TRIPLE EIGHT TAKES OVER AS HRT

27 years of history with Walkinshaws to end at 2016 Sydney 500 …

THE Holden Racing Team, as we know it, will end at the completion of the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercar Championship – but will live on in 2017 under a new arrangement.

Holden has confirmed today that the brand of its factory racing program will be carried by Brisbane-based Triple Eight Race Engineering from next season onwards in a new three-year deal.

The Red Bull-backed Commodores of Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen will run under the banner of the ‘Red Bull Holden Racing Team’ from 2017.

Today’s news means that the 27 year run of the Clayton-based Walkinshaw organisation – run previously by TWR, Skaife Sports and now Walkinshaw Racing as the factory HRT squad — will come to an end.

It comes after plenty of months of speculation over the future of Holden’s involvement in Supercar racing and also its involvement with Walkinshaw Racing.

“I’m especially excited to announce that the next generation Commodore will be racing in Supercars in 2018 and beyond,” said Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard today.

“Triple Eight will develop, build, race and I’m sure win with the next generation Commodore Supercar from 2018.

“It’s a great move for Holden that reinforces with our fans and our customers our commitment to motorsport and especially our long term future in this country.

“Motorsport has played a significant role in Holden’s heritage and we’re very proud to be continuing on that tradition but in a new and exciting way.”

The Holden Racing Team brand is owned by Holden, which has elected to transfer it to Roland Dane’s team that has delivered a staggering 101 championship race wins – including three Bathurst 1000s and four championships – since moving to Commodore race cars in 2010.

In the same time the Walkinshaw-run HRT cars have won a single Bathurst 1000 (2011 with Garth Tander/Nick Percat), no championships and just 16 championship race wins.

The announcement leaves the Walkinshaw team to continue effectively as privateers under the Walkinshaw Racing banner with similar support from Holden as the likes of Brad Jones Racing.

Both of its current drivers James Courtney and Garth Tander are out of contract at the end of the season.

Team Principal Ryan Walkinshaw confirmed today that WR remains committed to running a two-car Commodore team in 2017.

“We are rightly proud to have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Holden over the years, and have enjoyed many successes together,” he said.

“While our official motorsport partnership may have ended, our relationship with Holden remains strong and we continue to work closely on future road vehicle initiatives in line with our HSV business.”

The Holden Racing Team banner first appeared in 1989 with a pair of Commodores run by Perkins Engineering in the Sandown, Bathurst and Adelaide Grand Prix races.

The team proper was created in 1990 and run by team manager/driver Win Percy on behalf of the late Tom Walkinshaw and his Tom Walkinshaw Racing organisation.

Ever since then it has become part of the fabric of Australian touring car racing and, via its extraordinary success, become a giant of the local motorsport landscape.

It is the most successful race team in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship, now known as the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

The HRT has won 178 championship races, more than any other team, and over 200 when non-championship races are also taken into account.

It has also collected 92 championship pole positions (a record recently eclipsed by Triple Eight) and won a total of six championships – three with Craig Lowndes in 1996, 1998, 1999 and three with Mark Skaife in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

The team has seven Bathurst 1000 wins to its name in 1990, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009 and 2011.