Dick Johnson Racing is working on shoring up its commercial arrangements until at least the end of the financial year.
The team only just made the pre-season test by the skin of its teeth after finalising sponsorship from Wilson Security and ADVAM for its Falcon entries raced by Tim Blanchard and Kiwi signing Jonny Reid.
The arrangements only extend to the Melbourne Grand Prix but DJR general manager Steven Johnson says talks are taking place for a possible extension.
“At the moment the sponsorship was only for Adelaide and the Grand Prix but we are in discussions with John McMellan (Wilson CEO and a key player at ADVAM) to possibly extend it to the end of the financial year,” Johnson told Speedcafe.com
“They have been happy with what we have been able to do and achieve in such a short period of time with regards to branding and giving their customers a good experience at Clipsal.”
DJR’s campaign kicked off under difficult circumstances at the Clipsal 500. Blanchard finished 18th and 15th and Reid failed to finish both races after turning 53 and 52 of the 78 laps in each.
“We just need more track time now to get the boys used to everything and a bit of a test day and improve the performance,” Johnson said.
“We’ve got the information from FPR because we’ve got an association with them so it won’t be long before we get the boys up the front.”
Johnson confirmed that the longest running professional race team in Australia is taking steps to secure its future.
“It’s a matter now of making sure we get back up to speed and gaining that commercial backing that we need and lock it in for a number of years so that we’ve got the future of DJR assured,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who has stood aside from driving duties from the team to focus on leading its administration, says the team is also in talks with other companies outside Wilson and ADVAM.
ADVAM is a leading provider of integrated global card solutions for private enterprise and government agencies, and backed Brad Jones Racing’s Adelaide Dunlop Series entry in a one-off deal. BJR also has a full-season deal with Wilson Security for its David Wall-driven V8 Supercars Championship entry.
“We are talking to other companies and we’ve made it clear to Wilson and ADVAM that we are looking around for that major (backer),” he said.
“Whoever it is … we may well come to an agreement with John McMellan but if we don’t whoever it’s going to be are going to have the full commitment of DJR to achieve their goals and help them grow their business.
“We still have a good relationship with Jim Beam and my hope is that we have them back involved at some stage.
“I’d love to get Norton back involvement and we still have a good relationship with them. It was just all circumstances the way it all happened (the sponsor departing DJR and taking on two cars at Nissan Motorsport) and it wasn’t great circumstances for us.
“We know that we can do things a little bit differently.”
Johnson admitted that DJR had lost direction commercially in the past but he insists structural changes within the team will make it work more efficiently and effectively.
“We’ve lost sight of the fact that 95 per cent of the sponsors want to deal with Dick Johnson,” he said.
“We need to get back in and get our hands dirty and take the reins ourselves again.”
“In the past if there was something wrong we were never made aware of it.”