It’s been no secret that The Blue Oval has been struggling with its GT3 Ford Mustang in the Australian V8 Supercars championship, prompting the sanctioning body to investigate issues related to parity. This week, ahead of the Townsville 500, Supercars introduced a new aero package, but it didn’t impress the Ford drivers all that much – but it seems to be working in their favor now, as Anton De Pasquale drove the No. 11 GT3 Mustang to victory on July 9th, 2023.
De Pasquale’s performance was aided in part by pit stop strategy throughout the main event, thanks in part to a DNF in an earlier event on Saturday, July 8th, which left him with an extra set of tires to take advantage of in the latter stages of Sunday’s race. With fresher rubber, De Pasquale was able to wield the No. 11 GT3 Ford Mustang in ways that the competition on older tires could not, defending the top spot all the way to the checkered flag.
“It’s awesome. It’s been an average year so far. It was a dream to drive today,” said de Pasquale. “It was great to get this one. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”
Ben Croke of Dick Johnson Racing, the team that fields the No. 11 GT3 Ford Mustang, was elated at his race car’s showing.
“A good day for the team, a good day for the Mustang, and a good day for Ford to be the first to cross the line this year,” Croke said. “What a relief. We showed we can still win. We remembered how to do it today. We turned up with new parts on the car, limited practice time, and with so much to learn.”
However, Croke admitted that there’s still some room for improvement, adding, “But one sunny day doesn’t mean it is summer. There is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do. We have to re-focus on learning the car the way it is now.”
De Pasquale’s win marks the first time a Ford team got across the line ahead of the competition in the Gen3 era. While Cam Waters, driver of the No. 6 GT3 Mustang, is credited with the Newcastle win earlier this year, he was only granted the victory after the top finishers were disqualified.