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HomeNewsKeed’s insight into DJR Team Penske exit

Keed’s insight into DJR Team Penske exit

PHIL Keed has reflected on his split with DJR Team Penske and why it maybe wasn’t as big a surprise as it had seemed to the outside world at the time.

Keed had just engineered Fabian Coulthard through a title-contending 2017 campaign, with the Kiwi ultimately ending up third and contributing considerably to a teams’ championship.

MORE: How a legend shaped Keed’s career

Keed and Coulthard had forged a successful bond previously at Brad Jones Racing before joining forces at DJRTP in 2016.

And then all of a sudden, the combination was over, with Keed shown the door ahead of the 2018 season.

Coulthard arguably never recovered, convincingly outperformed by teammate Scott McLaughlin the following three seasons.

“I had a three-year contract there and ’17 was the second year of it,” Keed recalled on the most recent V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Castrol.

“I think there’s never any one factor. I loved working with a lot of the guys there.

“Ludo (Lacroix, engineer on the sister car of Scott McLaughlin), we’re really good mates actually, we were up ‘til that point, we would go off sailing and that kind of thing and actually now we hang out quite a lot, mountain biking and things like that.

“But something I felt that I always knew is that we’re probably not really suited to working together particularly well.

“I think you just end up with these engineer relationships… Ludo, he’s one of those mercurial sort of leaders; they’re pretty unique people, but they have a fairly narrow set of people that they need around them for things to work. That was one factor.

“I sort of learnt about myself that I wasn’t really a Penske guy. Clearly a tremendously successful motorsport organisation and everything else, but I found them a little bit more about being quiet and just follow the process and we’ll get there eventually.

“I don’t know, I’m probably more an agitator. I’m aware that I think my style may not have suited them.

Fabian Coulthard delivered Penske its first championship race win in Supercars. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“Ultimately I don’t really know what happened, but after that year where we came first in the (teams’) championship and Fabian third, Ryan (Story) and Ludo just took me into Ryan’s office and said ‘we don’t have a position for you next year’.

“They did sort of quote teamwork and things like that which I felt was interesting because we had won the teams’ championship, but this is one of those things that happens in motorsport, it’s often more about the politics and everything else.

“I’m still really good mates with a lot of the guys I met there, still see them a lot.

“At the end of the day perception is reality, that’s what happened. I’m not going to say it was totally unfair, I just obviously didn’t have a fit or a place there.”

It was not all bad, though, with the departure opening the door for an especially memorable passage of Keed’s life.

“It was actually a really beneficial experience because the severance thing was a year of gardening leave essentially,” he continued.

“I was sort of reminded of a couple of clauses in the contract, non-disparagement and other things, which I took to be ‘just disappear and help it all go away’.

“So I took the family off to Canada, my wife is from there, and we had a year living there – close to 18 months – and it was just an incredible experience and time in our life which I was really thankful for, to be honest.”

Keed returned to Supercars in 2019 to head up the engineering department at a revamped Team 18.

He spent three seasons there, and is now into his third season back at BJR, engineering Bryce Fullwood.

Another V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Castrol episode is due to drop later today.

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