‘We can win the championship’

  • 19/05/2016
  • By Bruce Newton
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Garry Rogers Motorsport has its best-ever shot at winning a Supercars championship if team members aren’t distracted by the speculation about their own future and that of lead driver Scotty McLaughlin.

That’s the message from Barry Rogers, the son and right-hand man of legendary team owner Garry, who has urged the close-knit crew to grasp an opportunity that may never be repeated.

Heading into the Woodstock Winton SuperSprint at GRM’s test track, McLaughlin lies third in the drivers’ championship and is the only multiple winner in 2016 in his Wilson Security Volvo S60 in the nine races conducted so far this year.

“We believe with Scott there is an opportunity to achieve something this year that none of us may ever achieve again,” Rogers told supercars.com.

The team has been rocked by Volvo’s recent confirmation it will not be continuing its backing of GRM beyond 2016, even declaring it wants the S60 racers sent back to Sweden.

That’s come on top of constant speculation about McLaughlin’s future. Last week Rogers confirmed to supercars.com the team had put contract renewal talks with the young star on hold, while this week McLaughlin admitted contact from DJR Team Penske, the squad widely expected to win his services from next year.

Rogers has urged team members to focus on the job of winning the team’s first-ever touring car/Supercars championship and leave the big picture to be sorted out by him and his father.

“We could have a very, very successful season and we don’t want the distraction of driver talk and certainly now the Volvo talk undoing what could be one of GRM’s most memorable seasons.

“So I said ‘let’s not let all this speculation and carry-on affect us as a team and Scott as an individual so when he goes out on to the race track the performance isn’t affected. Let’s all do the best we possibly can’.”

That message was delivered by Rogers alongside his father at a team meeting on the Friday of the Perth SuperSprint two weeks ago soon after the Volvo news broke.

During that meeting the Rogers’ emphatically made a commitment to the team members that they would ensure GRM was on the grid in the 2017 VASC.

“I said ‘forget about the big picture. I know that’s difficult because your mates will be asking, your girlfriend will be asking, your wives will be asking. All the other people down pitlane, other teams, will want to know what is going on,” Rogers revealed.

“’You will get sick of it eventually and it does wear you down, but if you can just focus on what we are doing at the racetrack the other stuff will take care of itself’.”

He said he and his father had been pleased by the way the team, which is one of the most stable in pitlane with many long-term employees, has embraced that message.

“Things are easier said than done sometimes, but the guys have been great,” Rogers said. “The attitude has been fantastic. We are a strong together-type team, but this has really welded us together. There is camaraderie between us – a sense of having a task to achieve.

“There is certainly something we can achieve this year. We are only at round five of a 15 round championship but we are at the pointy end where we want to be and we have given ourselves an opportunity to achieve something.

“Now we have got to really knuckle down and focus on what we can do to win races and perform well at races.”

McLaughlin and Wilson Security GRM have staged a dramatic return to form in 2016 after a 2015 blighted by engine reliability issues. While there have still been engine dramas, supplier Polestar does appear to have resolved most of the problems.

But Rogers cited three other prominent factors contributing to the team’s return to form; better pit work, refinements to car performance and the arrival of James Moffat as the team’s second driver.

“Improving our pit stops was certainly one of our focuses over the summer,” Rogers confirmed. “Cowboy (team manger Dean Cowling) has been through a lot of vision with our stops from last year and it is simple things like the driver not quite stopping on the marks ever time.

“There are a whole lot of little things like that. So it’s not one thing but a whole group of things that have added up to making us one of the stronger teams in the pits rather than a mid-packer.”

Rogers said it was the same story with car improvement – a series of small changes adding up to a performance gain.

“We have been tinkering with a whole lot of little things. We have gone from a mechanical roll bar system to a hydraulic roll-bar system, which most people probably run now.

“The drivers have mentioned they can make more minute adjustments rather than going from one click to the next click so that is certainly a positive.

“So a lot of little things have added up to something reasonable.”

Moffat is the fastest team-mate McLaughlin has had in his four years at GRM and that has also helped performance, Rogers said.

“Scott can see him coming and that’s lifted Scott a little bit too I reckon, because Moff is the most competitive against him.”

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The Kelly gang

19/05/2016
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