Former Erebus Motorsport team manager David Stuart has predicted a strong future for the team as he steps into his new role as the V8 Supercars Sporting and Technical Director today.
Stuart, who lived through the hectic and emotional transition from Stone Brothers Racing to Erebus in 2012-13, also says he is emotional to be leaving one challenge but excited to take up the one that lays ahead.
"For me it was about the next step in my own life and career and when you are the team manager of a high performing V8 Supercars team it's an all consuming job," he told v8supercars.com.au. "You can only maintain that effort for so long."
Stuart was at the heart of the effort that built three Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG V8 Supercars in 109 days after team owner Betty Klimenko got the green light for the campaign from AMG and Mercedes-Benz in September 2012.
Despite various issues and setbacks, Erebus broke through for its first win at Winton last April with Lee Holdsworth. The team is now in control of its own development program and Stuart is convinced it will soon bear fruit.
"Right now Erebus is working on a couple of things," he said. "It's no secret we have been working a lot on engine development and that's where we have focussed a lot of emphasis at the moment. When that comes on line and it is ready as a package then that will be another step forward in performance for the team.
"We are at that sort-of eighth to 12th mark at the moment and on a good day we can qualify up in the top four to six. But pretty consistently around that eight to 12.With a little bit more engine and refinement to the chassis I think the team will be up the front end.
"I am looking forward to watching the team from the sidelines and their progress."
Stuart, who has a long motorsport history on both two and four wheels, said the Erebus experience was undoubtedly the highlight of his career, with several moments standing out in particular.
"The first time the cars ran on track for our very first test was just a massive sigh of relief from everybody, that we actually made that 109 day deadline to get that done.
"To qualify for the first time in the top 10 and race in the top 10 in Darwin last year was super exciting. But to get a win was just great and it wasn't like we inherited it. In that particular race on that day we were the best car. And that for everybody at Erebus is a massive stamp of satisfaction."
"I will be working with the (V8 Supercars) technical team and just making sure we can produce a technical spec that is effective, cost effective but also is something that is police-able and the teams can work to," he said.
"The technical department has done a really good job with Car of the Future and the maximum horsepower figure, but as the category moves forward and looks at future directions, we need to make sure we are in front of the game and able to give everyone a strong guideline and a strong operations manual."
Stuart said the experience he had gained with Erebus homologating the E63 for V8 Supercars racing would aid him significantly in his new role.
"Coming from a team ... we might see where there is a pitfall or where V8 Supercars could have improved things," Stuart said. "Obviously when you get on the other side of the fence and understand a little more of the process and procedure involved in bringing Car of the Future to the category that may balance up your opinion.
"I think the most important thing is whatever is the next generation car, or however we go racing in three or four years time that we have a very good solid foundation that we can present to a new manufacturer and the current manufacturers."