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HomeNewsFord boss moots NASCAR as Gen3 alternative

Ford boss moots NASCAR as Gen3 alternative

FORD Performance boss Mark Rushbrook has floated the possibility of Supercars adopting NASCAR machinery, if it is unable to achieve technical parity with its Gen3 cars.

Rushbrook is at the Thrifty Bathurst 500 overseeing the Blue Oval’s Supercars commitment and the presence of the record-breaking electric Ford SuperVan.

The 2024 season-opener follows an off-season in which Supercars invested heavily in a wind tunnel program to achieve aerodynamic parity between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.

Parity efforts have now switched to engines, with Ford debuting upgrades to its 5.4-litre Coyote at Bathurst following a takeover of its engine program by Dick Johnson Racing.

MORE: Whincup wants end to Ford engine saga

They have been homologated through Supercars’ existing Accumulated Engine Power measurement, ahead of more sophisticated transient dyno testing taking place at a yet-to-be specified date.

The Supercars field at Bathurst. Pic: Nathan Wong

Weighing in on the current state of play, Rushbrook told media at Bathurst that Ford is encouraged by Supercars’ parity efforts.

“We knew that aero wasn’t sufficient and it’s great that Supercars has embraced that now and gone to Windshear…  and we believe we have got a good outcome there,” he said.

“We’ve said from day one, from years ago, that AEP, using the dyno that’s available here is not sufficient, especially when you get to two different engines; different displacement, different architecture, the transient response is going to be different.

“Even with the improvements that have been made to the engine, it’s still registering the same AEP, but it’s racing differently.

“The ultimate goal is a proper transient dyno, which now there is a commitment that that testing will happen so we can characterise the two different engines.

“I expect we will see differences there that we do not see on the dyno here, but then we have got to be prepared to make those changes there and bring it back onto the racetrack.”

Mostert and Stanaway led the Ford horde in Race 1. Pic: Nathan Wong

Asked if it’s possible for Supercars to achieve its aim of technical parity when dealing with two fundamentally different engines, Rushbrook added: “We’ll find out.

“It’s the only series that does it. You look at NASCAR, its technical rules, you build to it, you go race.

“There’s no parity other than the rules saying this is the displacement you need, this is the bore spacing, so there is parity by rules and then you play within those rules and there are power differences and that’s the nature of NASCAR.

“All the sportscar racing series in the world are using BoP (Balance of Performance) and that’s very different than technical parity.

“It’s a unique situation this series has and it’s great in many ways to have technical parity but it puts the emphasis on the people and the processes of the series to be able to deliver on technical parity.”

Ford has this year unleashed a GT3 version of its Mustang, which will likely tackle the Bathurst 12 Hour next February.

When asked whether he thinks GT3 should take over from Gen3 as the Supercars ruleset, Rushbrook also mooted the NASCAR as an option.

“I think it’s too early to tell,” he said of Supercars switching to GT3.

“I think GT3 is a fantastic category that is working very well in IMSA and WEC and SRO and everywhere around the world and it’s great that we can design, build and develop one car and sell it in all those different markets and series.

“There’s something very unique about Supercars in the fact, what these cars are, it’s different to GT3. If we can get to true technical parity, why not continue with this? If we can’t, maybe GT3 is a good option.

“Or maybe the NASCAR. It’s there, why not? If you think about the number… if you were to actually compare the cost to build a Supercar versus a NASCAR…

“If you think about it, right, how many Gen3 Supercars have been built? How many NASCAR Cup Cars have been built? 

“Any point in time, any car number has seven chassis and there’s 40 cars, times seven. That’s a lot more. So just the (economies of scale).”

Although Rushbrook has been critical of Supercars’ parity processes, the American stressed an overall positive viewpoint on the Australian championship.

“We’re positive about all of our programs, including Supercars,” he said.

“It’s not that we’re here to complain, we’re here to make the category better and align with what we see in different parts of the world, whether it’s with FIA or IMSA and everything else we run.

“What we’re seeing at this point in time is that it is being embraced by Supercars, by the leadership.

“So when I make comments about processes not being perfect, it’s not to complain, it’s to truly make them better and elevate what this category is capable of.

“There’s a lot of great drivers, a lot of great teams, great engineers, and we’re happy to be here and we love the fans that are here. It’s great for them to see what Ford is committed to.”

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