One of next year’s Volvos already has skin on it, and while happy with the progress the Fujitsu Racing GRM team, team boss Garry Rogers is mindful of how much there is ahead of them.
“That’s a start,” Rogers told v8supercars.com.au. “It’s a long road ahead of us yet. We’ve kept the momentum ahead of us with our cars, but with the blokes I’ve got, I’d expect no less.”
It was announced in June Fujitsu Racing GRM would make the changeover from Holden to Volvo for the 2014 season, to a positive response from those within the industry and fans.
And the outfit has wasted no time preparing the cars in discussion with Volvo’s Swedish performance arm Polestar – staff have already visited from Sweden, and GRM members will head over there in a few weeks to work on the changeover. Rogers describes it as a solid relationship, and has been amazed at how much has been achieved remotely.
“Today the activities you can create by the electronic media are really quite amazing – I personally am not a big fan of it, but I’ve been proven wrong by the people around me because they’re doing a great job using that,” Rogers said.
“You can’t hop on a plane and fly backwards and forwards every week, that’s just not practical, but the information you can exchange via those systems is very beneficial. It’s very foreign to them, as it is to us and the engine program will be difficult, but I’m sure we’ll manage it.”
He feels time is the one thing not on their side – but prefers to have plenty to do than too little. It keeps you sharp.
“The thing that’s made it not that difficult is the chassis are identical,” Rogers said.
“Clearly there’s no difference in that. So really, we already had a chassis half built and we didn’t need to change much – we did little miniscule things but it wasn’t too hard to get to that.
“(To get to) the end will be an enormous amount of work and now we really need to knuckle down and make sure we’ve got the people, the facility and the space. We’ve got the cars we’re racing and the workforce looking after them, plus the additional people and equipment required for those additional cars, so space is a little bit of a problem.
“But we’ll get around that… If we keep working it will work; if we sit here and sook about it, it won’t.
“It’s August. It won’t be long and it’ll be September. It won’t be long and it’ll be March and we’ll be at Adelaide. Time is not on our side, time is our only demon (for want of a better word).”
Something Fujitsu Racing GRM has been able to achieve that other teams that made a manufacturer change have not, is to continue to win races.
Scott McLaughlin drove to victory in Race 23 at the last V8 Supercars event, the Coates Hire Ipswich 360 at Queensland Raceway, and looked on track for another podium before a tyre failure in Race 24.
Rogers emphasised that while the changeover activity was unfolding behind the scenes, the team this year was racing Holdens – and his relationship with Holden has remained intact, as he kept them informed of his talks with Volvo every step of the way.
Given the amount of attention the Volvo announcement garnered, there have been enquiries to support the team in terms of sponsorship, and major sponsor Fujitsu is still on board.
“People are always snipping around – (especially) when you get results like we have in the last 18 months.
“But the Volvo announcement created an additional level of interest, so we’re dealing with that. And Volvo have their own marketing plans and things they’re doing through their own vehicle distribution here – so I’ve got to say it’s been a really big positive.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Holden, but it was time to do something. I’ve got 32 people who rely on my decisions so they can eat, and feed and clothe their children every week, so I can’t wait for someone in an ivory tower to say, ‘We see how they’re going, perhaps we should help a bit more’.”
Fujitsu GRM has won two Championship races this year, as well as one at the not-for-points Australian Grand Prix. Drivers McLaughlin and Alex Premat sit 11th and 17th in the Championship.