SLADE’S MUSTANG SET TO BREAK RACE START RECORD

Tim Slade's Ford Mustang GT will break a Supercars record for championship race starts at Symmons Plains. Pic: Nathan Wong

TIM Slade is set to make Repco Supercars Championship history at Symmons Plains this weekend.

Or rather, his car is.

The Blanchard Racing Team’s #3 Ford Mustang GT will become just the fourth chassis in ATCC/Supercars history to make its 150th championship race start when it lines up for the opening race of the Tasmania SuperSprint.

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If Slade starts all three of the weekend’s races, chassis PRA 1520 will become the most raced car in championship history with 152 race starts, edging past the current record of 151.

Slade’s Mustang is the 20th Supercar built by Tickford Racing, with work beginning on the chassis in 2015 when the team was still called Prodrive Racing Australia.

Completed in May 2016, it made its first race start as a Ford Falcon FG X in Mark Winterbottom’s hands at Hidden Valley, carrying the reigning champion’s #1 and the distinctive green and black colours of The Bottle-O.

Mark Winterbottom was the championship leader when he debuted PRA 1520 at Hidden Valley in 2016. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

It’s also the car in which Winterbottom collected his most recent victory, winning the third sprint of the Pukekohe weekend after a lightning start from the second row thrust him into the lead by the second corner of the race.

He ended the season as the best-placed Ford in the standings, albeit down in sixth place almost 900 points behind new champion Shane van Gisbergen.

Cam Waters took the reins of this chassis in 2017 and enjoyed a breakout season, taking an emphatic maiden career Supercars win at the Sandown 500 with Richie Stanaway, while the pair were in with a shot of repeating the dose at Bathurst before a late tangle with teammate Chaz Mostert.

Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway won the 2017 Sandown 500 in PRA 1520. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Tickford sold the car at the end of the season to Phil Munday’s new 23Red Racing squad for its championship debut with Will Davison in 2018.

Davison drove the car in Falcon trim throughout his first season with the squad and remained in the same chassis into the 2019 season, albeit upgraded by Tickford to Mustang GT panelwork.

Munday had also elected to have the chassis prepared and run by Tickford in 2019 after a season as a standalone effort, and Davison came close to snagging breakthrough wins at Queensland Raceway and The Bend.

Will Davison in PRA 1520 led Scott McLaughlin in the early stages of the Sunday race at The Bend in 2019 before being briefly delayed by an airbox fire in pit lane. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

PRA 1520 continued into the 2020 season with Davison and 23Red and they left the season-opening Adelaide 500 sitting tied for fourth in the championship standings, but the subsequent onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led Munday to shutter his squad, putting Davison out of a drive.

However, PRA 1520 was on the grid when racing finally resumed four months later with Boost Mobile backing putting James Courtney into the car for the remainder of the season.

Highlights included a second-place finish at Hidden Valley and second-row starts at both the Darwin and Townsville events, while Broc Feeney made his first championship race start alongside Courtney at the season-ending Bathurst 1000.

Last year saw PRA 1520 move to yet another start-up Supercars team, this time becoming the lead car for the Blanchard Racing Team.

Tim Slade took the reins of PRA 1520 in 2021 when it was campaigned by the Blanchard Racing Team. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

However, its sixth season of racing got underway to a bruising start: Slade put the car on the front row for the fifth time in its history for the Saturday race of the Mount Panorama 500 but crashed heavily at Forrest’s Elbow while running fourth in the closing stages.

The team used a different chassis for the next few rounds while PRA 1520 was repaired, the time on the sidelines delaying its milestone 150th race start – and its record-breaking 152nd – until 2022.

This weekend will also only be the car’s fourth appearance at Symmons Plains, having debuted after the 2016 event was held, missed 2020 through the round’s cancellation as well as last year’s event following its Bathurst crash.

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.