Team owners are beginning to take many varied roles within their V8 Supercars teams, and Mother Energy Drinks Racing’s Steven Webb is no exception.
The Sydney property developer, V8 team owner and father of race-winning driver Jonathon has put in place the makings of a strong team, recently employing renowned English team manager Bruce Jenkins.
With the team management structure almost complete, Webb Senior will now step back from his day-to-day roles within the organisation.
Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley caught up with Webb to discuss his new role and how he sees his team moving forward …
SPEEDCAFE: With the implementation of team manager Bruce Jenkins coming on board, you say that you have stepped back in your running of the team …
STEVEN WEBB: We had a part time manager in Andy McElrea on a part-time basis. He did a sensation job for us, but we were finding that myself, Jonathon and his wife Coby were spending a bit too much time involved in the day-to-day running and not focussing on the driving side.
We’ve had Bruce on board for seven or eight weeks and it has allowed Jonathon a chance to get back into his regular regime of exercising, training and being a race car driver.
Bruce is doing a sensational job with the team, working with the group, and it was a way of consolidating.
SPEEDCAFE: Even though your involvement was only a small amount beforehand, it was obviously taking up too much of your own time …
WEBB: It was a problem that it was a part-time involvement, a bit like Andy’s involvement. Mine was part-time, Jonathon was part-time. We had no cohesion in a way forward.
What we really needed was someone at the top to drive the team, consolidate the direction we were heading in and just making it all happen. That’s what Bruce does. He has the experience, not only from his days at McLaren Formula One, but running some of the top European F3 teams. He has been there and done that. He is more senior than a lot of people up and down pit lane and has helped bring it all together for us. I’m over the moon with what he’s been able to do and what he has been able to put together to date.
SPEEDCAFE: Team owners up and down pit lane have a wide range of roles. Given you have sorted the management, what’s your position now?
WEBB: I’m trying to create a scenario where at the end of the day, I can just come along to the motor racing and enjoy it. We’re still a little bit away from that. We have a very good commercial manager in John Dunlop. I’m working with John, putting together the commercial side of the operation, now that we have the team management side of it under control. Once we get that in place, which will probably be another 12 months, I’ll probably be able to withdraw and know that it is in capable hands.
In the long-term, my overall intention, I guess, is to have a role like Roland Dane. He has the right people in place, go away and enjoy his motorsport, knowing that the team is in good hands and it will be successful.
SPEEDCAFE: Motorsport is obviously a small part of what you do professionally. What are your other roles?
WEBB: I’ve been many varied things in my life, but currently you could say that I’m a property developer. I work with commercial and industry properties in Sydney for development. With the economic times the way they are at the moment, things have been a bit quiet, so getting a new team up and running is probably, from a timing view point, very opportune.
SPEEDCAFE: Lets talk about next year. Will you be running the same Ford chassis? Could we see something new? Maybe a Holden?
WEBB: I really have no comment on that at the moment. It’s the silly season that we’re going through at this stage of the year. There’s changes mooted up and down pitlane, and I guess we’re as changable and as flexible as the rest of the teams.
SPEEDCAFE: I’ve spoken to you about this before – you don’t see the future of your operation as a one car team. Do you still want more?
WEBB: That’s right, we don’t believe that one car is the way to go. Jonathon as a driver suffers by not having a team-mate. We’re still running on data basically that was generated last year. We’re not really moving forward. We really need a two-car operation – both on a commercial basis to make it work, and for our driver to maximise what he can achieve on the track.
SPEEDCAFE: Could that happen as early as next year?
WEBB: It’s on my wish list. Whatever we can bring forward, we will, but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world.