Penske credits hard graft for DJRTP’s breakthrough

Tom Howard

Tuesday 11th April, 2017 - 4:00am

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DJR Team Penske celebrates a breakthrough one-two finish at Symmons Plains

Roger Penske has hailed the two years of hard work which helped DJR Team Penske deliver a breakthrough one-two finish at the Tyrepower Tasmania Super Sprint.

The legendary boss of the illustrious Penske racing organisation was keeping a close eye on proceedings at Symmons Plains while running his IndyCar team at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

After a challenging two seasons since expanding into Australia’s premier series, Penske labelled Sunday’s triumph for Fabian Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin as a memorable win for his renowned motor racing operation.

“It is not the Indy 500 or Daytona, but it is certainly one of the most important recent wins for our organisation,” Penske told Speedcafe.com.

“It was a very special day.”

The American billionaire bought a 51 percent stake in the Queensland operation in 2014 to create the DJR Team Penske alliance.

Initially fielding a one-car outfit, the new look team lured double Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose back to the category for 2015, before the Tasmanian elected to step away from the drive after just two events.

The team expanded to two cars in 2016 as Coulthard joined Ambrose’s replacement Scott Pye, with the pair both netting two podiums apiece during the campaign.

However, this season the squad has stepped up to be a major contender with the highly-rated Scott McLaughlin and former Triple Eight technical guru Ludo Lacroix added to the ranks.

“It has been two long years of hard work by our people,” said Penske of his team’s journey.

“We came to Supercars and we knew it was going to be tough as there are some great teams and competitors.

“We came there with an empty bag of knowledge and it has been a learning curve for us.

“We came here with Marcos (Ambrose), we had high expectations but when he said it was more competitive than he thought, it was a pretty good signal that we should put the caution light on and reassess ourselves.

“We said ‘let’s just do our job and put the numbers on the board when we can,’ and we have done that. It’s about the continuity.

“If we can still build and attract more good people to the team then I think we can be a major competitor for the series.

“People talk about how we have got more capital but I don’t want to talk about that. It is about the people we have put together on this team that has made the difference.

“Certainly with Fabian (Coulthard) and (Scott) McLaughlin, they are pushing each other which is amazing and Ludo coming onboard has been a plus, but I think the whole team has gelled.

“It is a long season and we have had some good luck here in the beginning, but we are not declaring any kind of victory at all.”

Penske has been particularly impressed by the way his drivers Coulthard and McLaughlin have gelled.

Coulthard said following the race win on Sunday that he felt the arrival of the highly-rated 23-year-old has lifted his game.

“We are excited and I take my hat off to Coulthard, he has really got his game up,” said Penske.

“Scott will tell you that, but the great thing is that both of them respect each other.”

While impressed by the way his team has grown over the last two years, Penske believes the squad is slowly becoming a threat to the long-standing benchmark operation Triple Eight.

“Roland and Triple Eight is the benchmark and there are other teams out there,” Penske added.

“He is the guy that you want to see what he is doing. We are a long way off being in his rear view mirror but we are around the corner.”