Penske: Only winners need apply

16 Oct 2014
No-one can buy a seat alongside Ambrose and rookies aren't wanted either.

Only potential race winners are wanted for the seat alongside Marcos Ambrose in the second DJR Team Penske Ford Falcon FG X in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship.

That's the message from Penske Racing boss Tim Cindric, who attended the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 last weekend as the legendary American racing organisation prepares for its entry into V8 Supercars next year.

Despite almost certainly lacking any form of factory backing in 2015 from Ford, Cindric made it clear that drivers would not be able to buy the seat, nor would the team be willing to hire an inexperienced and therefore cheap driver.

"We are not here to run a racing school, we are here to win races," declared Cindric. "We are here to do the best we can for our partners and our teams so we are here to hire the best driver that is available."

It is understood DJR Team Penske would like to be able to confirm its second driver at the final round of the 2014 Championship, the Sydney NRMA 500 at Sydney Olympic Park, which will be attended by both Ambrose and team owner Roger Penske.

However, the need to sort the team's financial structure could take precedence over a driver decision and mean it might not be made until later in the year. At this stage there are no confirmed financial partners for the new entity, apart from Penske's own expanding Australian transport interests.

But Cindric made it clear that the need to have a quality driver alongside Ambrose rather than a seat-filler was vital.

"Roger has never had a pay driver and we won't have a pay driver," Cindric said.

"We feel that in racing at the top level you need to have cars that you feel can win and the most important thing for us is being in a situation where we feel like there is a potential to win.

"So that means the driver for us should really come on his own merits. And that has always been the case for us and it will be that way next year."


The current driver lineup at Dick Johnson Racing comprises young gun Scott Pye - who is managed by Red Bull team owner Roland Dane - and David Wall, who has the financial support of major V8 Supercars backer Wilson Security.

It is understood that Pye has supporters within the current DJR operation who would like him retained.

Cindric, however, wasn't prepared to shed light on the prospects of the current driver lineup.

"I am here this weekend to understand those guys a bit more," he said. "I didn't spend a lot of time with them at Homebush (when he visited the final round of the 2013 championship), that wasn't my mission. When I was there (DJR) in June, I got to know them a little bit.

"But here I get to see them a bit more in probably the most difficult situation they will be in all year. That's good to watch.

"I came here with a very open mind relative to Scott Pye or David Wall or any of those other guys who are out there. I am silently observing all those different things."

If DJR Team Penske does elect to look beyond Pye and Wall - who have both also been mentioned in relation to the second seat at Volvo Polestar Racing in 2015 - there are few obviously credentialed V8 Supercars race winners who would be able to contractually able to join the new team.

One theoretical possibility is Jason Bright, who is yet to do a deal for 2015 with Brad Jones Racing, although that is regarded as a formality. Another short term solution could be Steven Johnson, who is fit and keen and has an obvious emotional tie to the new team.

Things could get a whole lot more interesting on the driver front for 2016 as a whole slew of drivers including Red Bull's Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes come out of contract at the end of next season.

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