Walkinshaw’s salvation lies with Andretti and United

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru


7 Have your say

    Supercar driver Scott McLaughlin (Shell V-Power Racing Team) during this mornings practice at Mount Panorama Bathurst, in Bathurst, Saturday, October 7, 2017. The Bathurst 1000 is the most famed race in the V8 Super Car calendar, fought out over 1000kms, the event draws fans from all over the country to the New South Wales town of Bathurst. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    The build-up to the Bathurst 1000 oversaw a momentous announcement regarding the beleaguered HSV Racing Team, with the organisation set to welcome Andretti Autosport and United Autosports in 2018.

    From the first of January 2018, the former Holden Racing Team will be reborn as Walkinshaw Andretti United, bringing together a triumvirate of motorsport heavyweights into a sole project in the Supercars series.

    Well documented on this column throughout the year, have been the woes of the Walkinshaw outfit. Since losing the rights of being the factory Holden team in 2016, the sacking of their stalwart driver in Garth Tander and then the departure of team manager Adrian Burgess – there has been no end to the outfit’s misery.

    Until now that is, with U.S. giant Michael Andretti and McLaren Group CEO Zak Brown, on behalf of United Autosports, buying a stake into the Walkinshaw organisation.

    “To be able to partner with both Andretti Autosport and United Autosports is an honour,” said Ryan Walkinshaw in a statement following the announcement.

    “We’ve looked from afar at what both have to offer the team moving forward, which is why everyone should be so excited.

    “Fundamentally, we are doing it differently. This combination of international expertise is a pivotal step in accelerating our development, getting us where we need to be.

    “We’ve been looking for partners who can add value to this team, both on and off the track, so to find that so resoundingly is the most pleasing element.

    “It’s not only an alliance of technical expertise, but commercial prowess. Their experience, knowledge and record, both on and off the race-track, gives us, our current partners, and any future partners, access to global networks and talent pools.

    “Today is the beginning of a new era. We are still firmly focused on the job at hand for 2017, but are eagerly looking forward to 2018.”

    What screams optimism about this new partnership, is that it emulates what was pioneered by Dick Johnson Racing in 2015, when they united with American racing icon in Roger Penske.

    Since winning their last championship in 2010 with James Courtney, DJR endured a frustrating lack of success in the years to come. That was until Team Penske arrived and invested into the legendary squad, to create what is the super-team today.

    For Walkinshaw, their last championship win came back in 2002, which is difficult to fathom considering the success of the Holden brand throughout the 2000s. Any of their achievements since, including Bathurst 1000 wins in 2009 and 2011 – have been dwarfed by the success of the ex-HSV Dealer Team and current Holden factory squad in Triple Eight.

    With the unsurmountable success that DJR Team Penske have enjoyed in 2017 alone, having now had three seasons to set the foundations and utilise new resources – it is formula that can certainly put Walkinshaw back among the front-runners of Supercars.

    Andretti himself, who boasts a rich racing lineage from his father Mario the ex-Formula One world champion and his son Marco, who is following his father’s footsteps on the IndyCar scene, has made it clear that it was the allure of his IndyCar foe in Penske that drew him to Supercars.

    “Honestly, when Roger got involved we started looking at it, out of the corner of my eye,” Andretti said to Supercars.com.

    “I’m always looking to go up against Roger anywhere we can go. It’s a great rivalry that we have, so that definitely helped my decision.

    “[After Penske joined DJR] I put some feelers out there, if there was any opportunities I’d want to do it. There was a couple of little opportunities, but they weren’t the right deals.

    “But then this one came through Zak Brown to us and it was perfect. It was exactly what we were wanting to do.”

    As with DJR Team Penske, there will be no overnight remedy to mend the trauma that the team is currently suffering from. Rather it must be a given that by the turn of the decade, that the once great racing team can be restored to the glory that it was associated with.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • October 13th 2017 @ 2:39pm
      Garry Edwards said | October 13th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

      It’s a very thought provoking column and deserves commentary I’ll not attempt to be persuasive but rather raise a few points from my perspective.
      I for one watched Bathurst in it’s entirety and came away thinking about Walkinshaw Racing (WR) not as a priority mind you but rather as one element of a grouped thought.
      In previous race meetings WR haven’t really done a great deal to inspire belief due to controversial decision making on and off track recruitment and driver performance on track but, not once has it been through poor engine performance or reliability, true the same can be said about T8 and many other teams BUT Bathurst is the great leveller.
      WR soon to be called “WALKANUNITE”(?) certainly from a endurance aspect wont need engine reliability and the same can be said about PRA, BJR, Erebus. Those companies don’t use KRE prepared donks but some certainly do use Walkinshaw Engines. So from a sprint or shortened race perhaps the engines need to be spiked! Same can be said about the PRA engjnes given the performance of key driver over shorter distances.
      So when I look at Bathurst I ask are the T8 and the Penske engines refined and tuned to such a level that the engine is unduly stressed which equates to unreliability over a 1000klm distance?
      WR definitely need an improvement at management level and by their own admission on a technical/tactical racing level. And then perhaps they will resurrect themselves. So the Andretti and United side provide expertise and funding/ investment should equate to success.
      To legitimise my statement about stressed engines I look at Erebus, BJR LDM and as far as Ford goes just PRA and all those hadn’t had engine issues.
      I also consider this involvement to be a natural step in evolution by V8SC to the next level of whereby more international racing identities will become involved and when will BJR be suited or even Erebus etc. and by whom?
      The writings on the wall V8SC needs involvement by international racing identities if it is to survive.
      Just off subject but associated, what now happens to the tie up of WR and Porsche? Will WR enter the Bathurst 12 hr 2018 with another 2 Porsche 911GT3? Will Lauren Vanthoor come back to pilot the primary car or will it be a McLaren? Due to the Brown association? And what of the wildcard entry by Walkanunite for Bathurst 2018 (unconfirmed as yet). American drivers?
      Will the Andretti and Brown use WR a leg up into GT3 an if so will Penske follow and who would be next given that V8SC ownership or control is to be wielded by American and European Moguls, lets not mention archaic rules and regs.
      But in all honesty I can’t see anything but good things for this category Australia’s premier category and if people don’t believe it’s competitive, now! Hold on boys and girls it’s just starting to warm up..

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2017 @ 8:44pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | October 14th 2017 @ 8:44pm | ! Report

        As you say mate, for the powerhouses to survive in Supercars they are starting to align themselves with international racing identities, seeing as there is no longer any manufacturer support. The involvement now from Penske, Andretti/United and even Prodrive from the UK, shows that there is plenty of intrigue for what is a fairly simple formula of touring car racing. Simple, but effective.

        Andretti has already alluded to the possibility of running a wildcard for the Bathurst 1000 next year, with pilots from their IndyCar programme. That is something that we haven’t seen yet from Penske, though if Andretti is going to be bringing an international wildcard – you can bet that Roger will do the same.

        As far as the GT component is concerned, it would be great for Walkinshaw to continue representing the factory Porsche moniker at the 12 Hour. Must have Vanthoor, Earl Bamber and co back on the Mountain!

    • Roar Guru

      October 13th 2017 @ 4:59pm
      Bayden Westerweller said | October 13th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

      So long as all parties don’t assume success a la Penske is a formality, you can anticipate a relatively swift return to the pointy end of the field. If everybody knows their role and there’s no clash of ideologies, it seems like a very smart collaboration.

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2017 @ 8:45pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | October 14th 2017 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

        It’s not a guarantee, but now with a more vast array of resources available, their development progress should be a lot more positive.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 10:54pm
      steve said | October 13th 2017 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

      I’m quite looking forward to seeing the improvement in WR when Andretti and United come in permanently. Will be interesting to see what manufacturer they will run with. Kind of hoping Jaguar TBH.

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2017 @ 8:46pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | October 14th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

        Turn the XF into a Supercar!

        • October 15th 2017 @ 2:20pm
          steve said | October 15th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

          Yeah I like it, a nod to history when Tom Walkinshaw ran the Jags.

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