.

“Last year, if one of my drivers made a complaint about the engine when they were racing against another car, well, I don’t have the data from that car to actually to compare it.”

He contrasted the situation to the ructions over aerodynamic parity during pre-season.

That issue was finally addressed with a ‘mini VCAT’ at Temora just a week out from the start of the season which, ironically, saw the Camaro given slightly more front downforce.

However, it did settle matters once and for all on that front.

“I think the reason – and I’m one of the firm believers that there’s no question mark – over the aero parity is because we did see the data; it was totally transparent,” noted Edwards.

“When you’ve got the information for both cars there in front of you, it’s very easy to make an assessment, whether there is or isn’t parity, and that’s why the transparency from the aero test gave us all that comfort.”

Ford cannot see Chevrolet engine data, and hence diagnosis of its alleged deficit is more difficult than it otherwise might be.

In NASCAR, on the other hand, OEMs have had visibility of each other’s data, a point noted by Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director Mark Rushbrook in February.

Then, in a press conference in which he was blunt about his Gen3 parity concerns at the time, he referred to a not dissimilar situation in NASCAR with respect to its NextGen car before its debut in 2022.

“The industry came together in a very collaborative way where Chevy and Toyota and Ford and NASCAR and all of the racing teams rolled up our sleeves, and we shared data, and we looked at it objectively as engineers, and we found solutions and made changes to the cars,” said Rushbrook.

Edwards reasons that transparency “either answers the questions or opens questions.”

He added, “Without the data, all we can have is our opinions, and there are various opinions up and down the pit lane.

“But you’re making a blind statement almost, because you’ve actually got to use video evidence or drivers’ comments and things like that, so you just don’t have the facts to make an informed decision.”

Engine parity has long been a key part of Supercars’ technical regulations, and while there is nowadays just one engine supplier for each marque (Herrod Performance Engines for Ford and KRE Race Engines for Chevrolet), the task of achieving parity is more challenging than before given the Mustang’s is a double overhead cam unit and the Camaro’s a pushrod.

There is no suggestion that Supercars’ longstanding measures show a disparity.

Still, the evidence thus far suggests that the Camaro accelerates better than the Mustang in fourth, fifth, and sixth gears, and hence it is said that, while the latter might reach the same top speed as the former, it will take longer to do so.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship continues on May 19-21 at Symmons Plains, where the Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint will be held.

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