CAMPBELLFIELD, Victoria, Australia — official release — V8SC photo —
Ford Performance Racing could field a mixture of FG X and existing FG II Falcon V8 Supercars at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide 2015 championship opener.
With category aerodynamic testing due in January and the Clipsal in late February, team principal Tim Edwards has conceded Ford’s official homologation team faces a difficult task getting all four cars run out of its Campbellfield shop converted to FG X specifications in time for the race.
The minimum guarantee is that the two Pepsi Max Falcons of Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert will front Clipsal as FG Xs, but the customer cars might have to wait until the second championship event – or later – to make the transition.
“Car five and car six will be FG X at Clipsal and if there is a big tailwind – more,” Edwards said to V8 Supercars on Wednesday. “It might just look like it is a bit of facelift on the outside but once you start digging into it there is actually quite a lot of work involved.”
The FG X road car is a cosmetic makeover of the FG and is the last locally-developed and built Falcon. The Broadmeadows plant that builds it will be shut down no later than October 2016, also ending production of the Territory SUV.
The conversion of the FG II V8 Supercar to FG X specification does not require a redesign of the ‘New Generation’ chassis introduced in 2013, but new exterior panels and aerodynamic appendages have to be developed.
The manufacturing of these parts can’t start until aerodynamic parity testing is completed and the FG X design approved.
“We can’t do anything until mid-December and that’s when we will start manufacturing parts for the cars,” said Edwards. “The chassis themselves don’t change, it’s everything that bolts on to the outside. It is relatively straight forward but there is still a lot of work involved in it.”
Edwards said there was no rules drama fronting at the Clipsal with a mix of FG X and FG V8 Supercars, but he said problems would arise if the team attempted to swap a car back from FG X to FG.
“Once you change – say car five is an FG X in Adelaide – you couldn’t then go ‘I think the aero balance on the FG is better’ and swap back to FG for Perth. Once you have changed there is no going back. But both models can run at the same time.”
FPR could be supplying up to three customer cars with FG X parts; Rod Nash Racing and Charlie Schwerkolt’s entry are both currently run out of Campbellfield, while the rookie New Zealand-backed Super Black Racing Team raced at Bathurst in a Falcon and crew provided by FPR.
FPR also has a technical relationship with Dick Johnson Racing. That operation transforms into DJR Team Penske from January 1 and it intends to have two new FG Xs on the grid at Clipsal for Marcos Ambrose and a yet-to-be-confirmed teammate.
But given the challenges facing Charlie Schwerkolt’s continued entry and the arrival of Super Black Racing still yet to be formally confirmed, FPR doesn’t know exactly how many parts will have to be manufactured for the season start.
“There is no requirement to have them all changed for Adelaide,” added Edwards. “If manufacturing hadn’t allowed for you to have 30 front bumpers made, for instance, then you might make the decision we will have two in FG X and two in FG. Then at the next race the other ones will turn into FG Xs.”
Edwards also confirmed that DJR Team Penske technical boss Nick Hughes had been to FPR’s headquarters before the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 to be briefed on the FG X design and development program.
“We just needed to make sure they are up to speed so they understand what the change is,” Edwards explained. “It’s not just the surface thing, it’s the way you mount it, the way the headlights integrate, the way the radiator support panel is.”
“They all form part of a new model and you can give someone images and say that is what it is going to look like. But you need to understand the whole package a bit more. So he spent the whole day with us and we have enlightened him.”