Betty: I should've done it differently

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Erebus Motorsport team owner Betty Klimenko has admitted she should've done things differently when entering the V8 Supercars Championship for the 2013 season.

While the team has earned two race wins since transforming into Erebus - running Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs - the group has been through some tough times in the years.

The switch from Stone Brothers Racing Fords to Mercs for the first year of Car of the Future was a mammoth task and looking back now, Klimenko believes she would have been better off running the Falcon as she found her feet.

"If I could turn back the hands of time ... I would've probably stuck with Ford for a year," Klimenko said on Inside Supercars this week.

"To get used to V8s, how they run, what the whole thing's about, instead of just jumping into a manufacturer at the time they wanted new manufacturers. I would've done a lot of things differently - but that's hindsight."

Fans have taken an immediate liking to colourful owner Klimenko, who is often signing as many autographs as her drivers. But it hasn't been an easy road for her, having to downsize from three to two cars, run without manufacturer support and battle for sponsorship. Throw in some messy driver dealings with Shane van Gisbergen and Lee Holdsworth - and it has been a tough battle to learn the ropes.

This year, the team has gone through a restructure behind the scenes, with Klimenko adding esteemed engineer Campbell Little to bolster and guide Erebus.

Now, Klimenko believes she is "getting the right people around me" and working to realistic expectations. She says she'll know she's cracked V8 Supercars "whenresults become consistent".

"That's what we don't have at the moment, consistency," she said.

"But we'll get there. I say it all the time ... this is our third year. Our engine is three years old. I'm still working in gen one Car of the Future. I'm still trying to perfect that, and I started out like I had already worked everything out, and that was wrong, that was my fault.

"Now we are going on the right path, I'm going down and getting the right people around me and sharing the load instead of thinking I can take it on myself."

Along with her management group, which also includes Ryan Maddison and Barry Ryan, Klimenko has been pushing to find and keep sponsors. Her longevity and commitment has been questioned, but Klimenko assures her fans she is in the V8 Supercars pit lane for the long haul.

"I'm so committed that I probably should be committed - but you can't do that anymore, my husband did look into it!" she said.

"I believe in it, I believe in our group, our cars and I believe one day those cars will be amazing cars."

While Erebus has not been the only team to switch manufacturers since the Car of the Future introduction, with Nissan entering with the Kelly brothers and Volvo with Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2014, she doesn't compare herself to those competitors.

Perhaps because they were established groups, and have manufacturer support, whereas she came in as a new team owner and boss with a lot to learn when she took over SBR.

"I look back at the history of V8s and no cars did well in their first five years - statistically I should not have won anything yet," she said.

"I think because we're a certain type of team they judge us against teams that are higher up the ladder, which they shouldn't be doing.

"They should be judging us against teams that are two and a half years old. And we're the only ones that are two and a half years old because everyone else is using engines that have been through much more development than us, so we're the babies."

Klimenko said she was working to a five-year plan, hoping by then the team would operate as a business and not require her to make ends meet by chipping in her own money.

"Five years from now - I'll be annoying Roland [Dane, Red Bull boss]," she predicted.

"I'll be next door going, turn the doof-doof down and I'll be playing the rock and roll."

Last year at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, brothers Will and Alex Davison finished fourth, just shy of the podium. Will won his first race since joining Erebus at Perth earlier this year.

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