Why WAU risked fan backlash for manufacturing facility Ford deal

The previous Holden Racing Workforce made its shock bounce throughout the producer divide official in the present day by confirming that it’ll area a pair of Mustangs in Supercars subsequent season.

Given the Walkinshaw model’s lengthy affiliation with Holden, together with almost twenty years because the manufacturing facility Holden group, the defection is without doubt one of the most important in Supercars historical past.

It gained’t happen with out casualties, both, with early fan response to the information a transparent signal that – unsurprisingly – a portion of the diehard Holden/GM supporters gained’t comply with the group to the Blue Oval.

The toll on the fan base is more likely to be considerably larger than when the squad misplaced its manufacturing facility Holden deal to Triple Eight, as WAU was nonetheless seen as a dyed within the wool Holden group, whereas T8 had historical past with Ford.

Talking throughout in the present day’s announcement, co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw acknowledged that the Ford transfer gained’t be universally widespread with the group’s followers.

Nevertheless he mentioned the lure of a manufacturing facility cope with Ford made the defection worthwhile, even on the expense of some fan assist.

“You wouldn’t need it some other technique to be trustworthy, as a result of if it wasn’t for that keenness, what we do wouldn’t actually imply something, proper?” he mentioned when requested concerning the destructive response from some followers.

“So, you count on to have some passionate responses, one thing that’s as large a choice as we’ve needed to make and we have been anticipating it, however to be trustworthy the response has been loads higher than we thought.

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“You’re at all times going to have a small minority of individuals which might be extremely vocal and admittedly it’s a shock to many of the Australian automotive neighborhood.

“In case you actually thought of it a yr in the past, we most likely would have been one of many groups you’d thought would have been least more likely to make a change like we’ve simply made.

“So I absolutely respect and have numerous understanding of why numerous the followers would discover this surprising and why followers may discover it disappointing and even really feel some anger in direction of it.

“However I believe the overwhelming majority of our followers comply with our group due to who we’re, they comply with our values, they comply with our drivers, they comply with the way in which that we go about enterprise and so they share the identical ardour for eager to go and win races.

“That’s what we’re actually right here to do, we’re not right here to return second or third.

“In case you take a look at Supercars over the past 10 years, I believe there’s just one championship winner that wasn’t a factory-supported group, which is an effective indication of the significance of being manufacturing facility supported if you wish to go and win championships.

“It’s actually, actually important to our ambitions to do this. I believe the overwhelming majority of individuals will perceive why we made the choice.

“It’s not the very fact we fell out with GM or don’t have an amazing working relationship with GM or something like that, we wished to make a change, we wished to be a manufacturing facility group, and we wished to have a partnership the place we have been wished and share the identical ambitions and targets that we did.”

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What isn’t totally clear is the extent of the manufacturing facility backing WAU will get from Ford. Nevertheless it seems the assist might be unfold throughout the six Ford groups, relatively than concerted on, say, Dick Johnson Racing and WAU for instance.

A seperate announcement on that’s anticipated later.

“We may have numerous factory-backed groups in 2023,” confirmed Andrew Birkic, President and CEO of Ford Australia.

“Greater than two. We’re not including any extra groups, when it comes to Mustangs.”

The WAU/Ford deal has raised questions on whether or not the brand new relationship may prolong past the race monitor and into the automotive world.

The Walkinshaw Group is closely concerned within the street automobile design and engineering trade and presently works with the likes of GM and Volkswagen.

Nevertheless, because it stands, Ford Australia says it’s not considering a street automobile tie-up.

“It’s an apparent query. The reply is that they’re seperate companies,” mentioned Birkic.

“So, in the present day we’re speaking about motorsport and there’s no dialogue or announcement on the opposite facet of the enterprise.”

Walkinshaw didn’t rule out working in direction of an automotive collaboration, whereas additionally reiterating that in the present day’s announcement is strictly about racing.

“In case you’re asking me if there’s a possibility to develop my automotive enterprise with new clients, I believe it’s a reasonably apparent reply. In fact,” he mentioned.

“Ford has some nice merchandise and we all know that we’re the main automotive design, engineering and manufacturing enterprise in Australia in the intervening time. So we are able to add numerous worth there.

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“However on the finish of the day that’s not why we made this choice. It’s actually necessary to make it clear that WAU is a partnership with myself, Michael Andretti and Zak Brown. The one affiliation between that and my automotive group is me.

“What we do on the race monitor will not be related to what we do off-track on the automotive facet. This relationship and this dialogue we’re having in the present day is solely motorsport.”