It’s official: Ford Australia has confirmed it will exit the V8 Supercars Championship at the end of the 2015 championship season.
The Blue Oval’s swansong season in the Australian touring car landscape will also see it provide reduced commercial support to its Ford Performance Racing factory squad ahead of a complete commercial pull-out at the end of the 2015 campaign.
The carmaker issued a memo to all stakeholders confirming its exit today, conforming an indefinite withdrawal at the end of 2015 ahead of a complete shutdown of its Australian production centres by no later than October 2016. As part of its shutdown, production of the locally-built Falcon model will cease. Ford launched a ‘farewell spec’ FG X Falcon model, which the FPR and DJR Team Penske outfits will use to race in 2015.
The announcement comes despite intense negotiations between it and Ford Performance Racing, which delivered an emotional – and ultimately forlorn – victory at this year’s Bathurst 1000, where Chaz Mostert and co-driver Paul Morris won after starting from last place.
Ford has steadily wound down its commercial support in the V8 Supercars Championship; Dick Johnson Racing was dropped and survived in a privateer model, while Stone Brothers Racing was bought out by Erebus Motorsport. Ford Performance Racing is the sole factory outfit.
Ford has been a mainstay in the Australian touring car landscape, winning 23 drivers’ championship titles and 19 Bathurst 1000 victories, with back-to-back wins on ‘The Mountain’ for FPR.
While Ford Australia is yet to release a media statement, its leading factory team was quick to respond, indicating that it would look to campaign the FG X without commercial support from the carmaker.
“Ford Australia’s decision to not extend its commercial relationship with our team beyond the end of next season is extremely disappointing for our large and loyal fan base, but as a business this decision now allows us to concentrate on our long-term future,” FPR team principal Tim Edwards said.
“We have enjoyed a highly-successful relationship with Ford Australia with just shy of 50 race wins, 150 podiums and the last two Bathurst 1000 crowns together.
“This on track success, along with the engineering and commercial strength that underpins our racing activities, provides us with a very viable business and a strong platform for our future in the sport.
“We will run the new FG X Falcon next season as planned with support from Ford, and we’ll possibly campaign the car in 2016 ahead of the major regulation changes coming from 2017.
“Now that we know where we stand we can further develop other opportunities. We have a range of options, some existing and some that were awaiting this decision, so we can now begin to explore these further.
“Whatever happens, I know our loyal fans will support our team whatever direction we take.”
Image via Christian Hartung