FOR fans of the blue oval and their part in the historic battle of red versus blue, Holden versus Ford – the dream is over, with Ford Australia officially announcing this afternoon that they will not continue participating in the V8 Supercar Championship after next year.
Ford will continue to support the only two teams that still run its product, Ford Performance Racing and Team Penske DJR next season, with both teams campaigning the brand new FG-X model, but beyond the end of next year, all bets are off as the marquee ends its racing association with the sport.
In an official statement, leading V8 Supercars team Prodrive Racing (Australia) has advised the media it has been informed by Ford Australia that from 2016 the car manufacturer will no longer support the team and its racing program.
Prodrive Racing (Australia) (PRA) has raced under the guise of Ford Performance Racing since the team’s inception in 2003, acting as Ford Australia’s primary manufacturer team throughout this period.
“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,” PRA CEO 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.”
Edwards said the team would throw itself into campaigning the new Falcon next year, and would even consider running the car in 2016 (without manufacturer support as a privateer), ahead of major regulation changes expected to come into effect in V8 Supercars in 2017 (changes that could include the introduction of two door vehicles and more significantly, engines other than V8s).
“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,” Edwards said. “Whatever happens, I know our loyal fans will support our team whatever direction we take.”
Team owner Rod Nash said he and co-owner Rusty French bought the team knowing they had a strong and diverse business, and the decision by Ford to exit the series would not change that, nor would it weaken the team’s viability.
“Our team of people have been working tirelessly, with support from V8 Supercars, to ensure a blue presence in our sport so while we don’t agree with today’s decision, we have no choice but to accept it,” Nash said. “While I sympathise with the legions of Ford fans, they are also fans of our team and our drivers, so whatever direction we take we firmly believe that support will continue.”
The team will look to add to its Bathurst triumph and win tally this weekend at the season-ending Sydney 500 at Sydney Olympic Park.