Ford backs off on Supercars commitment
By Mark Fogarty
Monday 9th October, 2023 - 5:00pm
Ford has cooled on its commitment to Supercars in the aftermath of not being in contention to win the Bathurst 1000 as the parity row ramps up again.
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Following the race, Ford and its teams lifted their self-imposed silence on parity over the weekend, highlighting the shortfall in performance.
Despite being proud of Dick Johnson Racing snaring the final podium position and paying tribute to the against-the-odds efforts of the Mustang teams, Ford Australia boss Andrew Birkic demanded urgent action by Supercars to fix the disparity.
More worryingly, Birkic walked back from his unequivocal commitment to Ford continuing its factory support through at least next year, made at the Sandown 500 last month.
His pledge was revealed exclusively to Speedcafe – in hindsight, on the expectation that the Mustangs would get some relief in time for the Bathurst 1000.
But when asked to reaffirm Ford’s commitment in the wake of the Mustangs’ struggle for race-contending speed in the biggest race, he declined to reiterate his previous pledge.
“We’re not speculating on anything,” Birkic told Speedcafe. “We will continue to focus on our teams, making sure we do the right thing with them. But also, we certainly want some areas addressed.”
When pressed to clarify Ford Australia’s position, he maintained his non-committal line.
“We always look at our investments,” he demurred. “We look where we spend our dollars and we’re always looking to race to win, so nothing to speculate about the future.
“We will continue to get better, and that’s what I mentioned to you a few weeks ago and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Birkic was more forthcoming on Ford’s continuing dissatisfaction with the lack of technical parity between the Mustangs and race-dominating Camaros.
“The parity issue still remains,” he declared. “Obviously, we’ll review the data. And that’s really important for us, to get the data and we’ll continue to do that.
“The issue does remain, though, from our perspective, and we’ll continue to meet with Supercars. We’re having ongoing dialogue with them.
“And we certainly have a lot of issues that we would like addressed – and we’ll continue to have those conversations.
“At the end of the day, we race to win.”
He was also non-committal on whether Ford expected any parity adjustment before the end of this season.
“Nothing to speculate about what is going to happen for that,” he said. “We’re obviously looking at absolute keys to address the issues for 2024. There are still a couple rounds left this year and we’ll continue to focus on that.
“Certainly, it’s really important that we focus on that.”
However, Birkic did make it clear that wind tunnel testing in America was among the measures required to overcome Ford’s parity concerns by next season.
“There’s certainly a number of things that need to happen and that is one of them,” he said. “And we’ve been very, very clear about that – and I believe that will happen.
“It needs to happen. But it’s only one element. There are a number of things that we believe it’s appropriate and reasonable to address [to bridge] the parity gap.
“But, again, let’s get the data from this weekend. We’ll work with the [DJR] engineering team and [Herrod] that does the engines, and you know, we’ll take stock.
“And we’ll continue to talk to Supercars.”
Birkic’s comments were made before Ford teams became aware that grounds for a pre-Gold Coast 500 parity review had been established, as revealed by Speedcafe.