Bombshell bulletins are few and much between in trendy motorsport, as groups are likely to favor evolution somewhat than revolution. However Ford dropped a genuinely surprising announcement at present – confirming it has signed Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU) to run Mustangs beginning within the 2023 season.
Why is that so vital? As a result of WAU was the outfit as soon as – and for a long-time – often known as the Holden Racing Group. From 1988 till 2016, the Clayton-based squad was the official, factory-backed staff and have become synonymous with the model and loved huge success because of legendary names like Brock, Lowndes, Skaife, Murphy and Tander.
Profitable trumps custom in motor racing, although, so WAU staff boss Ryan Walkinshaw has determined to swap producers because the Gen3 laws start to provide drivers Chaz Mostert and Nick Percat the very best likelihood of profitable races and championships. Whereas WAU gained 11 titles (six drivers’ and 5 groups’) because the Holden Racing Group, it hasn’t gained a championship since 2009.
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“Immediately marks a brand new period for Walkinshaw Andretti United, one we’re extraordinarily enthusiastic about,” staff co-owner, Ryan Walkinshaw, mentioned. “For over three many years now we have gone head-to-head in competitors with Ford, however becoming a member of forces with them for Gen3 was the clear path ahead.
“We’re extraordinarily pleased with our historical past with Holden over such a protracted time frame, that’s one thing we’ll at all times be glad about. We are going to put on the Holden badge with pleasure proper up till their ultimate race in Supercars on the finish of 2022. However now it’s time for change, it’s time for a brand new chapter.”
Whereas a significant change for WAU, that is hardly the primary time a number one staff has made a dramatic producer swap.
The most important is definitely Peter Brock’s notorious fallout with Holden in the course of the 1987 season, when he dropped the Lion model and swapped to BMWs for 1988. When the E30 M3s proved uncompetitive, Brock did what was thought of unthinkable on the time and commenced racing Fords. He drove the favored Ford Sierra Cosworth in 1989 and 1990 with combined outcomes and in the end ended up again in Holdens for the 1991 season.
Brock’s long-time arch-rival, Allan Moffat, additionally made a controversial automobile swap within the Eighties, ditching his affiliation with Ford in favour of the then-new Mazda RX-7. He raced the rotary-powered sports activities automobile for 5 seasons earlier than he then, maybe much more shockingly, joined Peter Brock in a Holden for 1986.
Gibson Motorsport was synonymous with Nissan in touring automobile racing within the Eighties and early ‘90s, most famously with the all-conquering R32 Skyline GT-R. However when the V8 Supercar laws got here into impact for the 1993 season, the staff was pressured to drop the potent Nissans in favour of Holden Commodores – taking Jim Richards and Mark Skaife with it.
Extra lately, and considerably fittingly within the context of WAU’s Ford swap, was Triple Eight Race Engineering’s choice to drop Ford in favour of Holden in 2010. Regardless of profitable the back-to-back championships and Bathurst 1000s, Ford minimize the staff’s funding, leaving the trail open for the transition to Holden.
The staff would go on to grow to be Holden’s main squad, a lot in order that Holden determined that for the 2017 season onwards Triple Eight would grow to be the brand new Holden Racing Group – changing WAU.
Let’s additionally not overlook Kelly Racing’s swap from Holden to Nissan in 2013 with the Altima, earlier than shifting once more to Ford with the Mustang in 2020.
However arguably essentially the most controversial of all model swaps was in 2014, when Garry Rogers Motorsport swtiched from Holden to Volvo, with the manufacturing unit supported S60s greatest identified for making Scott McLaughlin a family title. Volvo’s time within the sport solely lasted three seasons, nonetheless, with GRM returning to Holden Commodore entries for 2017.
It was additionally lately revealed how shut GRM got here to changing into a Chrysler manufacturing unit staff, with excessive stage discussions happening in 2012. A price range shortfall ended thse plans, nonetheless.