Ford Performance Racing has showed its 2009 Falcon FG and demonstrated its new equipment to full effect this week, topping the V8 Supercar Championship Series’ test times with the all-new race car.
In the first official test of the year, both FPR FG Falcons ran faultlessly at Winton Motor Raceway on their maiden extended outing. Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards unofficially recorded times of 1:23.74 and 1:23.88 respectively during a period when the circuit’s timing system failed.
That was nearly four-tenths quicker than Winterbottom’s official time, which had also put him fastest on the official time sheets.
The all new race car offers Ford Performance Racing drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards their best-ever shot at the Australian V8 Supercars title. It is the first all-new car from Ford in six years. Previous changes have been evolutionary; the FG is completely new and race teams have built their cars from the “inside out”, developing their roll cages to provide torsional stiffness as well as crash protection.
Key visual differences for the new Falcon FG in Australia are a complete new aerodynamic treatment focussed around an all-new rear wing and front “splitter” airdam. The aerodynamic package will be common to all teams switching to the new FG and has already been evaluated by the series organisers to ensure there is equal aerodynamic performance between the Ford and Holden teams.
Most teams changed to sequential gearshifting of the six speed Holinger transmission last year, and the interior of the FG now more closely resembles that of an open-wheeler race car, with the driver’s data display and many of the car’s electronic controls grouped on or around the steering wheel. The car’s data acquisition system monitors engine performance and a range of other functions, and has a 1Gb memory.
FPR’s 5.0 litre V8 engine remains similar to the 2008 specification, and is based on a production iron block and aluminium heads, and produces 470 kW in a car with an all-up weight of 1355 kg. FPR exclusively uses Castrol lubricants and products in its race cars.
Changes to the championship regulations aimed at reducing the cost of competition and improving the environmental performance of the sport are welcomed by Ford’s factory team
The “control” tyres for the category now include a new softer tyre available at six rounds; teams are allowed 12 tyres per car per round.
There is now a minimum weight for the engine block of 70 kg and for the cylinder head of 13.5 kg – a limit aimed at minimising expensive “weight shaving” programmes that have the potential to reduce component life.
All the teams at this week’s test were running the new-for-2009 E85 ethanol biofuel, which replaces the premium unleaded petrol used until the end of the 2008 season.
With FPR ‘s new cars launched, the team’s 2008 race cars will be used in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, the “feeder” category to the main championship.
The 2009 V8 Supercar championshion starts this month with the Clipsal 500 street race in Adelaide, March 19-22 and the cars hit the streets of Hamilton April 17-19.
Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
“I think the biggest change is probably that the FG uses its tyres better than the BF; the times I banged out in the last session on old tyres were pretty good.
“When you’re developing a new car you’re just trying to make the last one better. For us we had a quick car on new tyres last year but on a longer run it was not so good. I think we’ve made that a lot better by improving little things, which will be good especially with the new format of racing this year.”
Castrol FPR Falcon
“We’ve been doing a lot of house keeping with the oil system and different components of the car today; not as much tuning as Frosty did with his car but I’m very pleased. We’ve had a good positive outcome.
“We’re not going any faster than we were in the BF but it does feel a bit different. The car seems to have good synergy; it turns in nicely and comes out of the corner with good linear throttle. It’s a good package to start out with.
“With the ethanol, the only difference I could notice was we weren’t reaching the limiter at the same spots as last year. That could be caused by something else, but if it is the fuel it would be quite a significant change.
“After two years’ hard work developing these cars, it’s fantastic to actually see them hit the track in anger.
“We’ve turned up here today and the cars have run faultlessly from the outset and both drivers are happy with them, which is music to my ears. After today we know everything, from the drivers cooling suit to the gear shift, is working A-OK for Clipsal.
“Although there were no other FGs here, Garth Tander was the perfect benchmark for us; it was him and Jamie Whincup who were the two people Frosty fought with for the championship.”
2009 V8 Supercar Official Test Day – Victoria
WINTON MOTOR RACEWAY - UNOFFICIAL
1. Mark Winterbottom, Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon: 1:23.74
2. Steve Richards, Castrol FPR Falcon: 00.2353 1:23.88
3. Will Davison, HRT: 1:24.3192
4. Michael Caruso, GRM: 1:24.3245
5. Rick Kelly, Kelly Racing: 1:24.5969
6. Lee Holdsworth, GRM: 1:24.6265
7. Paul Dumbrell, Walkinshaw Racing: 1:24.6734
8. Todd Kelly, Kelly Racing: 1:24.7138
9. Garth Tander, HRT: 1:24.7162
10. Cameron McConville, BJR: 1:24.7448