In a momentous day for the championship, Blanchard Racing Team was the only squad present at Winton Motor Raceway to put the first race track miles into its brand-new Ford Mustang.
Sunshine State-based competitors including homologation teams Dick Johnson Racing and Triple Eight Race Engineering were supposed to run on Queensland Raceway two days earlier but neither will in fact do so with their race cars until next week, specifically Tuesday for the former and Thursday for the latter.
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That the smallest team in the championship beat the homologation teams, and every other on the grid, to the punch was certainly a proud moment for BRT, but one which had already raised questions from rivals.
Indeed, Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan asserted by way of a recent press release that, “Teams that make that date [today] will be testing with cars that are not complete or Gen3 approved. If they do test with complete cars it will be unfair.”
The Blanchard family not only runs a race team but also the CoolDrive Auto Parts business, BRT's naming rights sponsor, which has been charged with sourcing some of the parts for the Gen3 race cars.
Tim Blanchard himself, Co-Team Principal and now the very first person to drive a Gen3 race car on a track, puts the achievement down to exploiting the logistics of CoolDrive, but insists that no rival was left waiting on parts it was responsible for.
“This is a project we started back in the middle of last year,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“We were proactive in preparing our resources, significantly increased our manufacturing capability, leveraging the product sourcing and supply chain network we have through CoolDrive, and just long hours.
“We had minimal break over holiday over Christmas; we didn't do any ride days at the end of the last year to make sure every hour was spent on building a Gen3 car…
“We've worked incredibly hard to get into this position, we've flown around the country pick up parts instead of waiting for freight companies, we've done everything we can to save a day here or two or three hours here to get ourselves into this position.
“From a CoolDrive perspective, there's nothing on that BRT car that isn't available at any team in pit lane.
“As far as I'm aware, no one's called me about anything that they're waiting on from CoolDrive that is on our car.
“I'm pretty confident that we've been very transparent with the teams from a CoolDrive point of view.
“I think most of the delays have been around the composite parts and the components that CoolDrive's not involved in.”
Asked to compare the #3 Mustang today to how it is set to roll out for the season-opening Thrifty Newcastle 500 in March, he said, “There's a few ergonomic things and little bits and pieces like that, that will be different.
“But we've got solutions in there for the for the time being, but they're nothing fundamental to performance of the car or legality of the car.”
Supercars Head of Motorsport Adrian Burgess was in attendance at Winton.
Asked if the BRT car was fully compliant, he told Speedcafe.com, “I looked at it and they've done a good job.
“They haven't cut any corners; it's got all the right parts in it.
“I'm sure they'll go back, pull it apart, and just go over everything. That's what teams do.
“They've got time on their side now, if you look at it that way; they've got another test day, and then the 22nd [all-in test at Sydney Motorsport Park], and I'm sure they'll use that time wisely.
“They haven't started changing set-ups or anything in there yet so they've got a lot of work to do still but, for me, the build quality looks great, the car looks great, everything seems to fit nice as we've sort of done with the two prototypes.
“I think it's good, I think this car's come together quite nice.”
While the #3 Mustang did encounter some teething problems during the day, it also completed a relatively long run, and Blanchard was left with a feeling of pride.
“[I am] Very proud of what everyone in our team has achieved to get the car out here, and to get through the programme today is a major achievement,” he said.
“It shows that it's not just slapped together; it's actually prepared to a high level straight out the gate, which is a credit to everyone involved.
“So, really pleased with it, achieved everything we wanted today and who knows how that's going to translate going into Newcastle, but confident we've done everything we can to put our best foot forward and done everything we can within our control to ensure that we're in the best possible position to make the most of the opportunity.”