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Supercars Albert Park

Tickford facing $100,000 damage bill after Supercars fire

Tickford Racing is facing a $100,000 repair of James Courtney's scorched Ford Mustang from the Australian Grand Prix Supercars round.

James Courtney, Tickford Racing, Ford Mustang

Courtney's Mustang was one of two Fords badly damaged by engine fires across the Albert Park weekend.

Nick Percat's Walkinshaw Andretti United Ford was first to go up in flames on Friday, before Courtney's car followed suit a day later.

The nature of the fires prompted crisis meetings in the Supercars paddock and led to sweeping technical changes for Sunday's final race, which was started behind the safety car.

While Percat's car was repaired on the Friday night, Tickford opted to park Courtney's car on Saturday due to the extent of the damage.

According to Tickford CEO Tim Edwards, the team is now facing a $100,000 rebuild ahead of the Perth SuperSprint later this month.

“It will be every bit of a $100,000 repair,” he said. “There’s so much wiring and all those other things.

“Unfortunately fires are almost the worst type of accident because you can just replace a bar or you can weld up a new part or bolt on a new panel but fires just destroy everything and they just keep going and going.

“Fires are always the worst ones to repair.”

Complicating the rebuild is that spares are still in short supply for the new Gen3 cars.

Tickford lacks the necessary spares currently to repair Courtney's fire-damaged car

Tickford lacks the necessary spares currently to repair Courtney's fire-damaged car

When asked if Tickford had the spares in stock for the job, Edwards said: “Shit no! Particularly the electrical stuff.

“When you have an accident, you don’t normally damage all of your wiring. You might damage a few sublooms and things like that.

“There was obviously a lot of damage to the engine as well. A lot of the top of that engine, the inlet mani tracts and things like that are plastic, so you can imagine what all of that looks like.

“The engine will be straight back to [control Ford supplier] Herrod [Performance Engines].”

Theories on what is causing the fires is flowing thick and fast, with the most common in terms of fuelling the fire that the catch can vapours are collecting in the wheel well.

As for the ignition of the fires, it's thought the difference in the wiring to the daylight running lights for the Camaro compared to the Mustang could be the cause.

Another theory is that the spark is coming from a surge to the tyre pressure monitor sensor.

Forensic work will now begin to determine the cause without doubt.

“There’s 10 different theories to what might have caused it and all of those we put a risk mitigation strategy in place for [on Sunday],” said Edwards.

“We changed a lot of things including what you saw with the start of the race as well, because it’s quite clear that both of the fires started actually at the start of the race.

Fires on the Fords came shortly after the starts, prompting a switch to a rolling start for Sunday's fourth race

Fires on the Fords came shortly after the starts, prompting a switch to a rolling start for Sunday's fourth race

Photo by: Edge Photographics

“That’s where you start to see a trend in some of the info we’re getting from the car. By the time they get to Turn 8, you can start to see it smouldering a little bit but it actually started on the grid. So obviously the rolling start was put in place to eliminate that particular issue.

“Now we can go away and actually do a bit more homework. I think everything we did [at Albert Park] was right.

“There’s a million different theories; it’s TPMS or it’s the loom for the daylight running lights. There’s been a whole host of different theories put forward; the material that the wheel tubs are made out of.

“There’s a lot of different things that have been investigated and a lot will be done away from the track.”

Edwards also revealed that a boycott from the Ford teams could have been on the cards on Sunday had Supercars and its Technical Working Group not put the mitigation measures in place.

“It never got to that point because you just worked through the process,” he said.

“If we got to a point where we didn’t know what it was and we didn’t know how to put any kind of mitigation in place, well then you would ask that question.

“But we’re all quite comfortable that here’s the 10 things it might have been and here’s 10 things that will avoid those potentially causing it.

“So we never had to have that difficult question.”

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