Roger Penske has underlined his belief that Marcos Ambrose will prove a competitive force in his second V8 Supercars career, revealing that DJR Team Penske holds a two-year contract with the Australian.
Penske addressed media at today’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide, which marks his first visit to a V8 Supercars event since taking a 51 percent stake in the new DJRTP joint venture.
The American racing and business giant arrived at the circuit to see Ambrose qualify 24th in the 25 car field for both of Saturday’s races.
Admitting that Team Penske’s reputation is on the line with its V8 Supercars effort, Penske stressed a need for patience during what he terms a learning year for both team and driver.
“With the commitment that these other teams and drivers have, you just can’t walk in (and win),” noted Penske when asked of his faith in Ambrose.
Penske outlined modest short-term goals for the team as the American side of the operation learns the intricacies of the championship.
“We’d like to be in the top half by the end of the season,” he said.
“I know that Marcos, his learning curve is still like this (steep) and we as a team are doing exactly the same thing.
“I don’t want people leaving here today thinking that we are thinking we’ll be on the podium every weekend. That’s simply not going to be the case.
“But we want to be a first class team. We’re here to compete and I can tell you that we will put the tools and the people together to try and be a winner over the next couple of years.”
“This isn’t a short term stay I can tell you that,” continued Penske.
“If you look at our history, over the years each series we’ve gotten into we’ve stayed there.
“We’ve had good success obviously this past weekend at Daytona, but that’s because we started with a group of guys that wanted to win.
“We don’t have anything special. We have the same car everyone else does and it isn’t money that you come to racing with. I’ve seen for 50 years that’s not what it takes.
“It takes the people and that’s what we’re going to try and develop here over the next several years as we try and compete in this sport.”
Whether the team returns to a two-car format next year is not expected to be decided for several months.
The squad is operating without factory backing; a situation that appears unlikely to change before further clarity is provided on V8 Supercars 2017 rule package.
Penske hinted at the possibility of fielding wildcards at this year’s endurance races, but won’t go back to two cars full-time unless it makes business sense.
“I think that before we run two cars, we need to understand the magnitude of the challenge and the competitive landscape here in V8 Supercars,” he said.
“To me we can focus more on one driver and one team. Remember this is melding two organisations together.
“I said to Dick (Johnson), ‘as much as we want to run two, we’ll have endurance races where we can have two cars’.
“But at this particular time it’s one car. It’s funded properly with a good driver and we’re building a great team.
“It’s about the way we do business. We didn’t come here with a steamroller, we came here with a car and a driver to try and compete fairly and squarely.
“Our reputation is on the line and that’s what I like about it. Nobody gives you these wins. You’ve got to earn it. And that’s what we’re going to try and do here.”