In a move that caught many in the paddock by surprise, North Star Racing announced late last night that they have secured customer Ford engines for the 2019 Formula Virtual season.
North Star was left without an engine supplier after current suppliers BMW announced their exit at the end of 2018 in the run-up to the Belgian V-Prix, bringing to an end a partnership that saw the team become the first "non-original" outfit to win an official Formula Virtual race.
Team principal Nick Forrest believes this decision will give North Star the best chance of progressing toward the front of the grid. "Admittedly we didn't have a huge amount of time to make this decision, but even so, we were very excited by what Ford showed us and what they were able to offer. If they can deliver on that, North Star should be able to make great strides toward the head of the field in the near future."
This makes North Star the third and final team to run Ford power for the upcoming season, along with fellow 2016 newcomers FIRST Motorsport, and AMR.
With FIRST as the de facto Ford 'works' team, many were not expecting them to supply North Star, given the occasionaly flared rivalry between the two teams in the past. However, Forrest claims previous on-track battles did not cloud judgement on either side.
"Things do occasionally get a bit fiesty between battling teams, we all have to admit that, but with the Formula Virtual grid as competitive as it is, that has to be expected every so often. FIRST, like ourselves, are very driven, very eager to be competing at the front of the grid, and have had occasions where they've punched well above their weight. You have to have respect for all of the teams when you're going wheel-to-wheel with them out there."
"We're obviously very glad to have put the whole engine saga behind us, we know what's going to be in the back of the V04 now, and we can look forward to working with Ford next season."
Adam Blocker, team principal of FIRST Motorsport, also gave his thoughts on the matter on the official website of the American team.
"I am excited to welcome North Star into the Ford engine group for 2019. When we [FIRST] heard that North Star needed an engine supplier after BMW pulled out, we made sure that FIRST did what we could to convince Ford to supply a third team. We did that because we know how strong of a team North Star are from constant fierce competition between our two teams from the beginning of 2016. I am excited to see Nick and North Star's contributions to the testing and development of Ford's new engine for 2019, and I look forward to FIRST, North Star, AMR, and Ford taking the fight to the big three of Formula Virtual in the future."