Tim, the team came away with a pole and podium from the opening Endurance Cup event of the year. How did you see the weekend?
I think any team that came away from the weekend with a qualifying race win, pole position and a spot on the podium at a tough event like the Sandown 500 would be happy and while we are happy, we know we should’ve done a better job overall.
Will and Steve Owen’s podium was well-deserved given they nursed a transmission issue for the majority of the race. How did you see their performance and that of fellow title-contender Mark Winterbottom and co-driver Steve Richards?
Will and Steve were obviously quick and if not for having to manage their transmission trouble they would’ve challenged higher up but third was the best they could do given their situation. Frosty and Richo are one of the established combinations and while a sticky wheelnut at the last stop hurt their chances of challenging for the win, they are old hands and know the good points they banked will be important for Frosty come Homebush.
There was a lot of negative reaction in the media about the double-stack under the Lap 35 safety car. What is your take?
It is easy for outside observers to assume we’ve make the wrong call in the heat of battle or based off what someone says on TV, but if Frosty hadn’t had his wheel nut issue we would’ve had two cars in the top four and probably a much tighter battle for the lead. If that was the case nobody would’ve thought twice about our strategy. Aside from the double-stack, which is a common occurrence in our category, Will’s chances were hurt by his technical issues so we can hypothesise all day what might’ve happened, much like Frosty’s slow pit stop, but the fact is without those issues it would’ve been a very different race. Those things happened, nobody is immune, and the team that had the least issues on the day won. It’s as simple as that really.
What is your view on some of the more sensationalist reports from the weekend?
The media and sporting teams will always have a love/hate relationship as we both need each other but sometimes people go too far and go beyond the bounds of professionalism. We freely acknowledge the weekend didn’t pan out the way we wanted but by no means was it a disaster. The way certain sections of the apparent specialist press reported the weekend would make anyone think we are about to implode. It would be laughable if what was being reported wasn’t so grubby and salacious. We are a professional race team and have professional people working for us. We expect the people that work alongside us and that enjoy effectively unrestricted access to our team, to act in the same way. Sadly that doesn’t seem possible for some organisations and desperation and inaccuracy apparently outweigh the requirement for solid journalism.
It was great for all Ford fans to have the Ford Australia President, Bob Graziano trackside at Sandown. Did he enjoy his visit?
Anytime the head of Ford comes to the track is a special occasion. The whole team enjoys having Bob in the garage and he is a real race fan, in fact, he had a day off and brought some mates along so he enjoyed just being part of the masses. He saw the passion of the fans and the emotion they put into our team and the Ford brand and that is why Ford Australia is a key part of V8 Supercars and our team. Everyone is aware we are in discussions with them about extending our relationship and we will announce something when the occasion calls for it.
What is the mood like inside the team heading into the important Bathurst 1000 & Gold Coast 600 double?
The mood is a positive one as everyone is confident and believes in what they are doing. Mark and Will have outscored every other driver in the field since Austin way back in mid-May. It proves that despite some reports we haven’t had a ‘disastrous’ weekend for quite a while. In fact, it is a tremendous feat in year one of Car of the Future and validates what we are doing. It also highlights the strength of those two drivers. They are so evenly matched and are always battling at the front, yet they work closely together, work well with the team and the engineering group to push everything forward. While we still have four very important events to come, our performances over the last few months show just how well the team is running. We have a lot of passion and drive within our business and work very hard on culture. Outsiders can have their view but everyone working with the team supports each other through the typical highs and lows of motorsport. There can only be one winner each race so having a strong group that supports each other no matter what provides a very motivating atmosphere.
On the weekend it was also announced that Dave Reynolds will remain with the team until at least the end of 2015.
Yes, we have extended his deal a further two years so both he and The Bottle-O will be together on the #55 until at least the end of 2015 which provides great commercial and engineering stability. Dave is quick and we are working with him to improve his consistency so we see a lot of potential in his continual progression. His deal kicks off what I believe will be a very positive few weeks of news for FPR fans so watch this space I guess...