Spotlight: Team Sydney CEO Kobe Webb

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 29/03/2020
  • By Connor O'Brien

When Kobe Webb met her future husband, she had not even the slightest understanding of motorsport.

Growing up in Sydney as one of four daughters who won the battle for the television remote more often than not, Webb could not have imagined one day becoming CEO of a Supercars team.

It was only by chance, while studying a university degree in industrial design and engineering, that she met budding racer Jonathon Webb in 2004.

“He was in the northwest suburbs and I lived maybe 10 minutes away from him,” Kobe told Supercars.com, noting that her field of expertise later shifted to marketing, sponsorship and business.

“We met through a friend when I was studying at university; I was working on an engineering project and a friend referred Jon to me

“I guess that was our first meet, our first date… 16 years later here we are.”

Jonathon at the time was competing in the Carrera Cup Australia series, following in the footsteps of his father Steve who raced in the previous Porsche Cup category.

“He took me away one weekend, we went to Bathurst and he raced in the Carrera Cup. I kind of was exposed to racing in a very grand scheme,” said Kobe.

“I thought if this is what racing is, it’s kind of cool.”

She watched closely as Jonathon progressed to the Dunlop Super2 Series and then on to the main game after taking out the second-tier title in 2009.

By the end of 2010, he was a Supercars race winner – in the dramatic wet Homebush race that secured a maiden championship for Dick Johnson Racing stablemate James Courtney –  and together they were setting up Tekno Autosports as a standalone team.

“We recruited our first employee on the Sunday of Homebush and he’s still a part of the TEKNO family today: Mick Shortus, he’s our transport and tyre tech. He’s an absolute champion,” Kobe said.

The now 34-year-old was installed as the CEO, also looking after the Tekno Group’s Performance road car division of the business.

Just weeks after their wedding in January 2011, they were headed to Abu Dhabi for their newly sovereign team’s first race.

Racing has increasingly become a way of life.

“The sport has definitely consumed me,” Kobe said.

“When I began to understand the competition, I’m quite competitive in nature, there are a lot of facets that became entertaining.

“And the mechanical and engineering aspects of the sport, the complexities are where my interests lie.”

While Jonathon is more the figurehead for the race team, Kobe is responsible for the business’ commercial and strategic aspects.

Nine years as Tekno Autosports brought highlights such as finishing second in the 2014 championship with Shane van Gisbergen, and winning both the Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000 in ’16 (the latter with Webb and Will Davison).

“The 12 Hour, Jonathon rang me on the podium saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m walking to the top step’,” Kobe recalled.

“That was surreal and then to find myself at the 1000, I remember waking Jon up because he was asleep, there were a few laps to the flag, and it didn’t feel real that it could potentially happen again, that he’d be walking to the top step.”

Out of trying campaigns in ’18 and ’19 came a new opportunity in Team Sydney, taking the Webbs back to their roots – once borders re-open to allow a long-awaited move south from the Gold Coast.

“The Team Sydney concept came to us towards mid-last year,” mother-of-two Kobe explained.

“Jonathon and I being Sydney locals could see a lot of growth aspects and a lot of opportunity for the sport as well, to bring in new commercial avenues, new staff avenues and also support western Sydney.

“And to be the only Supercar team located within a circuit [Sydney Motorsport Park], we’re very accessible so supporters can see us, can get up close and personal with us.”

Throughout the process, there has been criticism at times for the perception of Jonathon, in particular, being closed off to the media and public.

Kobe moved to set the record straight about the real ‘Jono’.

“He is very honest, hardworking. He’s put his heart into building this brand,” she said.

“I guess the thing that people don’t realise is that this isn’t just work for us, it’s our life, being a husband and wife who work alongside each other in the office and at the race track and then bring it home and try not to discuss it at the dinner table. 

“We’re dedicated and we are looking long-term; this is a 15-year project for us, for our family.

“So we can appear reserved when it comes to a lot… but I think we’re protective of our brand partners, our staff and obviously our family along the way, so we try to only speak when we have very positive things to say.”

With their second full race meeting under their new moniker still some time away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Team Sydney will in the meantime be represented by drivers Chris Pither and Alex Davison in the Supercars All Stars Eseries.

The online competition will begin on April 8.

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