An astonishing maiden victory for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport by Nick Percat in a wild and diabolically wet Clipsal 500 yesterday could prove crucial as the small team searches for much-needed commercial backing.
SP Tools is sponsoring the two-car Holden Commodore team for the opening two races of the season in Adelaide and at the March 17-20 Formula One Australian Grand Prix, but team owner Lucas Dumbrell admits if more funding isn’t found soon he will be topping up the budget from his own bank account.
“I will have to dig in my own pocket and my pockets aren’t that deep,” he told v8supercars.com.
“Two car teams are expensive … I doubt many people could afford to fund it out of their own pocket.
“I don’t have the funding to fund 13 races but I see that as a very unlikely scenario that I won’t get any other sponsor this year, especially considering the events of this weekend.”
Dumbrell, the youngest team owner in V8 Supercars, established LDM in 2010 only a year after he became a quadriplegic in a Formula Ford race at the age of 19.
He is the brother of Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner and minority Triple Eight Race Engineering team owner Paul Dumbrell and the son of automotive entrepreneur, motorsport enthusiast and former racer Garry Dumbrell.
LDM has had a tough maturation process, but in the last couple of years has been on a steadier path thanks to the arrival of the Bathurst winner Percat, Phil Munday’s Repair Management Australia as a sponsor, veteran motorsport engineer Barry Hay as team manager and important support from Holden orchestrated by sponsorship boss Simon McNamara.
But Munday has reduced his commitment this year and 2015 driver Tim Blanchard and family-owned sponsor CoolDrive have moved to Brad Jones Racing, only being replaced by Kiwi Andre Heimgartner at the last minute.
Which makes yesterday's first win – and podium for that matter – for LDM a vital achievement. Dumbrell said he would approach SP Tools about extending their sponsorship and pursue other commercial opportunities.
“It’s pretty cool. It (a win) just opens up avenues. It is a lot easier to talk to people when that happens,” he said.
Whatever happens commercially, Dumbrell made it clear LDM would complete the season.
“We will be there,” he said. “Of course we are going to be there in some way shape or form. We will not let the show down.
“We would just like to have all the things that help deliver these kind of results.”
Dumbrell paid tribute to 27-year old Percat, who made the shift to his team last year after being left on the sidelines by Walkinshaw Racing late in 2014 after a sponsorship shortfall.
“It’s an awesome achievement to win,” Dumbrell said. “It comes down to the quality of the driver in treacherous conditions. We saw champions make mistakes and go spinning round.
“I can’t complement him enough. I knew when I signed him that he could do it. He has done such a good job the last 18 months.”
Dumbrell also highlighted the contribution of engineer Chris Stuckey, who made the call early in the atrocious conditions to ensure the minimum mandatory 140 litre fuel dump was completed as quickly as possible. That ensured Percat could sprint to the line without having to pit for fuel when the race re-started for a final four-lap dash.
“I can’t compliment Chris enough. He and Nick work really well together and today he called a great strategy.
“We were all a bit unsure but he called it and his strategy won the race.”
Dumbrell also reflected on the long and often hard road the decision to establish his team had delivered, after his accident ended his dream of racing V8 Supercars himself.
“I was quite young when I started and I knew very little about business … and I think have learned quite a bit over the last few years. I have also had some very valuable people come onboard and I think I am quite astute about who is good and who is bad,” he said.
“Like any business it is about people and I think I now have a really good bunch of people.
“By no means am I perfect, or Nick, or anyone in the team. But we have all worked bloody hard over the last 18 months. We have put in massive hours to get together some great cars and that really helped Nick win.”