?Depending on who you talk to, Ford’s new Mustang may or may not be in V8 Supercars next year.
Prodrive Racing Australia, formerly known as Ford Performance Racing, has poured cold water on reports the Mustang has already locked in a place on the grid.
But star driver Mark Winterbottom told the Daily Telegraph “we are planning on being in a Mustang next year”, unofficially confirming months of speculation surrounding the team’s future.
PRA won back-to-back Bathurst titles in 2013 and 2014 before sealing the V8 Supercars championship in 2015. It has been the top-performing Ford team in Australia, even if the blue oval no longer has an official motorsport presence here.
Ford’s V8 Supercars support dried up before production of the Falcon finished in 2016. PRA and DJR Team Penske continue to campaign FG X Falcons at Bathurst and beyond without manufacturer backing.
PRA has a growing side business in Tickford, which produces performance parts for the Ford Mustang performance car and Ranger Ute.
It would make sense for the team to go racing with the Mustang in coming years, though homologating a new race car based on the two-door coupe represents a significant investment, particularly without manufacturer support.
The team released a statement on Wednesday clarifying reports it will run the Mustang in 2018 and beyond.
“No such decision has been made,” it says.
“As previously confirmed by the team, it is evaluating options for the eventual replacement of its current multiple championship-winning Ford FGX Falcon Supercar.
“This process is ongoing and involves consultation with multiple partners.
“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.”
New rules already in place for the championship allow teams to run a choice of two or four-door cars with a range of engines, opening the door to cars like the Mustang and Nissan’s GT-R.
Holden withdrew support for the Walkinshaw Performance-operated Holden Racing Team for 2017, leaving Red Bull Racing Australia as its only factory-backed operation. Now named the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, the Queensland-based outfit is committed to running the European-built, Opel Insignia-based and V6-powered Commodore in 2018, though not all teams with Holden equipment are expected to follow suit.
Nissan is the only other manufacturer represented in V8 Supercars, having committed to running in 2017 and 2018 with the Altima sedan. But that relatively unsuccessful program is under a cloud as Nissan has stopped importing the Altima, and it is hesitant to transform its GT-R halo model into a Supercar.