Walkinshaw Andretti United has announced the exit of Co-Team Principal Mathew Nilsson, effective immediately.
According to a team statement, “The decision was made to streamline the business to ensure its health and sustainability now, and into the future.”
Bruce Stewart therefore becomes the outright Team Principal and will manage the business’s operations, while Technical Director Carl Faux will oversee the technical functions of the race team.
WAU’s three Directors, namely Ryan Walkinshaw, Michael Andretti, and Zak Brown, each paid tribute to Nilsson while admitting, amid a backdrop of coronavirus, that the viability of the team was at the heart of the decision.
“Like every responsible sporting organisation, ensuring the viability of our team, now and into the future, has been the key focus of ours over the last few months, which is why we have reached the decision we have,” explained Walkinshaw.
“Tough decisions must be made in the current climate.
“2020 has changed the global sporting landscape of the world, with every reputable organisation forecasting and restructuring for the backend of the year and beyond, and we are no different.
“We’ve agreed now so that Mathew has the best opportunity to find a new role, whether that be in Supercars or beyond.
“I personally want to thank Mathew for his contribution to our team for a very long period of time, I have really enjoyed working with him, and feel he will be an asset to any business in the future.”
Andretti said, “2020 has meant that we, like many other teams, have had to look at our structures and make the necessary decisions required to ensure the sustainability long-term, which is paramount.
“While difficult decisions have to be made, it’s the responsible thing to do not only for our team and fans, but the sport itself.
“Thank you to Mathew, and we wish him all the best with his future endeavours.”
Brown added, “With current circumstances, the decision was necessary to ensure the health and viability of the team for the remainder of 2020 and well into the future.
“Having a commercially minded team leader in Bruce, is essential, now more than ever.
“We all wish Mathew all the best with his future, and appreciate his efforts with the Team.”
Nilsson was elevated to an Interim Team Principal role in May 2017 following the departure of Adrian Burgess after a poor start to that season.
He had previously worked as a race engineer for the squad in its guise as the Holden Racing Team, and also for the Clayton-supplied HSV Dealer Team, with which he guided Garth Tander to the V8 Supercars Championship title in 2007.
The man known as ‘Techo’ managed the non-HRT side of the garage when Walkinshaw ran four cars in 2015 (including the #47 entry and Team 18’s customer car) before being tasked with running its GT programme which began in 2016 and engineering one of Erebus Motorsport’s entries in its first year as a Holden team.
Nilsson assumed the Team Principal role, in which he was joined by Stewart, after the team fell into a horror patch of results in 2017 which saw James Courtney quip that his car may indeed have been “possessed”.
While form dipped last year after glimpses of a recovery in 2018, WAU had made a promising start to 2020 with an all-new (full-time) driver line-up including the arrival of Chaz Mostert and his engineer, Adam De Borre.
WAU’s statement, although not referring specifically to COVID-19, suggests strongly that it was the damage caused by the pandemic which has accounted for Nilsson.