CLAYTON, Victoria, Australia — Team Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike — Robert Cianflone/ Getty Images AsiaPac photo –
Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s Preview of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship! We move into our final week of team previews with a look at the Holden Racing Team headed into the 2015 season!
Holden Racing Team
No. 2 – Garth Tander, Mobil 1 / SP Tools / Monster Energy Holden Commodore VF
No. 22 – James Courtney, Mobil 1 / SP Tools / Monster Energy Holden Commodore VF
2014 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 3rd
2014 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: The 1-2 for Garth and James in the second race at Townsville
Though their place in the standings does not reflect it, 2014 was without question an improvement over 2013 for the Holden Racing Team.
They had an epic weekend in Townsville, where they claimed a win and four out of the six available podiums that weekend (after going 1-2 in the 2013 Sunday race there). That weekend set the tone for an improved second half of the 2014 season at HRT, where Garth Tander recorded three runner-up finishes and a third-place finish and James Courtney picked up an individual first, second, and third (in fairness, one of Tander’s runner-ups was about 100 feet away from being a victory before he ran out of fuel coming to the line at Phillip Island and Scott McLaughlin snatched it out of Tander’s grasp).
In the end, there was an increase in podiums in 2014 between both Garth Tander and James Courtney (16 vs. 12 combined podiums in 2013), and a jump in the final team points standings (to third in 2014, from fifth).
Some credit for this improvement has to go in part to Team Managing Director Adrian Burgess. Burgess was brought to HRT at the end of 2013 from a similar role at Red Bull Racing Australia, with the intention of bringing HRT back to the top of the podium and make it the No. 1 team in the series (as it was in the latter half of the 2000s).
The most important thing that Burgess brought to HRT was the knowledge he possessed of the winning culture RBRA has cultivated over the past few seasons. That culture is something intangible that RBRA has held over the rest of the series and is a large part of why they have been the dominant force in V8 Supercars as of late. With Burgess’ addition to HRT, traces of that culture were evident as the season progress and the team’s results improved.
But for their jump in performance, there was still one problem that was left unsolved; the Holden Racing Team still finished behind Ford Performance Racing in the points standings. The gap to FPR was 416 points in the end, and is almost entirely explainable by the extra DNFs (and one DNS) that HRT recorded last season. Garth Tander’s crash in final practice at Bathurst hurt their run for for second in the team points — his car was so damaged that he was unable to start the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Given that the Bathurst 1000 gives at least 57 points to a driver and team, and that there were two extra DNFs beyond the two that FPR had in 2014, there is a high likelihood that HRT and FPR would have gone to the final round at Homebush nearly level on points if HRT had been able to cut down on the retirements. Though the five DNF/DNSs is a vast improvement over 2013’s ten, cutting that number down is the most important step standing directly in front of HRT in order for them to make the jump past FPR.
That being said, there is one major factor that should play into HRT’s favor, especially vs. FPR (now Prodrive Racing Australia for 2015): financial support. While Ford is exiting V8 Supercars and reducing its funding of its flagship V8 Supercars team, HRT has added a major sponsor in Monster Energy (in addition to existing major partners SP Tools and Mobil 1).
Though the arrival of Monster Energy has brought with it a striking matte black livery that has been universally well-received across the V8 Supercars world, the more important thing to note is that the arrival of Monster Energy as a sponsor also adds more money to HRT. With that extra money, and another year for Adrian Burgess to manage the team in the way he sees fit, this might be the year where HRT establishes itself as the No. 2 team in all of V8 Supercars.
For more information on the Holden Racing Team, visit their website at http://www.hrt.com.au/.
For more information on V8 Supercars, visit http://www.v8supercars.com.au/.