More major changes are underway at the Erebus Motorsaport V8 team, which has confirmed that it will shut down its Queensland factory and relocate to Melbourne.
The team’s remaining Queensland-based V8 Supercars staff were summoned to a meeting on Thursday and informed of the outfit’s plans to consolidate its V8 Supercars operation with its existing GT establishment in Melbourne.
Since buying out the Stone Brothers Racing team at the end of 2012, Erebus Motorsport has been leasing the former SBR factory while also running a smaller GT factory in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin, which will become the team’s official headquarters.
“Erebus Motorsport will compete in the 2016 V8 Supercar Championship with two cars,” team owner Betty Klimenko confirmed in a statement.
“The objective is to consolidate our resources and improve performance as one team in readiness for round one of the championship in Adelaide. Our fans, sponsors, team, and drivers deserve that, and it’s my responsibility as the team owner to provide the most competitive package available.
“With this in mind we have decided to relocate the V8 business to our Melbourne-owned premises. This is a delicate time as we restructure and consolidate in an effort to consistently be more competitive.
“Racing has dual purposes and as much as I love motorsport the primary objective is to be competitive on track. I respect and appreciate the support from our sponsors and particularly our fans during this time.
“I also want to thank the team and our staff for their continued efforts,” she added.
The news comes in the wake of ongoing speculation over the future of the team, which struggled for much of the season to secure long-term commercial backing until signing deals with Penrite and Wendys late in the year.
The team also lost the services of lead driver Will Davison, who parted ways with the team by mutual consent just two years into a multi-million-dollar four-year contract. His exit triggered a number of resignations among the small team’s headcount, who became fearful that the team’s unknown future would lead to the loss of their jobs.
“When Will (Davison) left, someone inside the group started saying ‘they’re going down to one car and moving to Melbourne’ – so the next thing you know, another crew (member) leaves and another crew leaves, and another,” Klimenko admitted to the official V8 Supercars website.
“They’ve pushed me into having to change what I’m doing next year because all I’m left with is eight staff and I don’t have enough people.”
Klimenko also confirmed that it was likely her team would not run its Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 V8 Supercars next year, with the most likely solution being the acquisition of Holden Commodores developed by the Walkinshaw Racing stable.
A long-time Mercedes stalwart, Klimenko introduced the E63 to the V8 Supercars Championship after buying the team, although it ran as a customer arrangement with scarcely any support from Mercedes’ performance and racing arms, AMG and HWA.
Its chassis and engines had little development – yielding just two wins in three seasons – and despite the engine management program being brought in-house, it is believed that development stopped altogether midway through the 2015 season.
A move to Holden Commodores will mean the V8 Supercars Championship will reduce to four manufacturers – Holden, Ford, Volvo and Nissan. Ford is present in name only and has provided no manufacturer backing since the end of 2015, while Holden is set to halt production on the Commodore model in the near future. The mid-term future of both Volvo and Nissan also remains unknown.
Images via XPB Images and Zimbio