Edwards: Three cars an "interesting challenge" for Triple Eight
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars
Prodrive Racing (Australia) boss Tim Edwards was shocked when key competitor Roland Dane announced Triple Eight would expand to three cars for 2016, in order to field an additional entry for Shane van Gisbergen.
Managing a four-car team with big name drivers, including Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert, and Will Davison until 2013, Edwards knows just how tough it is to keep it all in check - he believes the step up could be tricky for the Champion team.
"He's been able to sit back and watch us try and manage multiple competitive drivers - we've seen in the past [David] Reynolds, Will and Frosty and co. - I think he's going to have an interesting challenge," Edwards told v8supercars.com.au.
"Best laid plans - it doesn't matter how hard you work at it, once the competitive juices start flowing the drivers, the engineers, it's hard to have multiple competitive cars.
"At least in our case we've got runs on the board. We've been doing it a few years and I'd like to thank we've learnt a lot the last few years. And he'll be learning from January 1st how hard it is to deal with multiple competitive cars."
It will not surprise fans to hear Dane believes he's in a position to manage the situation better than his counterparts. After all, he has run his team to be the most dominant in recent years, having won six of the last seven drivers Championships with Jamie Whincup behind the wheel.
"What we've got is something we can actually hit a few goals [with] on the commercial front, and that'll enable us to do a much better job than some of the other people who have tried to run three or four cars," he said over the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint weekend.
"I have resisted it, to be honest, because I think ... you've got to take into account whether you can do a good job commercially. Unless you can do a good job commercially you end up stretching yourself to thin."
The lure of signing Shane van Gisbergen - who at 25 years of age can easily be classed as one of the next generation of stars, despite having raced in the Championship since 2008 - was too good to pass up. And Dane couldn't let fan favourite and long-time title contender Craig Lowndes go either.
"It's very exciting for us, to be honest, to be able to put in place the next three years to the end of '18 with Jamie, Shane and then also to be able to work out a plan for Craig as well, so we could be greedy and have three of the best guys in the category.
"I think it's important Craig is allowed to find his own level over the next few years," Dane said.
"We'll take it in bite-size chunks, two years or longer, for him to be able to decide in due course when he thinks it's time to stop.
"I know he won't want to carry on if he's uncompetitive, but he can be competitive for a while longer and we want to keep him at Triple Eight."
Lowndes earned all three ARMOR ALL Pole Positions across the weekend in Tasmania and won two races, showing impressive car speed at the Symmons Plains circuit.
He will line up to attempt taking his 100th V8 Supercars/Australian Touring Car Championship win at the next event in Perth and has told v8supercars.com.au that the title is well within reach this year, currently sitting third and 23 points off his leading teammate.
"I'm confident we'll be right up there at the end of the year and I hope we'll be fighting for the championship," Lowndes said.
"It's something definitely on the focus but at the moment, trying to think one step at a time."