In an extensive interview on Inside Supercars, Adrian Burgess has declared 2017 possibly the Walkinshaw group's “biggest year ever” while detailing the strategy moving forward.
Results have fallen away since the domination of Triple Eight over the past decade, but Burgess and Ryan Walkinshaw are committed to forging a strong future in a changing landscape, which includes being abandoned by Holden as the brand’s official team moving forward.
“It’s clear we’re going racing, we’re not going to wilt, we’re not going to fall over – Walkinshaw Racing has been racing for a long time, Tom created and built a huge empire that’s won championships,” Burgess said on Inside Supercars last night.
“For us, the first thing was to decide on the driver line-up and obviously that’s been highly publicised.
“When we came out with the announcement that we were moving away from Garth (Tander) to Scotty (Pye) … we needed to show the market, the team, the staff, the sponsors, everybody that we were committed. So both those guys are locked in for three years.
"Commercially we equally needed to be able to go to market and start talking about who we’re going to be and what we’re going to be – at the moment those plans are still developing.
“We’re in the marketplace working very hard on securing the budgets and things for next year, long term, it’s an opportunity for Walkinshaw to re-establish its name … We’ve got some new facilities coming online – the wider group of Walkinshaw is expanding, we’ve been acquiring other businesses, so our portfolio as the bigger group is growing, and next year we’re on-track for our biggest year ever.”
Tander, 39, has won 54 championship races in a Holden and just lined up for his 250th Supercars round on the Gold Coast – but Burgess believes it was time the team reinvented itself and future-proofed with one young driver, given James Courtney is 36 years old.
“We’ll miss Garth … he has brought a lot of value to our team, but we need to future proof ourselves,” Burgess said.
“Garth would be into his 40s if we renewed him and James would be the higher end of the 30s – you’ve got Cheese (Shane van Gisbergen), Scotty McLaughlin, Scotty Pye, you’ve got all these young kids coming through, we need to make sure we don’t come in a bit too old and not realise it.
“The easiest thing would’ve been just to carry on with the same driver line-up, but as a business through so much change it was probably the right time to bring in a different driver as well and keep JC honest going forwards.”
Publicly the timing of the announcement was awkward as Tander had just won the Wilson Security Sandown 500, breaking an HRT win-drought going back to the first event of the season.
And while Tander had just received a new chassis at the event prior, Sydney Motorsport Park – immediately yielding two top 10 finishes – Burgess does not believe shifting out of the ‘crashed’ chassis from 2014 has made the difference.
“I don’t really buy into the problem with the chassis, that chassis was the same chassis that won the Pirtek Cup last year in GT and Luffy’s hands,” he said.
“You measure everything as much as you can and our race teams are built around technology, we’ve … got a lot of apparatus to know the chassis’ right.
“We went through that process; we were already in the program to bring another car online. When we did bring it online it definitely coincided with an upturn in GT’s results, so for me if it’s part car, part confidence to the driver putting on a new pair of trousers in the morning, or just feeling a little bit happier about life, then I don’t really mind and I don’t care.
“We’ll build more cars on a regular basis, but it definitely turned him around, he definitely had more confidence – he’s been working very well with Alex (Somerset) his engineer and to give Garth credit he stepped up and maybe part of that is that he’s out there in the market looking for his future and driving hard for his future.”