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Gen3 repairability questioned after ‘crash test’

SUPERCARS will analyse the wreckage of James Courtney’s Shootout crash in Newcastle to determine whether changes need to be made to improve the strength of the Gen3 chassis.

Courtney was forced to sit out Sunday’s 250km leg of the Newcastle event as damage from a head-on hit with the Turn 7 tyre wall could not be fixed in time to take the start.

It was the first major incident for the Gen3 platform, which features removable front and rear chassis clips intended to help ease the speed of repairs.

Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards explained shortly before race start that his crew could not get the replacement front clip to fit properly on the chassis.

James Courtney’s crashed Mustang. Pic: Ross Gibb

“Whether there’s something else bent deeper into the chassis we don’t know. We just couldn’t get it on,” Edwards told V8 Sleuth.

“We can’t get the engine bolts lined up and things like that, they had a hell of a time, the steering rack won’t line up on it.

“Obviously we haven’t pre-fitted these new front clips, literally we took delivery of that (Saturday) from Pace (Innovations), so we haven’t had the chance to paint or pre-fit or anything like that.

“If we had another couple of hours we might be able to pull the engine out, dig deeper into the car… we pulled the clip off but the engine is still bolted to the firewall of the car, so that restricts your ability to check everything along the firewall with the chassis mounts.”

The failed repair effort raises the question of whether the Gen3 design has achieved its aim of improved repairability.

Edwards affirmed that the mangled front clip from the Snowy River Caravans backed entry will help the category find out.

James Courtney’s #5 Mustang.

“The ability to bolt things on would appear easier (than Gen2) but it didn’t appear to be that big an accident and it’s obviously done a huge amount of damage, a lot of parts,” he said.

“If it hasn’t transferred any of the load to the rest of the chassis, that’s a positive that you’re now able to unbolt that front section, but on the surface you’d say that the car is weaker than it was before, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.

“Last year you mightn’t have done any chassis damage even though you couldn’t replace it because it was all one assembly. You can replace it now but obviously it’s not as robust.

“Anyway, we need to have more accidents to really have a firm opinion on that.

“Supercars have taken away that front clip, we gave it to them so they can analyse it and see where the material failed and where it tore.

“Unfortunately, you need to crash the things to understand exactly what the mode of failures will be. No different to the Car of the Future.

A bare Gen3 chassis shown off in May 2021. Pic: Supplied

“As they evolved, wall thicknesses changed on tubes and things like that, but you’re sort of flying a bit blind, you don’t necessarily design a car to be crashed, so until you start crashing them you don’t know what the mode of failure is going to be.

“Ultimately, we didn’t design it, so it’s for the category to determine if it needs to be redesigned. It may not, but they need to determine whether it needs different wall thicknesses or whatever.

“They’ll analyse it, there’s a whole host of things they’ve got photos of to analyse.

“Unfortunately, you have to have some crash test dummies to find these things out. I’d prefer if we weren’t the first crash test dummy…”

Courtney’s accident was just part of a fraught Sunday for Tickford, as rookie teammate Declan Fraser crashed just seconds into the race after a tangle off the start.

Cam Waters and Thomas Randle finished 12th and 18th; the former damaged the steering of his Monster Mustang while fighting for the lead with Chaz Mostert mid-race.

PODCAST: All the fallout from the Newcastle 500

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