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How Reynolds/Grove stint proved mutually beneficial

DAVID Reynolds is walking away from Grove Racing, but not without having relished being part of their mutually beneficial Supercars rise.

The Grove family bought a 50 percent stake in Kelly Racing in 2021 to create Kelly Grove Racing, before fully taking over the Ford team the following season.

Reynolds’ arrival at Braeside coincided with that of the Groves, his five-year stint with Erebus Motorsport having ended on a sour note following a falling out with CEO Barry Ryan.

It was at Erebus that Reynolds’ reputation skyrocketed, but also where his career fell in a heap.

Enter the Grove chapter. The 2017 Bathurst 1000 winner took just five races to get back to the podium – his first in 16 months – and was quickly back to his jovial self.

That was increasingly reflected on the track too, Reynolds becoming a regular contender for silverware (13 podiums in three seasons) and eventually snapping his victory drought at the 2023 Gold Coast 500.

It feels an odd time for Reynolds and the Groves to be splitting, his final four races having all produced podiums, but the happy divorce comes as the two parties eye what’s in their respective best interests.

The Groves are taking a calculated risk, entrusting themselves to unlock Richie Stanaway’s potential, the ceiling to which is high but not fully known in a Supercar, as it hunts championship glory.

Whereas for Reynolds, in the latter stages of his career as a Supercars primary driver, the job security of a multi-year Team 18 contract was lucrative.

Hand in hand, they’ve got each other to where they now are: Grove a proven force ready to upset the apple cart, and Reynolds reinvigorated.

Broc Feeney, Matt Payne, Stephen Grove and David Reynolds. Pic: Supplied/Race Project

It’s a journey the latter makes no secret of having enjoyed.

“I was there when it was Kelly Grove Racing and it was Todd (Kelly) and Steve (Grove) running the show,” said Reynolds.

“And then kind of immediately after Todd left, I saw Stephen start employing people like David Cauchi, Grant McPherson, people like that, and I was like, ‘this guy means business’.

“Our car changed dramatically last year and it was a very, very fast car, just a few other areas kind of let us down with the Gen2 program.

“Then rolling onto this year, we tried to hit the ground running as best we could but we were almost limited by the sport itself really, which is a bit of a shame but that’s the sword we had to play with at the time.

“We have just sort of grown as a unit together all year, we worked really hard together, everyone has put their head down and worked so hard on this car, and obviously the last two rounds have played into our hands with getting a bigger rear wing and getting a bit of a leg-up from the parity side.

“Since then, Matt (Payne, teammate) has won a race, I’ve had four podiums in a row, I won a race, I have been on the front row a few times, Matt has been on the front row.

“The car has really come alive, but that sort of goes back to Tailem Bend the car was pretty strong, Sandown the car was very strong, Bathurst the car was very strong and every other round we’ve just tried to aim for the fastest Ford and most of the time we have been able to achieve that.

“It has been a really cool thing to watch, because as a driver you’re not really there full-time, you sort of just breeze in, breeze out and see the vibe of the place change.

“The commitment that they have had into the actual facility itself, I reckon it has made a big deal.

“It’s a happier place to be, everyone works more intrinsically together, it’s a good place to be.”

It’s a happy place which he’ll be observing from the other side of the fence in 2024, as Reynolds reunites with Mark Winterbottom in a veteran driver line-up at Team 18.

There, the 38-year-old has at least a couple of seasons to add to his tally of eight Supercars Championship race wins and another meaningful chapter to his acclaimed story.

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