Mus­cle News

Bruce New­ton ex­plains why the 2019 Su­per­cars Ford Mus­tang racer looks the way it does – and how it’s been de­signed to match the ZB Holden Com­modore racer.

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents - Story: Bruce New­ton

Why the Mus­tang Su­per­car looks like it does, and why it won’t be joined on track by the Ca­maro.

By the time you read this the Mus­tang should be signed off as Ford’s new weapon in Su­per­cars rac­ing. Since the last is­sue of Aus­tralian

Mus­cle Car went on-sale, the rst Mus­tang pro­to­type has been com­pleted at DJR Team Penske’s Stapyl­ton head­quar­ters in south-east Queens­land, had a shake­down at Queens­land Race­way, tested for a full day at Phillip Is­land in Vic­to­ria, done three-days straight-line run­ning at Temora air eld in south­ern NSW, re­turned to Stapyl­ton and then been trucked back to Temora for ‘VCAT’ aero tech­ni­cal par­ity test­ing against the Com­modore ZB and Nis­san Al­tima.

Phew, that’s a hec­tic sched­ule. Now con­sider that while most of that was go­ing on DJRTP was in the midst of gru­elling, en­thralling bat­tle for the Su­per­cars driver’s cham­pi­onship. Of course, Scott McLaugh­lin won that bat­tle against Red Bull HRT’s Shane van Gis­ber­gen, claim­ing the Ford Fal­con’s 17th and nal cham­pi­onship (see

sep­a­rate story) be­fore re­place­ment by Mus­tang. Dou­ble phew! Maybe even triple phew, con­sid­er­ing DJRTP de­feated om­nipresent fron­trun­ner Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing to take the ti­tle!

“We went through a fairly reg­i­mented test­ing pe­riod over a short pe­riod of time and we have come to have a great – even com­pre­hen­sive – un­der­stand­ing of the car and the tun­ing tools we have avail­able to us to en­sure when we ar­rive at VCAT we can have the car reach the aero down­force and drag num­bers that Su­per­cars pre­scribe,” DJRTP man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ryan Story told AMC be­fore of­fi­cial test­ing be­gan.

At VCAT (V8 Su­per­cars Aero­dy­namic Test­ing) there were a bunch of tests the Mus­tang was sched­uled to go through de­signed to equalise its down­force and drag with the other cars. To achieve that, DJRTP took with it a se­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent front split­ters and rear wings to nd the ap­pro­pri­ate com­bi­na­tion. The key stat com­monly cited at these tests is the aim of achiev­ing 310kg of down­force across the front and rear axle at 200km/h. That’s not a lot when you re­alise an F1 car gen­er­ates more than 3000kg, al­beit at 340km/h!

And there­fore it does show that aero­dy­nam­ics – de­spite all the fo­cus on the Mus­tang’s big rear wing end­plates – is not the be-all and end-all of mak­ing a fast Su­per­car. It’s im­por­tant no doubt, but so is cen­tre of grav­ity, en­gine per­for­mance and sus­pen­sion de­sign and tun­ing.

Given Su­per­cars tech­ni­cal rules aim for par­ity among the dif­fer­ent brands of cars based on us­ing the same Gen2 con­trol chas­sis, iden­ti­cal wheel­base and track, sus­pen­sion de­sign, brakes and a con­trol bas­ket of other items like shocks, the idea is not for Mus­tang to be a Com­modore killer. If Su­per­cars does its job right it will be com­pet­i­tive with the Holden, not dom­i­nate it.

What the Mus­tang is meant to be is a bet­ter car than the aged Fal­con FG/X, which was evolved by Tick­ford Rac­ing from the FG. Story says the Fal­con man­aged the com­pet­i­tive­ness to win the cham­pi­onship in 2018 pri­mar­ily be­cause dra­matic changes were made dur­ing the sea­son to lighter com­pos­ite pan­els in-line with the new Com­modore... oh and McLaugh­lin drove the wheels off the thing!

Even then, Story says, FG/X could not match the low drag num­bers of the ZB at high speeds where the Holden’s sleek shape came into its own. And we’re not just talk­ing about straights here. High-speed mid-cor­ner yaw is just as im­por­tant and that’s an area where no tech­ni­cal par­ity test­ing is con­ducted. That’s why DJRTP trecked all the way to Phillip Is­land to blast the Mus­tang through some of the fastest cor­ners in Aus­tralian rac­ing.

“Mus­tang’s been de­signed to be an evo­lu­tion­ary im­prove­ment on the FG/X and hope­fully we’d like to bridge the gap on the drag num­ber in par­tic­u­lar, be­cause we felt that was an area that was par­tic­u­larly strong on the Com­modore,” con rmed Story.

“Look, we won a cham­pi­onship in 2018; we are only look­ing for very small in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments in ef­fi­cien­cies in the car that we are rac­ing in or­der to be more com­pet­i­tive in or­der to have both cars right up the front where we want them to be.”

AMC un­der­stands the test­ing process has gone pretty well for Mus­tang. There were some is­sues at the shake­down, in­clud­ing a front bar (or split­ter) that proved too frag­ile.

“With any new car you have some teething is­sues early on,” con rmed Story. “We had a cou­ple, par­tic­u­larly with the man­u­fac­ture of the front bar. For­tu­nately, it was some­thing identi ed very early in the day and with a ro­bust re­pair we were able to not lose too much on-track run­ning. It was some­thing that was com­pletely ad­dressed by the time we got to Phillip Is­land, which was great.”

Speak­ing of ad­dress­ing is­sues, un­doubt­edly the big­gest con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the Mus­tang has been the racer’s bloated looks com­pared to the road car. Adapt­ing to the con­trol chas­sis re­quired the body to have a slightly raised roo ine, a longer wheel­base and a nar­rower body. The feed­back from so­cial me­dia and from other quar­ters has been over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive.

“I think we have a very pas­sion­ate fan base and there is a huge amount of ex­cite­ment about Mus­tang re­turn­ing to Su­per­cars,” Story de­fends. “With that comes ex­pec­ta­tion of it be­ing the hero car that ev­ery­one in­tends.

“We have had to make a cou­ple of com­pro­mises as a con­se­quence of the con­trol chas­sis, but let me tell you this thing in Shell V-Power colours looks the goods. It’s got the grille, it’s got the head­lights, it’s got the bul­bous rear of the [road] car, it’s got the same sil­hou­ette shape of the glasshouse that the road car has.

“It has more in com­mon than not with the road car.

Story ar­gued that the test car’s liv­ery was “clumsy” be­cause it ex­ac­er­bated the dif­fer­ences in shape through the ap­pli­ca­tion of things like the wind­screen strip. He also ar­gued ap­ply­ing the liv­ery un­der uores­cent light in the work­shop dis­guised the is­sue.

“That sort of at­ten­tion to de­tail stuff may have been missed, but the de­tail when it came to con­struct­ing and as­sem­bling the car wasn’t missed at all,” he de­clared.

We’re sure, if that hard work trans­lates to a win­ner, many Ford fans will be quick to for­give. We’ll nd out at the Ade­laide 500 in March 2019 when six Mus­tangs are ex­pected to de­but.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.