Team Penske president Tim Cindric expects there’ll be a few surprises in store for American rival Andretti Autosport when it enters Supercars next season.
Andretti recently announced that it has taken an equity stake in Mobil 1 HSV Racing in a deal that also sees buy-in from British sportscar squad United Autosports.
Starting in 2018, Andretti’s arrival will come three years after Team Penske embarked on a similar Supercars venture with Dick Johnson Racing.
Penske had a troubled start to its time in Australia, going two years without a victory before hitting its straps in a big way this season.
Cindric says he’s keen to learn from how Andretti goes about integrating with Walkinshaw, but feels Penske’s rival is underestimating how difficult it will be to apply its resources.
Owners Michael Andretti and Ryan Walkinshaw have talked up the ability for the American squad's engineering firepower to move the Supercars effort forward after years in the wilderness.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, because it’s very difficult, even for us having businesses over here, to race cars half a world away,” Cindric told Supercars.com.
“I think our engagement, how many races you attend isn’t the right gauge, because you’re pretty ineffective in terms of what you can contribute.
“I’ve had more trips here for non-race weekends this year than events.
“It’ll be interesting to see how that evolves and how their approach is because I think we’ll learn something from how they integrate.
“But I think they’ll continue to see how competitive it is and how restrictive it is. I think it’s much more restrictive than what they anticipate.
Andretti has bought into the Walkinshaw team
“I read where there’s a lot of discussion about cross-pollinating technical resources [from Andretti to Walkinshaw].
“We’ve found that technical resources… it’s more about the approach and continuing to evolve the people and executing on the weekends.
“But from a technical perspective, virtually all the categories that we’re involved in, this is much more restrictive and it’s the same for testing as well.”
Andretti pointed to Penske’s involvement as a key motivation to join Supercars, triggering suggestions that other US motor racing giants such as Chip Ganassi could also follow.
Cindric believes the reaction to Andretti’s involvement will be most telling, stressing that Penske’s move was motivated by business, not racing.
Starting in 2013, Penske has quickly established a major foothold in the Australian commercial vehicle and power systems markets, which it promotes through its race team.
“It’s hard to answer that question until we see how a pure racing team actually approaches this,” he said when asked if he thinks others from the US will follow Andretti in.
“It’s very different for us. Without our businesses we probably wouldn’t have chosen to come here. How that plays out, I think they will be a better guage of that.
“We look at it so differently. We’re here for so many different reason outside of motorsport, which we use to promote our businesses and engage our customers into what we do.
“I think it’ll be the first case of an American motorsport team, to see if there’s a true engagement of the team or it’s an ownership perspective.
“I’m not quite clear on what their approach is going to be, but I think it’ll be interesting to watch.”