Counting on Coulthard

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 07/11/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Roger Penske says Fabian Coulthard is a proven winner and the right fit for his V8 Supercars team.

The motorsport icon - who is in New Zealand for this weekend's ITM 500 Auckland and the launch of his new facility - yesterday reaffirmed his faith in the category and explained why Coulthard was the man to lead DJR Team Penske in 2015.

The team recently announced it would expand to two cars for the 2016 Championship and confirmed Coulthard, 33, alongside current driver Scott Pye.

"I always thought he was a brother of the other Coulthard," Penske joked, in reference to former Formula One driver David Coulthard.

"Number one - we want a driver that's been able to win, he's been able to demonstrate that," he continued.

"I think that the skills he has communicating with the engineering side is excellent, certainly meeting him as a person I felt he would fit into our organisation.

"Now, he didn't have a contract - and we're not coming in and trying to buy people out of contracts, we wanted to see who was available - and he certainly fit the bill.

"As a winner he'll bring some value to the team."

Penske said he had spoken with team co-owner Dick Johnson and 2015 recruit Marcos Ambrose to determine the best choice for the team and the Kiwi came up trumps.

Given Penske's business interests in New Zealand, having a local ambassador can't hurt either.

"We've had lots of conversations with a number of people and he seemed to be the one that came to the top.

"Someone might say why this person or the other - but quite honestly, you look at this group of drivers there's not a lot of them available. Same thing in NASCAR ... so many of them have very good jobs, why would they want to take a risk coming over with us when we're not running at the top yet? We've only had eight months in the business."

After announcing in September 2014 he would enter into V8 Supercars, Penske again confirmed his commitment to the Championship yesterday, saying it was not a short-term project.

Full focus is on winning and while Penske is aiming for the podium he was hesitant to say he expected wins next year.

"I think he's got good confidence," Penske said of Coulthard.

"He seems committed. He's thrown his lot with us now and he was in a good car - hell, he won the first race I saw my first race was in Adelaide, so we're excited about that."

Funnily enough, two of Coulthard's standout performances this season have been with Penske trackside, with his and Brad Jones Racing's first Clipsal 500 victory and a 24th-to-third drive in Perth that saw Coulthard and engineer Phil Keed work together to put the Freightliner Commodore on the podium.

Keed will switch with Coulthard to DJR Team Penske next season.

Coulthard was looking forward to seeing Penske this weekend and was hopeful of a good showing at his home track, where he is yet to take a win.

"Obviously it's a big thing for me at the moment establishing a relationship with Roger and things like that," Coulthard said earlier this week.

"But I'm always on show - you're only as good as your last race, so for me it's all about proving myself at every weekend I go to and I'm looking forward to putting on a show [this weekend]."

Coulthard finished eighth and 10th in yesterday's practice sessions.

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