DJR Team Penske has dedicated an experienced engineer to focus on possibilities for 2017, when the Gen2 Supercars phase kicks in.
Mark Fenning, who has spent six years at the team across two stints, shifts from engineering Scott Pye to “focusing on projects that lead into 2017” – something managing director Ryan Story describes as an exciting change, with the team
recruiting Bathurst-winning engineer Adam De Borre to run Pye.
Story explained that the best teams in the category were always looking to and planning for the future, and in order for the newly-expanded DJR Team Penske outfit to challenge, it needed a clear direction.
“We’re actually trying to be a little bit proactive in terms of where we’re going to be down the line,” Story explained to v8supercars.com.au.
“It really is an exciting opportunity to see where that may lead.”
The Gen2 Supercars transformation is set to begin next season, when the category opens up regulations to allow for different engine configurations and body shapes. The aim is to make the category more relevant to manufacturers and fans, as the automotive landscape transforms in Australia.
“We’re still working through what it all looks like, having a dedicated engineering resource on that stuff, and look at it as an exciting prospect for us,” Story explained.
“Again, it’s all about being proactive.
“We don’t expect to scare the field this year. We’re hoping with the right planning and the right preparation we get the biggest advantage we can – not just in ‘16 but into the future.
“The reason why the lead teams are the lead teams in this category is because they have tremendous foresight – not to mention the depth and structure within the organisation to adapt and learn new rules and get on top of them. That’s the same way of operating we hope to emulate.”
There are plenty of possibilities for 2017, with teams able to continue with the V8 package currently utilised or switch to different cars. While engine and body shape are open, the ‘car of the future’ chassis will remain, with cars to run a front engine, rear wheel drive, right hand drive, four seats and accurately reflect the look of the road car.
“It’s all about understanding what those opportunities are – and we’ll know in due course what our plan are in terms of what direction we may or may not be going,” Story said.
“But it makes sense to start thinking about some of those variables now.”
The team currently runs Ford Falcon FG Xs with no support from Ford, which no longer claims a factory team in the Championship. Story would not confirm whether the team was in serious discussions with manufacturers.
“It’s premature to say anything but as we’ve said in the past, we’d like to do something with Ford if an opportunity exists. But ultimately we’ll make the right decisions for us – be they the correct business decisions, and we might be something different in 2017.”
Manufacturer support is important to V8 Supercars teams, with Story describing it as the “missing piece in the puzzle right now” for DJR Team Penske.
The team expanded a year earlier than expected to two cars, and Story believes it will continue to improve with more consistency and a bolstered crew.
“We’ve got a lot to prove,” he said.
“This year is an opportunity for us to really show we’re not a flash in the pan and we can be consistently competitive.
“That was our weakness last year – despite the fact we went from a pretty poor position to being competitive, we weren’t consistent across the race weekends in the latter part of the year. So we need to jump on that and do a better job this year.
“I’m confident that we will. And part of that is getting everything right and moving in the right direction.”