Sandown 500 - Supercars Championship
Sandown 500 - Supercars Championship

Holden racing boss’ plan to keep iconic brand alive

RED Bull Holden Racing Team boss Roland Dane will meet with General Motors this week about the squad's future with the company after the shock announcement Holden was being killed off.

Dane said Supercars fans should brace for change in the series, but would not speculate on what Holden's demise meant for his team or what model it would be racing next year.

 

Holden's official factory-backed squad since 2017, Triple Eight has a deal in place with Holden until the end of 2021, which Dane will discuss with the parent company this week.

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"The ongoing situation at the moment (is) I'm meeting with GM this week and we'll discuss what happens," Dane said at the Supercars test day at Tailem Bend in South Australia.

"But until then, there is nothing more to be said, really, it's a discussion between me and then.

"I'm not going to speculate on what we're doing next season at the moment."

GM made the shock announcement on Monday the Holden brand would cease to exist at the end of the year, dropping a bombshell on Supercars on the eve of the season-opening race in Adelaide this week.

Dane said Holden's axing would mean significant change for the category, which was already working towards a set of new Gen3 regulations for 2022, which is set to see a shift towards two-door sports cars.

The Red Bull Holden racing team with drivers Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes. Picture: AAP
The Red Bull Holden racing team with drivers Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes. Picture: AAP

"It will mean some change and undoubtedly we will see some change coming up. I'm not going to tell you what that change is at the moment, but you will see some change," Dane said.

"You won't see the Holden brand as a predominant brand in Supercars in 2021 … there are plenty of possibilities (for suitable models to race) out there, I'm not going to speculate on what those are.

"We want to carry on racing cars that represent what the Australian public has shown they enjoy watching ... we've got to keep delivering a product along those lines and I think collectively as a category we will."

Dane said it was conceivable the Commodore could still race in the series next year, perhaps with a different branding, as the Falcon did in the series after manufacturing of the Ford sedan halted.

The Holden brand has been synonymous with Supercars racing – here is Mark Skaife during a practice session in 1994.
The Holden brand has been synonymous with Supercars racing – here is Mark Skaife during a practice session in 1994.

While Dane admitted the timing of the announcement had been a shock, he said the direction the company had been headed had been on the cards for some time.

"The timing of this was definitely a surprise," Dane said.

"Obviously as somebody who is very aware of the motor industry on a larger platform on a world basis, the lack of real right hand drive plans going ahead was a concern. But there were some new models that were in the pipeline from what we could see, which gave us reassurance.

"But it is what it is. We're a very small market in Australia and competing for attention against much bigger markets. So the decisions that affect the car industry on a much wider basis are not made in Australia, they are made in Japan, or they're made in Detroit or they're made in Germany."

Roland Dane, Owner of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, in Pit Lane at Mount Panorama. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Roland Dane, Owner of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, in Pit Lane at Mount Panorama. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Holden versus Ford rivalry has been at the cornerstone of the Supercars fan base, but he did not expect support for the category to suffer.

"Not if we, collectively as the category, do our homework properly," Dane said.

"I think we can still provide the excitement and the show that people have come to expect over many years.

"Unfortunately, one of the issues is that people who have been barracking for the Holden brand over the last 10 years or so haven't actually been buying the product for whatever reason.

"It's a fact of life that a lot of people have actually been turning up the races in other brands. It's something we are all very aware of. Times change and we have got to change with them."


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