A new model Falcon, a new set of regulations and a bolstered squad, is set to give Ford a strong chance of success on the racetrack in 2003.
Ford Racing Australia’s V8 Supercar line-up was unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show ahead of this weekend’s non-championship Australian Formula One Grand Prix support event.
Ford will field 11 all new BA model Ford Falcon V8 Supercars at that event.
For over two years engineers at Ford have been working behind the scenes to make sure the transition of the multi-award winning BA Falcon to the race track is as smooth as possible.
For the first time in nearly 30 years the Ford Motor Company of Australia designed and built a racecar in-house. The aim with this car was not to actually race it, but constantly refine it and provide the vital technical information to its race teams for success in 2003 and beyond.
Ford has worked closely with its teams over the past two years as part of the drawing up of the all-important new set of guidelines known as ‘Project Blueprint’ for the V8 Supercar Series.
The aim of ‘Project Blueprint’ is to further provide the most competitive motor sports championship anywhere in the world.
The real difference in 2003 will come down to the teams and drivers, with Ford putting together its strongest line-up ever in Australian Touring Car history.
One of the major changes is the establishment of the Ford Performance Racing (FPR) team as part of the Prodrive run and operated Ford Performance Vehicles; the same company behind the new GT road range of vehicles.
FPR joins an already strong line-up that includes Stone Brothers Racing, Dick Johnson Racing, Brad Jones Racing, Briggs Motorsport, Larkham Motorsport, 00 Motorsport and Steve Ellery Racing.
While maintaining the star-base of drivers from previous years, Ford has added force with Bathurst champions and V8 Supercar front runners Russell Ingall (Caltex Havoline Racing) and Jason Bargwanna (Orrcon Steel Racing).
“This is set to be one of the most exciting and from a Ford point of view we believe one of the most successful V8 Supercar campaigns in many years,” said Manager of Ford Racing Australia – Stephen Kruk.
“It’s not been since 1997 when Glenn Seton won the V8 Supercar Series and following year when Stone Brothers Racing won Bathurst that we have really tasted success in this category of racing.
“Everyone from Ford management through the teams, drivers, sponsors and most importantly the fans, are all determined to make 2003 a strong year for the Blue Oval.
“We fully understand just how tough this championship is, but we don’t expect any runaway winners as there’s been in the past and it will be a fight all the way in 2003.
“If there’s one area where our teams are better off in 2003 it’s the knowledge of the racecar. Ford’s investment in giving them the right tool will be of great benefit, and all Falcon teams will hit the track running.”
Mr Kruk also welcomed Formula One drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman to the Ford family ahead of their debut with Ford-Cosworth power at this weekend’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park.
“It’s the company’s 100th anniversary in 2003, and Ford will be involved in all major racing categories around the world,” said Mr Kruk.
“Here today we have the elite level in touring cars with our own V8 Supercar Series and Ford’s commitment to Formula One with Jordan.
“The Ford Motor Company of Australia is enjoying a resurgence with the BA model Falcon and this weekend we’ll see 11 of them on the track for the first time. Together with the teams we’re really looking forward to a strong season.”
The 2003 V8 Supercar Series features 13 rounds across Australia and New Zealand, as well as the non-championship support races at this weekend’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
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