EXCLUSIVE: Ford commits amid parity turmoil
By Mark Fogarty
Tuesday 19th September, 2023 - 6:00am
Ford is committed to Supercars for at least another year despite ongoing Gen3 parity concerns.
The Sandown 500 did nothing to assuage Ford fears of a Bathurst 1000 rout, with the best-placed Mustang coming home sixth behind a squadron of Chevrolet Camaros.
Speculation was rife over the weekend that Ford’s frustration with parity had boiled over to Broadmeadows deciding to pull all support at the end of this season.
Some alarmists even suggested Ford would withdraw IP approval for Supercars to use the seventh-gen Mustang shape, creating a crisis.
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But Ford Australia boss Andrew Birkic, speaking exclusively to Speedcafe, confirmed that the Blue Oval is committed to Supercars in 2024 despite being unhappy about Gen3 technical parity.
“We’d love to be in a stronger position on the track,” Birkic told the Speedcafe Newscast podcast. “We’re backing our teams. They know what they’re doing.
“We’re committed to racing in 2024.”
He is not convinced technical parity is close heading to Bathurst.
“We don’t believe there’s technical parity,“ Birkic declared. “The frustration continues. Nothing’s changed from that perspective. We’ve seen a peppering of some better results, but certainly a long way away from where we feel we need to be.”
He also confirmed that Ford had cancelled advertising support of the Supercars broadcasts and, from next year, will no longer supply the Safety Car and rescue vehicles – as forecast by Speedcafe.
“We’ve made a decision to do that and we’re comfortable with that,” Birkic explained. “We’re always looking at our investments and where we spend our very precious marketing dollars.
“And that’s just the decision we’ve made.”
While trusting Supercars to get parity right, Birkic admitted that the Blue Oval was frustrated by the continued disparity in races.
“The series’ premise is technical parity, right?” he said. “For us, when we go racing, there’s a formula and the key component of that formula is you want to win.
“We want a chance of winning.”
Despite the discontent reaching into the upper echelons of Ford in the USA, Birkic is adamant that Supercars is an important marketing platform for the popular Mustang and top-selling Ranger.
He is committed to helping Ford teams become fully competitive by working with Supercars.
“We’ll certainly continue our dialogue with Supercars, as we will with DJR [Dick Johnson Racing], the homologation team which has done a super job.
“We want to keep racing and we want to keep getting better. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Meanwhile, Ford teams are up in arms, demanding ‘adjustments’ in time for the Bathurst 1000.
There’s talk of more front aero downforce for the Mustangs, plus some lighter body panels.
Ford homologation team DJR’s big boss David Noble concedes that something has to be done to equalise race performance before Bathurst, bridging the performance gap.
“It’s too far,” Noble told Speedcafe. “There’s no doubt it’s too far. So we have to continue those conversations [with Supercars]. We want to be able to get closer to the front to compete and win that that race [Bathurst 1000].
“We have to continue those conversations this week, between all Ford teams and Supercars.”
Other Ford teams as well as DJR are clamouring for concessions ahead of the Bathurst 1000.