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Unlocked: Ford Supercars engine’s step forward

FORD’S Gen3 Supercars engine has taken another step forward in encouraging signs observed by Dick Johnson Racing team principal Ryan Story.

DJR took the lead on the Blue Oval power unit program after buying out Herrod Performance Engines in the off-season, setting up a Motorsport Powertrains division separate to the Stapylton squad’s race team.

Hardware changes have now been complemented by pre-Taupō software/mapping tweaks to unlock further performance, and the Mustangs seem to have responded well this weekend.

Following stalwart Bobby Ervin’s resignation, the Motorsport Powertrains quartet operating under Story’s watch are Frank Evans, Kaz Penwarden, Scott Wilkinson and Brent Blakey.

“It’s safe to say that the progress that’s culminated into where we are now with the engine program, it has taken a significant investment of time, energy and personnel and there’s no question that that’s had an impact on our ability and capacity to go racing in some respects,” Story told V8 Sleuth.

Ford conducted engine testing via Thomas Randle’s Mustang at Winton, on the same day that Brodie Kostecki hopped back in the car

“But we’re very fortunate to have four dedicated technicians and engineers that are separate to the DJR organisation working at the engine shop and those folks are doing a tremendous job.

“They have been supported by our engineers and our production facilities out of DJR as we’ve made changes and progress with the package overall as a whole.

“We’ve been very appreciative of the support we’ve received from the other Ford teams because we all have the same ultimate goal, and it’s to be competitive enough to see Fords in contention for race wins week in, week out.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re continuing to chip away at it.

“It’s also worthwhile acknowledging the efforts of Supercars throughout this process as well. They want the same thing that all of us do, which is a level playing field and the best driver and the best team on the day winning races, and it’s a real tribute to their professionalism and certainly commitment to achieving parity as we go forward.

Will Davison is congratulated by Ryan Story. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh

“It’s been an enormous amount of effort and the job is not done yet.”

Taupō has also marked a return to form for DJR itself, with Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale delivering a double podium on Saturday.

That came even after a stroke of misfortune, with rain halfway through the Top 10 Shootout likely costing both drivers a stack of positions on the starting grid.

The performance is in stark contrast to the first two rounds where it was blitzed by fellow Ford squads Grove Racing, Walkinshaw Andretti United and Tickford Racing.

DJR rose from 10th to sixth in the teams’ championship yesterday.

Will Davison, Andre Heimgartner and Anton De Pasquale on the podium. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh

“It’s very encouraging and a fantastic team result to have both cars on the podium, and straight cars too – especially after a race like the one you saw,” said Story.

“It’s something that’s a tribute to the effort by the drivers and the effort by everyone in the team.

“To have decent car pace in the dry (on Friday) and some solid pace in the wet is very encouraging.”

Sunday’s Supercars action at the ITM Taupō Super400 kicks off with qualifying from 8:45am AEST (10:45am local).

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