STORY: WILL DALE
IMAGES: AN1 MEDIA, SUPPLIED
THOMAS Randle’s Supercars Championship debut will add another chapter to the life of a car that has already played a key role in the careers of several star drivers.
Randle will pilot a wildcard Tickford Racing entry at next month’s OTR SuperSprint at The Bend Motorsport Park, the recent Dunlop Super2 Series race winner driving 23Red Racing’s spare chassis.
A race and pole-winner in Supercars and a race-winner in Super2, the chassis has been the vehicle used by several big name drivers for career firsts.
David Reynolds drove the car to his first Supercars race win, Cameron Waters made his first solo Supercars start in it, while Simona De Silvestro, Renee Gracie, Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway all made their first Supercars Championship race starts aboard the car.
The chassis started life as an FG Falcon built by Tickford Racing – then known as Ford Performance Racing – in 2012.
It was actually the first full-spec Car of the Future to hit the racetrack, and was the car demonstrated alongside the new generation Holden Commodore and Nissan Altima at the Sydney Telstra 500 at the end of that year.
The chassis became Reynolds’ car for 2013, claiming his first championship race win at the Gold Coast 600 co-driving with Dean Canto.
Pictures of this car and every other Ford that competed in the Bathurst 1000 can be found in our limited edition book Ford At Bathurst, The Cars: 1963-2018, the ultimate photographic history of the ‘blue oval’ at the Mount Panorama enduro.
It spent most of 2014 as the team’s spare before making its first wildcard appearance, serving as the Super Black Racing entry for Ant Pedersen and Andre Heimgartner at the Bathurst 1000.
The car returned to The Great Race the following year once again as a wildcard, this time in Ford Falcon FG X trim, but under a much brighter spotlight: the chassis was the one used by the Harvey Norman Supergirls entry, giving Simona De Silvestro and Renee Gracie highly-publicised Supercars debuts.
Although the Supergirls effort was a one-off for Bathurst, Tickford pressed the car back into service for the rest of the season to replace the FG X destroyed by Chaz Mostert’s qualifying crash at Mount Panorama.
It rolled out at the Gold Coast 600 carrying a special ‘Back to the Future’ Pepsi Max livery for drivers Waters and Russell Ingall, the ‘Enforcer’ making his only starts as a driver for Ford’s factory-backed team in place of the injured Mostert.
The car moved across to the team’s Super2 Series program for 2016 – but not for long.
Garry Jacobson drove the car in Adelaide to his first Super2 race and round victory, laying the foundation for his title-winning season, before the car was recalled to the main game after Super Black Racing driver Chris Pither’s nasty crash at Turn 8.
The car became the Super Black car for the remainder of the season, Pither claiming an ARMOR ALL Pole Position in the car at Queensland Raceway and being joined by Stanaway at the enduros for his Supercars debut.
Jason Bright drove the car for much of the early part of 2017 under the Mega Racing banner before it again reverted to being Tickford’s spare, Stanaway making a cameo appearance aboard it at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Super2 round where he claimed victory in the final race of the weekend.
The car’s last race appearance, coincidentally, came in Randle’s hands – although it didn’t leave him with fond memories.
Randle drove the car at Adelaide last year in his Super2 Series debut, but a power steering failure during the opening race caused him to crash heavily at Turn 8.
23Red Racing purchased the repaired car in the middle of last year, using it as a spare car and wheeling it out at ride days.
Its last public appearance as a Falcon came at Bathurst last year where it served as the Supercar in the Ford Performance speed comparison, before being upgraded to Ford Mustang GT panelwork for 2019.
The conversion means it will become the only Ford Supercars chassis to race in FG Falcon, FG X Falcon and Mustang GT guises.
Randle will test the car at Winton next weekwhere its sponsor and livery will be revealed, ahead of his Supercars Championship debut at the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend on August 23-25.