WAU driver plans unaffected by sponsor split

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 23/09/2019
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Walkinshaw Andretti United boss Ryan Walkinshaw says the recent collapse of major sponsor MEGA Limited won’t impact his team’s 2020 driver plans.

The Holden squad had a multi-year deal with MEGA, but terminated the agreement after the company went into receivership last month.

Long-time team backer Mobil 1 stepped up to full sponsorship at late notice for Pukekohe, while the team began the process of sorting the rest of 2019 and beyond.

Walkinshaw said at Pukekohe the collapse was unforeseen, stressing the team had done more due diligence than on “any other sponsor we've ever done due diligence on”.

He described the situation as “the second worst thing that can happen” to a team outside of a driver or crew member being injured, but is adamant it won’t affect the squad’s 2020 plans.

“It's not changed our driver plans for next year whatsoever,” he said.

WAU is a key part of the current silly season, with long-time star James Courtney confirmed to be leaving the squad after nine seasons and Scott Pye no certainty to continue.

Current Tickford Racing spearhead Chaz Mostert is expected to land at WAU for 2020, but is yet to be officially confirmed.

Although not commenting directly on Mostert, Walkinshaw is teasing an exciting signing.

“We'll be making announcements in the coming months, and when we do we're very confident that our fans and partners and even maybe you guys [the media] might be quite excited about it,” said Walkinshaw.

Plans for the team’s second entry are less clear, with Walkinshaw not ruling out retaining Pye, who joined the team at the start of 2017 on a three-year deal.

“Scott's someone we're talking to,” he said. “We haven't made a call on that seat. I'm not going to go into any details.”

Asked if an international is part of the mix, he pointed to the team’s equity partners in Zak Brown’s United Autosports and Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport.

“We see ourselves as a global team and we market ourselves locally and globally and that opens up the doors with Zak in Europe and Michael in the US for opportunities,” he said.

Brit Ash Sutton, who won the British Touring Car Championship in 2017 with now WAU technical chief Carl Faux, undertook a test day in one of the team’s Holdens last year.

The 25-year-old has been mooted as a candidate for a full-time drive, but is thought more likely to remain in Europe.

WAU will field a wildcard for IndyCar drivers Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe in next month’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, alongside its two regular entries.

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