Tickford Racing returns to the track for 2018 hauled by a pair of ProStars
A pair of new International ProStar prime movers have joined leading Supercars team, Tickford Racing, to haul the race cars piloted by drivers Mark Winterbottom, Cam Waters, Chaz Mostert and Richie Stanaway around the Australian Supercar race venues.
Tickford Racing joins the Supercars grid in 2018 and will be the new name for this year’s season and beyond for the team previously known as Prodrive Racing (Australia). Heading into the 2018 Supercars season the team has claimed 63 race wins, 66 pole positions and 187 race podiums with its #5 and #6 entries.
The name change was made to more closely align the racing team with its sister company, the vehicle personalisation and performance business, Tickford. The change creates a collective of brands under the Tickford masthead, ensuring a clear identity for the business.
Both the ProStars – one sleeper cab, the second an extended cab – are powered by Cummins X15 engines producing 550 horsepower (410 kW)/1850 lb-ft variant (2508 Nm) matched to Eaton UltraShift Plus 18-speed automated manual transmissions.
One of the vehicles also features the ‘ADEPT’ package, which includes ‘SmartTorque2’ and ‘SmartCoast’ technology. SmartTorque2 is the next generation of torque management technology from Cummins whereby the system senses both the selected gear and overall engine load as a result of the gross vehicle weight, aerodynamic drag and road grade.
The ADEPT package is an option with the UltraShift Plus and utilises load, speed and grade sensing software, making minor adjustments to speed, power and transmission gear selection to take advantage of vehicle momentum for better fuel economy.
ProStar customers looking for increased power and performance can now choose an additional power rating with a new 600 horsepower (447 kW)/2050 lb-ft (2779 Nm) option. The additional power has been achieved via calibration changes to the ProStar’s 15-litre Cummins X15 engine, in a successful joint project between International’s Australian engineers and the team at Cummins South Pacific.
The race team transporter drivers get their new ProStars with some additional bling, including chrome, checkerplate and polished alloy trimmings along with additional auxiliary lighting.
The cab interiors feature the latest ergonomically designed 10-gauge instrument cluster with chrome bezels, a curved dashboard, leather driver and passenger air suspension seat, and 6.1” touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation.
The driver’s view from the cab of the ProStar of the road and surrounding potential hazards is particularly impressive as a result of the truck’s sloping hood, swept-back design, wraparound windshield and set-back A-pillars, plus the smooth lines are a major contributor to aerodynamic efficiency.
Navistar’s head of design, Chris Ito, had a major influence in the “slipperiness” of the overall truck aerodynamic performance that forms a common design cue through the International product range. International’s design team was also responsible for the cab interior space that provides the driver with a standing roof height of 1922 mm (sleeper cab variant), facilitating easy across-cab access and into the sleeper area.
“There is a freshness about International that’s very appealing, and they have been very keen to work with us,” said Tickford Racing co-owner, Rod Nash.
“We are very much looking forward to having their ProStar vehicles leading us from race to race this season and beyond.
“What IVECO is doing with International is similar to what we have been doing with Tickford Engineering and now Tickford Racing, in bringing a beloved brand back into the Australian market. That common mentality should make it a very positive partnership for both parties,” Mr. Nash added.
Interestingly, both International Trucks and Tickford relaunched their activities for the start of 2017. This rebranding positioned Tickford as a performance focused organisation that on one hand prepares race cars for the Supercar Championship, while subsequently also offering a one-stop customising centre for those wishing to personalise either the latest Ford Mustang or Ford Ranger. Both sides of the business are run separately but benefit from being able to share joint engineering resources.
The Tickford brand has grown substantially over the past two years as Ashley Miniken, Tickford’s marketing co-ordinator explained to PowerTorque Magazine:
“We provide our Tickford customers with something new and different to enhance their vehicles. We aim for an improved on-road experience rather than the off-road focus, as there are already plenty of companies specialising in extreme off road aspects”.
Using the 3.2-litre, five-cylinder Ford Ranger engine, Tickford reprogrammes the engine management system to increase power output by 15 percent from 147 kW to 169 kW, and increase the peak torque rating by 20 percent from 470 Nm out to 564 Nm.
The turbocharger remains the same, but there is a lift in boost pressures, assisted by an increase in intercooler capacity with the addition of hard piping, to improve the driveability and smoothness of power delivery. There are changes to the exhaust pipework downstream from the catalytic converter, with the exhaust system now increased to 2.5-inch diameter and exiting on the driver’s side, behind the rear wheels.
The performance and driveability gains of the Tickford Power Pack are aimed at improving towing smoothness and performance when carrying heavy loads. This upgrade also benefits driveability in the mid-range and is suitable for either manual or automatic transmissions. Rear axle ratios remain standard.
When it comes to fitting improved ride and handling packages, Tickford engineers have developed three key packages that suit the Ranger XLT, FX4 and Wildtrak models.
The Adventure Pack includes special Tickford designed sports bar and tonneau cover, all-terrain tyres, door sill plates, side exit exhaust, tailgate badge and light surrounds, together with a unique Tickford grille assembly. Customers can choose to incorporate 20-inch alloy rims shod with 265/50R20 tyres from Nitto or Goodyear, Bilstein dampers, King tapered wire coil springs and a 2.0-inch lift kit, to which is added greaseable bushing on the rear suspension and an additional coupling to compensate for the increased driveline angle.
The Tourer pack maintains the standard ride height but includes sports suspension for an improved on-road driving experience through reducing body roll for a more car-like feel and driving attitude. Accessories from the Adventure pack can be carried over or added to the Tourer pack. Opportunities also exist to personalise the external appearance with a matt black signature look through adding black-out styling cues around doors, windows and lights etc.
“Everything we do is about personalisation. We have a lot of Wildtrak owners that tow caravans. They want a little more power and comfort with a full Powerpack and full leather interior. We retrim the original seats, also changing the foam in the seat base for the rear passengers to reduce fatigue and improve comfort,” said Ashley.
“We also cater for the tradie that wants to upgrade all the visual aspects, such as the Adventure pack that provides both an engine tune and visual kit, wheels, flares, sidesteps and more power. It’s all about supplying varying levels of different personalisation of their vehicles. We can also offer a completely different range of seating colours, and retrim door trims and the centre console to match upgrades,” commented Ashley.
A brief driving evaluation of the Tickford Ranger underscored the additional smoothness of the power delivery, which is undoubtedly superior to that of the standard vehicle.
The increased power and torque output matches the automatic transmission extremely well, and the driving experience is again enhanced by the improvement in ride and handling for on-road work. The final result is a much smoother ride on-road, without the harshness associated with the standard model.
Adding interior trim upgrades are subjective to the owner, but the opportunity of being able to personalise a vehicle to a unique standard is guaranteed to appeal to a select audience. The Tickford catchphrase of Performance Driven by Passion, ably sums up the experience.