FIRST MUSTANG SUPERCAR’S HISTORY WITH A DAYTONA 500 WINNER

The first Ford Mustang GT Supercars has a link with 2022 Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric. Pics: DJR, Twitter / Fabian Coulthard

THE start of the 2022 American racing season has been very good to Team Penske.

The crown jewel of the NASCAR Cup Series, the Daytona 500, was won by the team’s flagship #2 Ford Mustang with Austin Cindric at the wheel, while multiple Supercars Champion and 2019 Bathurst 1000 winner Scott McLaughlin posted a breakthrough victory in the first race of the 2022 IndyCar Series.

In a twist of fate, there is a Supercars chassis that links the pair: DJRTP02.

This particular chassis is most famous for being the prototype for the Ford Mustang Supercar, carrying out the preliminary on-track testing work in late 2018 carrying a stunning camouflage livery.

However, it was originally built by the team as a Falcon FG X in 2016 for Fabian Coulthard and was driven by both Cindric and McLaughlin across its history.

Back in 2016, Cindric took part in a driver evaluation day for DJR Team Penske at Queensland Raceway.

Then age 17, driving in the Pirelli World Challenge and making starts in the ARCA series as well as the Bathurst 12 Hour, Cindric turned 100 laps aboard DJRTP02 with a best time that was just a couple of tenths shy of a benchmark set by regular driver Coulthard that day.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this would be a great car to drive at Bathurst and on the street circuits,” Cindric told supercars.com at the time.

“A lot of horsepower, low grip and good brakes. It really rewards the driver when you get it right.

“It’s very hard to compare with other cars I have driven. I guess it is somewhere between a NASCAR and the GT3 car I am racing this year. The V8 Supercar is a big, heavy car and it does roll around quite a lot.”

Coulthard raced the car for the rest of the season, joined at the Enduro Cup races by future Bathurst 1000-winner Luke Youlden.

The car became the team’s spare and ride car for the 2017 season, which meant it was the first car driven by McLaughlin after joining the team.

DJRTP built a new car for McLaughlin’s first season with the squad – the chassis he used to win his maiden Supercars title a year later – but his first laps came aboard DJRTP02 at the team’s pre-season ride day in January 2017.

“It’s hard to get a good read on a car when you’ve got a 100kg dude next to you on a ride day, so today was more about working on ergonomics,” McLaughlin told supercars.com at the time.

“Straight away I felt at home with the car. The boys have done a good job trying to make me comfortable.

“It’s not until we get to the test day that we can really focus on looking at faster driving styles and all of that, but I got a semi-read on it today and I’m surprised that it’s not too different to what I’m used to.”

The car was then converted into a Mustang during the 2018 season ahead of the model’s Supercars Championship debut in 2019, although this car never went on to race in its new configuration.

Dick Johnson aboard DJRTP02 at the 2019 Adelaide 500. Pic: Ford Performance

It did appear at the 2019 Adelaide 500 for the Mustang GT’s debut race but was on hand to do demonstration laps with Dick Johnson on board.

Later in the year, returned to a Shell V-Power Racing Team livery and carrying #66, the car was driven by both Steven Johnson and 2022 Supercars rookie Broc Feeney to test fly-by-wire throttle components.

The car was also piloted by current Dick Johnson Racing driver Will Davison in his first laps upon rejoining the squad at the end of 2020, taking part in a Dunlop tyre test that November.

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.