Two-car cap for Penske Supercars effort

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 11/05/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Team Penske president Tim Cindric says the American giant has no plans to expand beyond its current two-car Supercars effort, either in-house or with customer teams.

The now Shell V-Power Racing branded squad cut back from two cars to one when Penske took majority control in 2015, before upsizing again to two cars the following year.

Key rivals Triple Eight and Prodrive run three and four cars respectively, while the former also has close ties with several customers.

Cindric, who oversees Penske’s four-car IndyCar effort and two-car NASCAR program, says logistical factors mean two is the right number for its Supercars involvement.

“Two cars is where we’ll stay. I don’t see that changing for us,” Cindric told Supercars.com.

“It’s different to how we look at things in NASCAR. We’re at two and have been at three before and could be three again in the future if it’s the right situation.

“In this category, in my mind it’s either two or four because you get into sharing booms and garages and partnerships.

“You never say never, but we experienced it as a one-car team, being an odd-man out (sharing with Tekno in 2015).

“I think with having a race team half a world away, going beyond two cars wouldn’t be our best move.”

Tim Cindric with Fabian Coulthard in Perth Tim Cindric with Fabian Coulthard in Perth

Penske’s Supercars foray initially included customer assistance from Prodrive that carried over from DJR’s previous arrangement before being discontinued last year.

The two teams have since gone their own way on development with the FG X Falcons, but have collaborated on feasibility studies for a Gen2 Mustang.

Adding customers of its own as an income stream has not been the Penske way in other categories and, according the Cindric, won’t be in Supercars either.

While its NASCAR effort includes a technical relationship with customer Wood Brothers Racing, that program is designed primarily to blood young driver Ryan Blaney.

The approach sets it apart from traditional Supercars heavyweights that have capitalised on success by selling technology throughout the field.

Walkinshaw built a large customer base while at the peak of its powers, while Triple Eight is the current powerhouse and will have even greater foothold with the Gen2 Commodore.

“We’re not here to run a racing business. We’re here to race cars,” said Cindric.

“Racing has never been an income stream for us. We try and operate on a break-even situation and that to us is a success.

“From an income perspective, we’re trying to sell trucks, engines and generator units in this country and using the race team to do that.

“We have 100s of customers at the track every weekend (in corporate suites) and the deals we do at the track are much bigger than any racing budget.

Shell V-Power Racing will stick to a two-car model Shell V-Power Racing will stick to a two-car model

“In racing, any minute you take your eye away to service or produce things (for customers) your priority isn’t 100 percent focussed on making your team better.

“If we had customers, we’d look at that as a responsibility where customers have to come first. That’s how we operate in business. In racing that’s very hard to do.

“Fortunately we haven’t been in a position to have pay drivers and we haven’t been in a position to have customers with our race teams.”

Cindric however stressed that the team is open to supplying non-performance related items throughout the category if it improves efficiency or safety.

Notably, the team has already offered its leg protection tray to rival teams through manufacturer LSM Advanced Composites.

Cindric meanwhile insists that Penske is not against selling old chassis into the Dunlop Super2 Series, despite none of its cars having appeared in the class to date.

Although selling a car would create a customer relationship of sorts, releasing chassis into the second tier is seen as a different proposition to a full blown customer program.

“Once our depth gets to the point where we’re comfortable then we’ll sell a car, no problem,” he said.

“People have said there’s a policy on that but there’s not. I’d just rather have another car there and be prepared for an unexpected situation.

“All we try to avoid (with not having customers) is we don’t want to be in a position where we have to choose if our priority is to produce parts for our cars or someone else’s cars.

“It’s just not how we’re positioned.”

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