Steven Richards will end a six-year stint in the Carrera Cup Australia next season as his eponymous team focuses on growing its BMW GT program.
Richards set up his own Porsche team following the end of his full-time Supercars career in 2011, subsequently expanding to run two cars for himself and customer James Bergmuller.
This year also saw Steven Richards Motorsport field a BMW M6 in Australian GT under a deal with the manufacturer to be the local parts distributor for the cars.
Securing a one-off deal to run a second M6 for Tony Longhurst in February’s Bathurst 12 Hour, Richards hopes to add more customer entries to his squad for the 2017 Australian GT season.
Richards says that transition away from Carrera Cup is about what is best for the SRM business over the next five years.
“When we came into Carrera Cup it was about what do I do post-V8 Supercars, because I still wanted to drive,” Richards told Speedcafe.com.
“We managed to pull all that together and it’s worked fantastically for six years.
“Now it’s as much about what happens to Steve Richards Motorsport moving forwards.
“Essentially we’re a business that prepares and maintains race cars for customers, so where is the best place to do that?
“That association with BMW this year and moving into the GT realm… it was always in the back of the mind that if year one went well, we’d transition the business.
“I believe there’s an opportunity here that if we can get the performance where it needs to be, we can replicate what MPC (Melbourne Performance Centre) are doing (with Audi) and offer a different option.
“From a commercial perspective as well, to do anything with one particular sponsor for six years, it was time to refresh it.
“They (major sponsor Laser Electrical) haven’t committed yet, but it’s part of the thinking behind it.”
Richards will retain ownership of his Carrera Cup car and hopes that it will be leased to another team for 2017.
The most likely home for it is existing Porsche squad Ash Seward Motorsport, which shares workshop space with SRM in Melbourne.
Richards will meanwhile continue his Pirtek Enduro Cup Supercars duties next season, lining up with Triple Eight for the fourth consecutive year.
While the Carrera Cup is seen by some as higher intensity racing than that in the Pro-Am GT format, Richards is convinced stepping out of the Porsche won’t hurt his Enduro Cup preparation.
“That was one of the things that I was a bit concerned about at the beginning of this year when I was thinking ahead to the transition,” admitted Richards.
“Will GT give me the same match fitness for the Supercars races?
“But the reality is that we do double the mileage through the year than what we do in the Carrera Cup car.
“I’m absolutely convinced that it will have no negative impact on my ability to drive a Supercar.”
SRM has spent the last two days at Mount Panorama running Longhurst, Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall and Marco Wittmann in Longhurst’s M6 at Challenge Bathurst.
The team plans to also have its own entry at the track for a private BMW test on Monday, giving Mark Winterbottom his first laps in the car ahead of the February 3-5 event.