Team(s): The Bottle-O Racing Team / Supercheap Auto Racing / Monster Energy Racing / MEGA Fuels Tickford Racing
Team Principal: Rusty French; Rod Nash
Chassis: Ford Falcon FG X
Drivers’ Championships: 2015
Drivers: Mark Winterbottom (The Bottle-O Racing Team) / Chaz Mostert (Supercheap Auto Racing) / Cameron Waters (Monster Energy Racing) / Richie Stanaway (MEGA Fuels Tickford Racing)
A brief history
Tickford Racing (formerly known as Prodrive Racing Australia and before that Ford Performance Racing) was formed in December 2002 after British engineering firm Prodrive, bought Glenn Seton Racing. Ahead of the 2013 season, the then Ford Performance Racing (FPR) underwent a change of ownership with leading Australian motorsport identities Rod Nash and ‘Rusty’ French purchasing the team from Prodrive. The team also expanded to a four-car operation with Racing Entitlements Contract owner Charlie Schwerkolt bringing in his #18 license from Dick Johnson Racing in a multi-year agreement.
In 2014, the team were informed by Ford Australia that from 2016 the car manufacturer would no longer support the team and its racing program. The team’s best moment came when Chaz Mostert and co-driver Paul Morris won the Bathurst 1000, FPR’s second win at the great race in as many years.
In 2015 the team changed its name to Prodrive Racing Australian (PRA), as a result of Ford’s decision to progressively withdraw its support by 2016.Despite minimal factory support in 2015, the team still ran the new FG X Falcon as planned, winning its first ever Drivers’ Championship after Mark Winterbottom dominated the majority of the season. Pepsi Max Crew teammate Chaz Mostert also enjoyed a strong showing until a season-ending crash at Bathurst, while stablemate David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team) secured third in the championship and Andre Heimgartner (Super Black Racing) enjoyed a promising rookie season before unexpectedly being replaced by Chris Pither with two rounds to go.
The Ford team remained at four entries for 2016, but with a major branding re-shuffle. Mark Winterbottom raced under The Bottle-O Racing colours, Chaz Mostert had the backing of SuperCheap Auto, Cam Waters had the support of Monster Energy (TBC), and New Zealander Chris Pither brought Ice Break to the Super Black Racing customer entry. Looking to repeat their 2015 success, it was a disappointing year for the squad, only managing two wins (both by Winterbottom) despite all drivers securing a pole position during the season.
2017 saw Winterbottom, Mostert and Waters joined by Jason Bright (in place of the ousted Pither) returning to the team for the first time since 2006 with MEGA Racing. However, while Ford officially clinched the Virgin Australia Supercars Manufacturers’ Championship breaking a seven-year Holden stranglehold on the manufacturers’ trophy, PRA often played second fiddle to the fight between Shell V-Power Racing and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team. With only four race wins and finishing with three drivers between fifth and eighth in the standings led by Chaz Mostert, season highlights were rare, but a first PIRTEK Enduro Cup won by Mostert and Steve Owen, and a Sandown 500 victory for Waters and Richie Stanaway, the first Supercars victory for both, were standouts.
A strong performance in the back half of 2017, helped by the introduction of a 2018-focused engine upgrade, bodes well for the newly-named Tickford Racing, a moniker introduced at the end of the 2017 season to more closely align the racing team with its Tickford vehicle personalisation and performance business. And expectations are high for Tickford Racing. Following his faultless enduro campaign, Stanaway steps up from his co-driver role to a full-time drive replacing Jason Bright in the 2018 line-up following the Supercars veteran’s retirement from full-time racing, creating one of the strongest driver line-ups in the category.