The Falcon hasn't been part of the Australian marketplace since Ford ended production in October 2016, but the FG X Supercar will race on until the end of 2018 at the least off the back of winning the Blue Oval's first manufacturers' championship since 2009. Will it be replaced by the Mustang, even without official support from Ford Australia? The saga continues, as we explore in issue #100.
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Holden's plans for the Gen2 of Supercars are now confirmed: the new-generation version of the imported Commodore will debut in 2018. Factory-backed team Triple Eight Race Engineering will introduce the new 3.6-litre V6 turbo at selected wildcard events next season before its full introduction in 2019.
As for Holden's great rival Ford, the uncertainty over if and when the Mustang will replace the Falcon drags on amid much speculation and misinformation.
These are the facts:
There won't be a Mustang on the Supercars grid in 2018. A report by James Phelps in the News Limited press said: "Ford will replace the iconic Falcon in next year's Supercars championship with the Mustang." However, the report was wide of the mark and did more damage in getting Ford to agree to the project.
Prodrive Racing Australia had been working on a proposed Mustang and would present the project to Ford Performance in the United States of America and Ford Australia for their review.
The publicity from the incorrect reporting drew the ire of Ford Australia, forcing Prodrive Racing Australia to release a statement to confirm the Mustang wouldn't be developed for 2018.
"This process is ongoing and involves consultation with multiple partners," said the team.
"Prodrive Racing appreciates the significant level of interest in this process from members, fans and the media, but confirmation of its future plans will be made at the appropriate time."
The development of a Mustang Supercars requires the approval of Ford because the manufacturer owns the intellectual property of the Mustang name and body shape.
A Mustang Supercar would also require a change to the current Car of the Future control chassis. Though the Gen2 rules allow for two-door coupes to enter the series, the body panels would need to fit over the control chassis, which is locked in until 2021.
While this has prompted speculation that any potential Ford entrant could instead seek approval to design and homologate a Mondeo or Focus, teams could request the Supercars Commission to approve adjustments to the chassis for the Mustang.
The Falcon FG X will, therefore, be on the grid in 2018. "We are not sure what we will race in the future, but I can confirm we will be racing the Falcon FG X in 2018," Prodrive Racing Australia boss Tim Edwards told Speedcafe.com.
"We are only in the third year of racing this car. We raced the FG for five or six years, so it is not like it is dated and it is still competitive.
"We are not at all concerned and in some ways you could say we are happy. We don't have to distract ourselves and can focus on making this car go faster and faster."
What happens for 2019 and beyond, though, remains to be seen. Current Ford teams DJR Team Penske and Prodrive Racing Australia both have strong ties to the Mustang that would justify a Supercars presence.
DJR Team Penske's owners, Team Penske, have a link with Ford headquarters and Ford Performance through their NASCAR program. Team Penske runs a Mustang in NASCAR's second-tier Xfinity Series. Roger Penske has championed the Mustang in Supercars cause in America.
Prodrive Racing Australia launched its Tickford road-car arm in late 2016. Tickford provides aftermarket parts packages for Ford cars, including for the V8-powered GT and EcoBoost Mustangs (pictured).
The speculation over the Mustang follows the recent launch of a GT4 version of the model. The possibility of the Mustang racing in the Australian GT Championship led Triple Eight team boss Roland Dane to question whether the Mustang is an appropriate fit for Supercars, given the likely confusion of the same cars racing in Supercars and GTs.
While the Mustang has been a popular addition to the Australian marketplace as a replacement for the Falcon in the performance sector, its reputation took a hit with a two-star ANCAP safety rating.
DJR Team Penske and Prodrive Racing Australia are continuing to work towards a Mustang Supercar.
With a five-litre V8 version Mustang on the roads, Ford and the Mustang's heritage in Australian touring cars and the current Ford teams' ties to the manufacturer and car, a Supercars program makes a lot of sense.
Both teams worked closely in the homologation of the FG X Falcon and maintain links that would continue on the Mustang.
"Everything is an option for 2019 and if we are both racing Ford products then there is the likelihood we will work together to develop it," said Edwards.
"That is pretty much the way homologations have worked in the past. We took more of a lead role with the FG X but Penske still contributed financially to that."
The Mustang won five Australian Touring Car Championships in a row from 1965 to 1969 under the Improved Production regulations and reappeared under the Group A rules in the mid-eighties with less success.
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