Story explains DJR openness to strategic partnership

The Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustangs of Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison

Shell V-Power Racing Team executive chairman and CEO Ryan Story has given an insight into what a buy-in to the famous Ford squad might look like.

Rumours have swirled for months around the team being for sale, and Story has now publicly affirmed that a stake may indeed be up for grabs.

That, however, will only be available to a “strategic partner who adds value”, as opposed to merely an investor to prop up the coffers.

Story noted he and co-owner Dick Johnson have been open to such an arrangement since Team Penske departed Supercars at the end of 2020 and that there is absolutely no urgency on the matter.

“We’re not looking for an investor because we don’t need an investor – we’ve got a very healthy business and a very healthy race team,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“We’ve got great partners, we’ve got fantastic staff, and we’ve got the best fans in the business, but if someone can add value to the organisation by way of that strategic side, then we’d certainly be open to talks and to negotiations.

“What has been so frustrating is that unfortunately I haven’t been able to attend a race this year, which is due to no fault of my own, but in that vacuum… the pit lane is the sort of place where it’s like a tea party for gossip.

“If you were to ask any one team owner, they would say, ‘did you hear the sky is purple?’ That’s always been the nature of pit lane from the time that I have been involved, and it can be frustrating at times.”

Regardless of the outcome of their search, Story said he and Johnson will always remain involved in the business.

He further elaborated on what a strategic partner could bring to the table.

“Well, a strategic partner is someone who can bring something to the team that the team doesn’t already have; it doesn’t even necessarily have to be someone who can help make our race cars go faster,” he said.

“In our work with Penske, that wasn’t the case at all. Basically our modus operandi was to be the marketing arm of Penske Australia/New Zealand and we were very successful in doing that and then growing the awareness of the brand out here.

“And a strategic partner looks like someone who can assist, whether it be from a commercial perspective in terms of partners, whether it be in a sporting perspective in coming at things from a different perspective to how we look at it now.

“And even down to having the ability to really rejuvenate and put on steroids our business-to-business programme, which is where our partners do business together.

“A strong strategic partner could be someone who comes in and has potential opportunities with all of our other partners. That would be something that would add significant value to the organisation, because it would only strengthen all of our partnerships.

“So that’s what I would describe as a strategic partner. It’s a very broad brief.

“We’ve always been open-minded to it, there has been various discussions over time, but there’s not been anything that has been the right fit. Time will tell.

“There’s no urgency about it. We’re in a very good position like I mentioned from a business standpoint and from the team, and we’re also getting the job done on-track as well as off-track.

“I would have loved to have one of our drivers standing on the top step on Sunday [in Townsville] but it was fantastic to see Davo drive back with a broken car and make it back to seventh. It was really spectacular given the fact that that thing was bent to the point of being broken.

“And Anton giving a bit of biffo and giving Giz [Shane van Gisbergen] a bit of his own medicine. Sure, he copped a penalty, but I don’t mind that if he’s genuinely having a go, and that’s what he did.

“It was fantastic, it was great to watch and there’ll be more of it.”

On the matter of taming the pit lane rumour mill, Story added: “It’s been difficult during the COVID period: we’ve had personnel restrictions and at the same time I’ve had some of my own battles that I have faced but I’m coming out the other side of those.

“Pit lane, look out: there’s going to be a few people that will get straightened out, and I’d much rather do it face-to-face than over the phone.”

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