Talks improve Erebus/Mercedes relationship
The working relationship between Erebus Motorsport and Mercedes Benz Australia is improving as the date of the team’s V8 Supercars debut draws nearer, according to Erebus team owner Betty Klimenko.
The association between Erebus and the local arm of the car manufacturer got off to a rocky start mid last year when the team’s deal with AMG’s Customer Sports department in Germany to develop a V8 Supercars entry was blocked by MBA on the grounds that the category does not fit the company’s “brand positioning”.
While the deal was only given the green light by MBA following pressure from the company’s head office in Germany, the team has remained quietly hopeful of eventually winning genuine support from the brand.
Erebus has since proven highly diligent in hiding the look of its already track-tested car prior to MBA’s official Australian reveal of the 2013 E63 AMG model on which it is based, despite the road car having already been launched in other markets.
Amid the race car’s continued development, Klimenko wrote a note to the public on her Facebook page yesterday revealing that recent dialogue between Erebus and MBA has provided a step in the right direction for her team.
“In the last couple of weeks they (MBA) have been in contact with me, and we have been talking,” she wrote.
“Much to their credit, they have listened to me (and) we have now got to a good place.
“I explained that together, we can do more, for the sport and brand.
“They agreed and we now have a relationship.
“It may take time, but they are coming to the party, and that is all I ever wanted.”
One of the first steps towards a more unified effort will start at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour this weekend, where the two companies will have their corporate suites operating alongside one another as Erebus campaigns its two SLS GT3 cars.
MBA corporate communications manager David McCarthy confirmed that the company will host as many as 40 guests at Bathurst this weekend, but while he said there would be a level of co-mingling between clients, there was no change in the racing arrangements between the pair.
“At the Bathurst 12 Hour, we’re going to be hosting some customers in a hospitality suite, and Erebus is doing the same in the suite next door, so there’ll be some cross over between our parties there,” McCarthy told Speedcafe.com.
“(But) Erebus is a ‘customer sports’ team. We encourage them and support there where we can, but it is a customer sports team. It’s not a factory team in any way.
“There’s certainly no ill feeling or bad blood. We enjoy a good relationship with Erebus. I’d even say, a very good relationship.”
McCarthy said that Klimenko’s rebel style is misunderstood and she deserves more credit for what she is achieving.
“What Betty is doing for the sport is fantastic,” he said.
“Some new blood is always good. I think a lot of people don’t understand her passion for the sport, and her understanding. She is incredibly passionate, and she understands what it’s about.
“The relationship is where we both want it to be, and where it needs to be. We talk to them, and they speak with us.”
Erebus’ first E63 AMG V8 Supercar is currently undergoing a homologation process in Melbourne following a recent three-day aerodynamic test against the Ford Falcon FG, Holden Commodore VF and Nissan Altima L33 at East Sale.
The car will be revealed to the public at a launch in Sydney on February 14.