Roland Dane: Penske assault will take time

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 01/10/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

Triple Eight's Roland Dane says he has no doubt Roger Penske will be a successful V8 Supercars team owner but has warned the speed at which he gets to the front of the grid will depend partly on the level he tries to manage the operation by remote control from his US base.

And Dane has invoked his own team and factory-backed rival Ford Performance Racing as examples of how to do it right and how to do it wrong.

"Until we really see the shape of it (DJR Team Penske) I am not sure where they will play short term," Dane told v8supercars.com.au. "But long term they will absolutely be right there."

Penske was recently confirmed as the 51 per cent majority owner of the new entity, DJR Team Penske, with Dick Johnson owning the minority share.

Marcos Ambrose will return to Australia after nine years racing NASCAR in the USA to pilot the team's #17 Ford Falcon, but the second driver and details of commercial backing is yet to be announced.

Dane said whatever the teething issues were that DJR Team Penske might encounter he had no doubt how competitive the organisation will be.

"Penske comes with an unbelievable pedigree that the rest of us can really only dream about and we are happy to have them here," he said.

"I am sure they will over a period of time be a force that we have to put our best foot forward against in order to be able to win against them."

Penske, a billionaire who runs a transport and automotive-based business empire, is a dominant figure in US motor racing, scoring success in every category into which he has ventured. Australian Will Power won this year's IndyCar championship for Penske Racing.

Penske is the first international owner to join V8 Supercars since Dane took over Briggs Motorsport in 2003 to establish Triple Eight Race Engineering in Australia. The same year British automotive and engineering business Prodrive set up factory-backed Ford Performance Racing.

Since then Triple Eight has emerged as the dominant force in the V8 Supercars Championship, claiming five drivers' titles with Jamie Whincup and five Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000s. FPR has yet to win the Championship and won its first Bathurst last season.

A significant initial difference between Triple Eight and FPR structurally was that Irish-born Dane based himself locally and recruited locally. By contrast, FPR's ultimate boss, Briton David Richards, was based in the UK and the team's management included several imported staff.

Richards sold FPR to Australian businessman and motorsport identities Rod Nash and Rusty French before the 2013 season.

"It took us some time to get our head around the V8 Supercar Championship 11 years ago and it will take any organisation time," Dane said.

"You also have the element of distance which I believe is a critical factor why Triple Eight has done better over the last decade than for instance, FPR, which was run from the UK, whereas Triple Eight was run from here.

"There are all sorts of elements that come into play and how you are going to string those together. This is a people business and you have got to have good people in the right place at the right time and armed with the right budgets.

"And if you don't, you can join in but you won't win."

Penske, who has always had a deep involvement in his numerous racing enterprises, confirmed during the recent media teleconference he would be making business trips to Australia regularly, but also was clear that local personnel, including Johnson, would be crucial to the management process.

"I've had my schedule arranged where I'll spend probably a week every quarter in Australia, and what I'll try to do is time those when we have races and we can utilise that for connecting with the team," Penske explained.

"But obviously I have a huge schedule over here which I'm committed to, but I think it's our people, and again, that's where Dick Johnson comes in, because he's got to carry the partnership in Australia."

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric also confirmed two new senior staff are to join the structure: Penske veteran Jeff Swartwout will become team manager while Australian Nick Hughes, who has worked in F1 and NASCAR, will be technical director.

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