THE NEWLY formed Walkinshaw Andretti United race team will embark on a global search for a new manufacturer partner that could end the former Walkinshaw Racing team’s 26 years of racing Holden Commodores in V8 Supercars.
In the quest to return the former Holden Racing Team outfit to Supercars championship-winning status, the company will leverage some of the sharpest technical brains from NASCAR, Formula E and IndyCar – as well as the home grown talent that has made it one of the most successful teams in the V8 Supercar era.
But one of the directors in the bold new partnership, Ryan Walkinshaw, said the team would consider ditching the Holden Commodores that have been a fixture of the squad since the inception of the team formed by his father, the late Tom Walkinshaw, in 1990.
Speaking in Bathurst at the announcement of the multi-million-dollar three-way partnership between Walkinshaw Racing, Andretti Autosport and United Autosports, Walkinshaw confirmed the team was open to campaigning cars other than Commodores.
“Just like every other team up and down pitlane … we’ll be looking and having discussions with other manufacturers to see if there’s other opportunities that exist in the future that we currently don’t have on the plate,” he told Wheels.
For 2018, though, the team is planning to campaign the new ZB Commodore running the existing 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine.
Walkinshaw said Holden was an obvious partner for 2019 and beyond but that other brands would be approached in the quest to position the team to beat key rivals such as the Triple Eight team (which now runs the Holden Racing Team) and US/Australian giant DJR Team Penske.
“I’ve got a long and very valuable list of relationships with manufacturers,” said Walkinshaw, adding that the addition of Michael Andretti would fling open doors.
“Michael has got, on the racing side, probably got an even bigger list of relationships with manufacturers. Between the two of us we hope that we’ll be able to have some good discussions and we’ll see where that takes us.”
Walkinshaw said any deal with a new manufacturer would not affect the close relationship Walkinshaw has with Holden through its contract to produce HSVs.
“In the same way that Holden pulling our factory funding from the Holden Racing Team at the end of last year hasn’t had an impact on our road car side of the business us going to another manufacturer wouldn’t have an impact either.”