The championship has taken its prototypes to the New South Wales Riverina region this week to conduct what has variously been dubbed as aero testing, aerodynamic evaluation, VCAT evaluation, or a ‘mini VCAT' (‘VCAT' being Supercars' ‘Vehicle Control Aerodynamic Testing' process which is undertaken whenever a new model is introduced or the bodywork of an incumbent is tweaked).
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According to Speedcafe.com sources, Monday's activity was in fact a so-called ‘speed test', which was aimed at comparing engine/powertrain packages, an area which has been a bone of contention for Ford.
It is thought that aerodynamic testing will actually begin today and continue for the rest of the week.
The “additional straight line evaluations” were announced by Supercars CEO Shane Howard, who did not explicitly identify the activity as ‘VCAT', via a press release issued last Wednesday in the hours after a controversial official test day at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Chevrolet Camaros locked out the top eight on the day, with the Blanchard Racing Team Ford Mustang finishing 1.0344s off the pace in ninth position in the hands of Todd Hazelwood.
However, most of the Camaros were running it about 60kg lighter than the Mustangs, and the Ford teams appeared to refrain from running on new soft or super soft tyres, a point affirmed by Blue Oval homologation team Dick Johnson Racing.
Furthermore, though, Speedcafe.com subsequently learnt that the Mustangs were hamstrung by a category-initiated change to their engine calibration on the night before which caused a spate of throttle problems across multiple Ford teams, while the Camaros had their shift cut elongated.
Both aerodynamics and powertrains have been contentious issues, with the Mustang having a deficiency in the engine and/or gear changing.
Ford Performance's Mark Rushbrook stated just over three weeks ago that “we are not satisfied that parity has been reached either for engine or aero” and also claimed that “some of those knobs and controls [in the engine] have been turned off.”
Last Friday week (February 17), cars were put back on a chassis or hub dyno, prior to the aforementioned Sydney test day.
Notable with respect to the Temora activity, Supercars confirmed that Championship full-timer Macauley Jones and 2023 Dunlop Super2 Series debutant Cooper Murray were driving on Monday, with Carrera Cup pilot Bayley Hall and Murray to do so for the rest of the week.
Supercars previously left it up to the homologation teams to provide a driver for VCAT, leading to controversy when, claims Roland Dane, the Ford driver who took part in the January 2020 process was told to excessively pump the brake pedal in order to create extra mechanical drag.
The championship now chooses drivers itself, calling up Hall and Supercars Safety Car driver Jason Routley to get behind the wheel of the Gen3 cars in the November 2022 VCAT.
The scope to choose is understood to be facilitated by the fact that the championship owns the prototypes rather than the teams or manufacturers, although whether there is any causation with respect to the January 2020 VCAT is not known.
However, that a change of driver is occurring from the Monday to the Tuesday of this week's activity at Temora is believed to not be down to mere chance.
Clearly Jones and apparently also Murray are considered capable of whatever is required for a ‘speed test', noting that the latter tested a ZB Commodore with Team 18 last year and is this year to steer one in Super2 with Eggleston Motorsport, which he drove recently at Winton.
Hall's experience, however, is limited to VCAT running in the Gen3 prototypes, including a so-called preliminary VCAT in June 2022 with the Mustang in its now superseded S550 bodywork.
That is, the switch of drivers neatly aligns with the change in objectives which Speedcafe.com sources have indicated.
Meanwhile, private testing has resumed this week, with Chevrolet homologation team Triple Eight Race Engineering running one of its Camaro race cars at Queensland Raceway yesterday and another today, with it will be joined by fellow Bowtie squads Matt Stone Racing and PremiAir Racing, plus DJR.