Australian racing fans are staring down the end of an era as news breaks that Ford will no longer participate in the V8 Supercars series. Although the official announcement has yet to be made, the decision – as reported widely in the automotive press Down Under and in global motorsport publications – indicates that the Blue Oval automaker has already confirmed its intentions to its shareholders early on Monday to shut down its factory effort in the popular tin-top series at the end of next season.
The move will mark the end of an era for what has become the International V8 Supercars Championship. Alongside GM's Holden division, Ford was one of only two manufacturers competing in the series from its inception in the late 1990s through last year when a change in regulations opened the door for entries from Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes. Further rule changes are expected to attract even more manufacturers to the series, with Lexus said to be first among them.
Over the past eighteen seasons, the V8 Supercars Championship has been won in a Holden Commodore fourteen times, leaving Ford to win the title only four times with successive versions of the Falcon. Eleven of the cars on the grid this season were Commodores, compared to only seven Ford Falcons between two teams that will need to switch to another manufacturer for the season after next – although some could opt to stick with their Fords for one more season, even without factory support, until the open 2016 regulations take effect.
The decision follows Ford's announcement last year that it will cease manufacturing in Australia by 2016, ending a 90-year presence Down Under that stretches back to 1925. Blue Oval models like the Falcon, previously unique to the Aussie market, are being replaced by imported models like the Mondeo and Mustang.