KNOXFIELD, Victoria, Australia — official release — V8SC photo —
Tony D’Alberto’s full-time return to the V8 Supercars Championship could be announced this week, just days after claiming his first ever podium finish in the category.
Tony’s father Al confirmed to v8supercars.com.au that negotiations for backing were in their final stages and looking good.
“We are very close to signing a deal,” he said. “It’s looking promising but you never know with these things, so we don’t want to jinx it by saying it’s a done deal or anything like that. But if we can make it happen then we will be back in the category next year.”
“It’s great for us because the sport is in our blood. I don’t know if there is any common-sense to it, but it’s a passion that keeps you going.”
The D’Albertos closed their family-owned team at the end of the 2013 championship and this year Tony has kept his hand in the series by co-driving in the Pirtek Enduro Cup with Tim Slade in the Supercheap Auto Holden Commodore VF.
They finished a dramatic third in last Saturday’s 300 km Race 31 at the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600, despite Slade’s severe bout of heat exhaustion, and followed up with a fine fourth on Sunday.
The D’Albertos are not looking to establish their own operation again, rather they want to link with an established team that can provide Tony with an opportunity to claim more podium finishes.
“It is such a complex sport so as a small team you cannot cover every base,” explained Al D’Alberto. “So it makes more sense for us to outsource the running of the team and to focus purely on the commercial side of the team.”
“I have worked with Tony since he was nine-years old and I know what he is capable of, and having your own family team whether he was directly involved with running it or not, he always took on-board the issues that the team had. So that didn’t allow him to shine as well as he could have.”
“So the structure going forward is he will just be driving the car, he won’t get involved in any of the team politics, he just gets in and does his job. And I think you will find he will start to show what he is really capable of. I can’t see why he can’t be on the podium on a very regular basis.”
Both Tekno Autosports and Brad Jones Racing have been linked with D’Alberto’s return. Tekno dropped back from two cars to one for Shane van Gisbergen in 2014 and owner Jonathon Webb and team manager Steve Hallam have both supported the concept of becoming a two car team once more – provided the deal is right.
“There are rumours there and we have spoken to the D’Albertos, but they are certainly not the only ones,” said Webb. “There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, it’s not that easy just to throw another car out there. There are licenses and everything else. We will make that decision sooner rather than later. For us to do it right it’s got to happen really soon.”
Hallam said there were important benefits provided by running two cars.
“Having a teammate means you are immediately cross-referencing and have an opportunity to try different things on different cars and make progress at a greater rate.”
Intriguingly, Al D’Alberto said the structure he was developing would be something not seen before in V8 Supercars racing.
“We are working on what I call the soul of the team,” he said. “The team is actually going to stand for something next year. If you look at our team in the past it has probably performed well for the size of the team but it hasn’t really stood for anything.”
“So we are developing that theme and that is what I am going to concentrate on and makes sure we develop what I call a soul for the team.”