The Supercars paddock was excited as the new Ford Aero package debuted in Townsville. Hopes were high among the Ford teams that the revised aerodynamics would address concerns over rear aero balance and improve back tire life.
However, as the first two practice sessions unfolded, it became apparent that the new package had failed to meet expectations, leaving several Ford teams dissatisfied. Feedback from drivers and team personnel expressed varying degrees of disappointment.
Some felt that the package had made no discernible difference, while others lamented that the drivability of the cars had worsened compared to the previous setup. In practice 1, only two Ford drivers secured spots in the top 10, with an additional driver joining them in practice 2.
Cam Waters emerged as the sole Ford driver to crack the top three among them. To address these concerns, both Tickford and Ford homologation team Dick Johnson Racing had reportedly experimented with extensions to the rear wing to increase its width.
However, despite Supercars' initial press release indicating a change in the wing's width, it ultimately remained unaltered. This suggested that the decision to stick with the original width was made following DJR's back-to-back test at Queensland Raceway, leaving potential solutions unexplored in Townsville.
Crucial Meeting Held to Address Aero Concerns
With the next session qualifying for race 1, the opportunity to test out theories and find resolutions to the aero issues seemed elusive. However, the gravity of the situation was not lost on the key stakeholders.
After practice 2, a meeting took place between Supercars CEO Shane Howard, Head of Motorsport Adrian Burgess, Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw, WAU team principal Bruce Stewart, Tickford co-owner Rod Nash, and Tickford CEO Tim Edwards.
The gathering indicated a collective determination to address the concerns and seek remedies. While adopting a diplomatic stance, Cam Waters hinted at underlying setup issues that had previously been masked. He acknowledged the shock of finding himself in 20th place during practice 1, despite expectations of increased downforce.
Waters revealed that the Fords had been grappling with braking and cornering difficulties, and the previous setups had aimed to mitigate these challenges. With the new package, they were readjusting their approach and undoing prior workarounds.
The actual test of the Mustang and the Camaro's competitiveness will unfold in tomorrow afternoon's opening 250-kilometer race at the Reid Park circuit. This race will provide a clearer picture of how the teams have adapted to the new aero package and the resulting impact on performance.
Until then, the Ford teams remain discontented, grappling with the need to unravel the complexities of the revised aerodynamics before they can regain their competitive edge on the track.