As the team enjoy a mandatory four-week shutdown, team CEO Barry Ryan reflects on the year and looks ahead to the opportunities to come…
Last year when asked to rank the season from an A to E, you gave it an A. How would you rank 2019?
BR:I would give the team effort an A – it was a good team effort under difficult circumstances. The Mustang came out of the box really strong and the COG tests and the aero tests proved that the start of the year was tough for the Commodore teams because we weren’t equal. I think we fought well and we got to a point where we challenged the Mustang probably more than any other Holden team so I’d give the team an A. Towards the end of the year we were still going ok, but Triple 8 got a bit of a jump on us because they developed the new aero package so they knew a lot more than us and we had to learn it.
What has been the best moment from the season and what has been the most challenging?
BR: Best moment that stands out to me is Anton’s podium at Phillip Island. That’s when they had done the COG changes, but the Mustang still had a clear aero advantage. Anton was basically the ‘pony amongst the Mustangs’. He was third and got a podium with two Mustangs in front of him and four Mustangs behind him and the other Holdens were nowhere.
Most challenging – what Penske did at Bathurst. Witnessing the team doing what they did and giving themselves such a clear advantage at the biggest race of the year and you’re just standing in the garage watching this team cheat, thinking ‘how can this happen?’ That was challenging mentally.
What was your proudest moment with the team this year?
BR:Again, I’d say Anton at PI. 100%. It was good to see him just stick it up the Mustangs at that point and dominate the other Holden teams and even show Dave the way that weekend. That was really good to see.
Antonfinished 14thin the Championship and probably should have finished higher but for bad luck. What is your take on Anton’s season?
BR:He made massive gains. Anton challenges himself more than most drivers and to get two podiums in one year is more than a lot of the more experienced drivers got. Towards the end of the year he was outqualifying Dave as much as Dave was outqualifying him and that’s what we need. We need two drivers who 100% push each other.
It’s always easier to deal with triumphs than adversity. How have you and the team dealt with the challenges from 2019 and what have you learned from them this year to take into next year?
BR: I think at the start of the year we learned if you are missing something, like the aero efficiency at the start of the year, don’t try to go too far out of the square to try to fix it. You are chasing something you can’t find and you end up chasing your tail. So, we probably learned that sometimes you just have to settle for fifth if it’s as good as you can do. So, get fifth and don’t try to get first then actually go backwards and get tenth. That’s what we taught ourselves earlier in the year. Also, keeping the two cars working together is better. It does make a big difference when the two engineers and two drivers work together.
Erebus recentlylaunched the Creating Pathways program at the Academy and also did some great work with Image Racing. How pleasing is to see the Academy Program build and have the successes it had this year?
BR: We’ve been tinkering away with the Erebus Academy for a couple of years now but we stepped it up this year with the ‘Karts to Cars’ program, Dave Sera, and the Creating Pathways program. Then obviously supporting Image Racing with Jordan Boys and Adam Marjoram and trying to make sure those young guys get the best support from a main game team. Its good to see. Earlier this month at Norwell it was great to see some kids straight out of the Go Karts wanting to race in a different category and make the step up and see how they learn during a day. I really like doing this stuff and its why we keep doing it to make sure we have the future looked after with drivers.
It’s been a big year and now time for a break. What will you be doing over the off season?
BR: Hanging out with the family. We are going to Echuca on a houseboat for a few days so that will be really good.
What about goals for the team in 2020?
BR: We have to have both drivers in the Top 10 at the end of the year. It doesn’t sound like a big target, but it is. They both should be fighting for wins next year. Trying to win the Championship was our goal in our fifth year and this is our fifth year in Melbourne so we’ll be trying to win every race and if we win every race then we’ll win the Championship. That’s what we have to realistically aim for. We’re not just going to aim for Top 10’s, history shows that to win the Championship you have to finish around position four on average so that’s what we have to do.