Red Bull Holden Racing team boss Roland Dane has said that the introduction of the Mustang to the Supercars championship last season was a “rude shock” to the series’ parity system.
The Mustang immediately made an impact on the championship, winning 16 of the first 17 races. Most of which were dominated by the DJR Team Penske duo.
What followed was a myriad of changes made to the Mustang after Centre of Gravity testing from the Albert Park round revealed a discrepancy that favoured the Mustang over both the Commodore and Nissan Altima.
The Mustang was then forced to clamp 27kgs of ballast to their roof rollbars while the Commodore had 6.8kgs added to the leading edge of the roof. Further VCAT aerodynamic testing throughout the offseason aimed to narrow the disparity ahead of the 2020 season.
On the latest episode of the Rusty’s Garage podcast, Dane said that the introduction of the Mustang was a “rude shock” to the existing level of parity.
“At the end of 2018 there was an aero test, and the other side turned up with a car that was just so radically different from anything that had been done before,” Dane told host Greg Rust.
“We knew we were on the back foot. But because Supercars as a category had never been placed in this position – or certainly in the 16 years that I had been around – they didn’t really know how to deal with it. Which is totally different to how the landscape had been for the Ford versus Holden fight all the time I had been in Australia.
“I would never say there hadn’t been differences, but they were so small that other things had been more important – the team, the driver, etc.
“It was a rude shock to the system. It was a rude shock to Supercars and the teams that we suddenly had this inequity.
“To their credit, [Supercars] dealt with the centre of gravity problem straight away. We’d been asking and asking and asking and asking, but they dealt with it as quickly as they practically could.
“The aero side was more complicated. We had a couple of false dawns. We knew what needed to be done to put us in the same ballpark.”
Dane is alluding the to the new Gurney flap that was introduced on the Commodore ahead of the New Zealand round from Pukekohe.
Triple Eight would then go on to win eight of the last ten races, including six consecutive victories from the Gold Coast 600 to the season finale in Newcastle.
But Dane says that his team already had developed the Gurney flap even before the 2019 season, claiming it was designed in late 2018 once initial pictures of the Mustang were released.
“We’d even gone to the aero test the beginning of December in 2018 with the Gurney that we then ran later in the year,” Dane said.
“We had gone with it, we had never tested it, but we’d gone with it because we said to Supercars ‘we should have this in the toolbox in case we need it’ having looked at the pictures of the Mustang at Queensland Raceway.
“That’s exactly the part that went on the car at Pukekohe. When we put it on at Pukekohe, we had never had it on a car before.
“We thought that might be the fix that we needed and it certainly put us back in the ballpark.
“But the politics along the way, to be honest, almost destroyed the sport.”
The Supercars championship is currently scheduled to return with the Winton Super400 on June 5-7.