Holden Racing Team
|Team Principal||Ryan Walkinshaw|
|Team Manager||Adrian Burgess|
|Race Drivers||2 Garth Tander
22 James Courtney
|Chassis||Holden VF Commodore|
|Drivers' Championships||6 (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)|
|2012 position||4th (4,690 points)|
The Holden Racing Team (HRT) is a Melbourne based motor racing team. Formed in 1990, it is the most successful V8 Supercar team in the history of the category, having won the driver's championship six times, and the series signature race, the Bathurst 1000, seven times.
HRT is the factory team of Australian car manufacturer Holden, and its performance vehicle partner Holden Special Vehicles. The team is based in Clayton where it shares its facilities with sister Walkinshaw Performance team Walkinshaw Racing.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1980s
- 1.2 1990s
- 1.3 2000s
- 1.4 2010s
- 1.5 Ownership Battle
- 2 External links
- 3 References
As part of the joint venture established in 1987 between Tom Walkinshaw and Holden to form Holden Special Vehicles, Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) was to run Holden’s motor sport programme. TWR were responsible for designing the Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV, which was homologated for racing in August 1988 after Holden Special Vehicles completed the required 500.
For 1988 it was decided to contract out the racing programme to Perkins Engineering although a car built by TWR in the United Kingdom was raced by Tom Walkinshaw at the Silverstone Tourist Trophy and Bathurst 1000.
For 1989 it was planned for TWR to run the full season with two cars. Win Percy and Neil Crompton were announced as the team’s drivers and a second VL Commodore built in the United Kingdom was tested in Holden Racing Team livery at Calder but with the likelihood of being mauled by the Ford Sierra RS500s, the Australian Touring Car Championship programme was cancelled. For the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Grand Prix support races, the programme was once again contracted to Perkins Engineering.
In 1990 the operation was brought in house with long time TWR driver Win Percy moving to Melbourne to fill the role of both driver and team manager. Percy drove at all Australian Touring Car Championship rounds except for Mallala where Neil Crompton drove after Percy returned to England for a family bereavement. Percy's highest qualifying position was sixth at Winton and highest race result a third place at Lakeside, and he finished eighth overall in the championship.
At the Sandown 500, Percy and Crompton qualified the car fourth, however did not finish the race. For the Bathurst 1000 the team entered two cars with Percy, against the wishes of Holden and Tom Walkinshaw, recruiting Allan Grice to co-drive the lead car. Crompton was joined by Brad Jones. With Percy suffering a shoulder injury, his decision to hire Grice was vindicated with the latter handling the bulk of the driving on the way to an unexpected victory, the second car finished fifth.
For 1991 the VN Commodore was homologated with Win Percy driving in all ATCC rounds except Lakeside where Allan Grice substituted while Percy competed in an event in Europe. Percy again finished eighth in the championship. At the Bathurst 1000, Percy and Grice teamed together to finish second, with the second car of Neil Crompton and Brad Jones not finishing after running out of fuel.
With Win Percy having decided to return to England, Tomas Mezera was hired. Due to a budget shortfall and the need to develop the VP Commodore for the new V8 formula, HRT only competed at the Sandown, Lakeside and Eastern Creek rounds. Two 1993 spec VP Commodores were raced at the Sandown 500 with Mezera and Brad Jones finishing third while Percy and Grice finished fifth at the Bathurst 1000. Mezera and Jones drove two cars at the Grand Prix support races.
With budget problems compounded by Castrol deciding to transfer its funding to Perkins Engineering, at the beginning of 1993 there was some doubt as to whether the team would compete in the 1993 Australian Touring Car Championship. Former 1987 World 500cc champion Wayne Gardner with only one touring car start was signed as the team’s driver with Tomas Mezera’s participation being dependent on additional sponsorship being secured, however he would ultimately compete in all nine rounds.
At the Sandown 500 Mezera was joined by Michael Preston, with Brad Jones and Allan Grice in the second car. For the Bathurst 1000 Mezera was joined by Win Percy with Gardner and Jones driving the second car to a third place finish. Gardner won a race at the Australian Grand Prix.
The team’s season was dominated by off-track politics. Before the end of the championship chief engineer Wally Storey and team manager Neal Lowe had left the team with Mezera appointed as acting team manager. Before the Sandown 500, Gardner was suspended for two weeks from the team. HRT alleged Gardner was trying to poach the team’s sponsors for his own operation, Gardner claimed that he was acting on a request by the team to help secure extra funding. Gardner secured funding from Coca-Cola for 1994, but his proposal for taking part ownership was rejected by Tom Walkinshaw and he elected to form Wayne Gardner Racing. At Bathurst, Jeff Grech commenced what would ultimately be a very successful stint as team manager.
In 1994 Peter Brock was signed to drive for the team. In spite of some resistance by some within Holden after the divorce with Brock’s Holden Dealer Team in 1987, the substantial Mobil and NGK sponsorship he brought to the team made the deal irresistible. Both of these sponsors remain with the team in 2013. The team was competitive throughout the ATCC, with Brock taking the round win at Eastern Creek and second places at Sandown, Symmons Plains, Philip Island and Oran Park on the way to a third place finish, Mezera finished ninth.
For the endurance events, Brad Jones and Rickard Rydell (who was driving a Volvo 850 for TWR in the British Touring Car Championship) were earmarked to drive the second car. However with Rydell’s wife due to give birth, he was replaced by Craig Lowndes for the Sandown 500. After finishing fifth and setting the fastest lap of the four drivers, HRT elected to retain Lowndes for the Bathurst 1000. Despite Lowndes crashing in the warm up and spinning mid race, a stellar double stint from Jones saw the car finish second. The lead car crashed late in the race.
For 1995 the VR Commodore was introduced. Brock remained a championship contender at the final round at Oran Park, finishing third with Mezera fifth. Lowndes and Greg Murphy ran the second car at the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 however neither finished either race. After the Grand Prix support race it was announced that Lowndes would drive for the team full-time in 1996, he would take Mezera’s seat for the season ending Brock Challenge at Calder.
With the demise of tobacco sponsorship, HRT had been able to lure many key personnel from Gibson Motorsport. This helped the team dominate the 1996 season with Craig Lowndes winning the ATCC, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000, the latter two in partnership with Greg Murphy. Brock finished the series in fourth being joined again by Tomas Mezera for the endurance races. With Lowndes headed to Europe in 1997 to compete in F3000, Murphy was hired as his replacement and debuted at two races in New Zealand at the end of the year.
The year saw a number of mechanical failures with the VS Commodores that prevented HRT from following on from the success of 1996. One highlight of the year were one-two finishes at both Symmons Plains and Wanneroo. Just before the Eastern Creek round of the series Peter Brock announced his retirement from full-time racing. Overall, Murphy and Brock finished the year fourth and sixth respectively. Lowndes returned to drive in the endurance events with Murphy, while Mark Skaife co-drove with Brock. Lowndes and Murphy won the Sandown 500 while despite Skaife winning poll at both events, he and Brock failed to finish.
At selected events a third car was entered under the Holden Young Lions banner with Jason Bargwanna, Todd Kelly, Mark Noske and Stephen White driving. Bargwanna and Noske drove a car in the endurance races.
For 1998 Lowndes returned to HRT and Skaife succeeded Brock. Lowndes won the ATCC with Skaife finishing third. At the Calder round Greg Murphy debuted the VT Commodore. Lowndes and Skaife finished second at the Sandown 500. At the Bathurst 1000 despite winning pole position and leading much of the race, Lowndes and Skaife suffered a number of tyre failures finishing sixth. The second car of Greg Murphy and Mark Noske suffered a crash in late qualifying causing them to miss the shootout and cause endless problems throughout the race including the same tyre woes that Lowndes and Skaife suffered and retired on lap 86.
Lowndes again won the ATCC with Skaife third despite Lowndes having to miss the Symmons Plains round after a car destroying rollover at Calder. Endurance driver Cameron McConville deputised in Lowndes’s 1996 winning VS Commodore. For the Queensland 500 and Bathurst 1000, Lowndes was joined by McConville finishing third and second respectively. Skaife was joined by Paul Morris finishing third at Bathurst.
In 2000 Skaife won the championship with Lowndes finishing in third. At the Queensland 500 Lowndes and Skaife teamed together to win. The second car was driven by Todd Kelly and Nathan Pretty, however failed to finish. At the Bathurst 1000, Lowndes and Skaife finished in sixth position with Jason Plato and Yvan Muller. Kelly raced the Holden Young Lions entry at some rounds being joined by Pretty at Bathurst.
Off-track Craig Lowndes wanted out of his ten-year management contract with Tom Walkinshaw and left the team at season’s end for Gibson Motorsport.
In 2001 Jason Bright joined the team. At the Queensland 500 Skaife and Bright shared a car with Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera driving the second. For the Bathurst 1000 the lead drivers were split, Skaife and Longhurst winning. Skaife won the series, Bright finished third.
In 2002 Skaife again won the championship with Bright finishing fourth. HRT won the first eight rounds of the season. Jim Richards and Mezera drove the second car at the Queensland 500. At the Bathurst 1000 Skaife and Richards won with Bright and Mezera third. A third car was raced throughout the season under the Holden Young Lions banner by Rick Kelly, finishing fourth at Bathurst with Nathan Pretty.
In 2003 Tom Walkinshaw Racing collapsed and the team was put up for sale by the administrator. Holden purchased the team, but because manufacturers were prohibited from owning teams, it was quickly sold to Mark Skaife. Todd Kelly commenced a five year stint as the driver of the second car. For the endurance races Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst rejoined the team. Skaife and Kelly won the sandown 500 with Longhurst and Richards finishing in tenth. At the Bathurst 1000 Skaife and Kelly finished the race in eighth after being black flagged late in the race to repair accident damage with Richards and Longhurst fifth.
In 2004 Kelly finished the championship in seventh place and Skaife in twelfth after one of his worst seasons on record where it included a number of driver errors and reliability issues. For the endurance events Jason Plato joined Peter Brock in the second car. Skaife and Kelly finished the Bathurst 1000 in fourteenth position, two laps down after a belt from the engine broke early in the race.
In 2005 both Skaife and Kelly won rounds of the championship with Kelly winning the Shanghai round. This victory gave HRT their 50th round win, the first team to do so. Skaife and Kelly won the Bathurst 1000. Jim Richards and James Courtney drove the second car, however failed to finish.
In 2006 Kelly finished the season in sixth place and Skaife finished in a miserable sixteenth. Both drivers did have success during with Skaife winning at Pukekohe and Waneroo and Kelly winning at Surfers Paradise and Phillip Island. With HRT out of the title race by the time of the endurance races and the sister HSV Dealer Team having both its drivers in contention, it was controversially decided to split its drivers with Garth Tander driving with Skaife and Kelly with his brother Rick at the HSV Dealer Team. However the plan was not successful with the Skaife/Tander car finishing 26th at the Sandown 500 and crashing on lap 1 at Bathurst after a driveline failure. The second HRT car was driven by Jim Richards and Ryan Briscoe and finished in 21st at Sandown and did not finish at Bathurst.
Glenn Seton and Nathan Pretty were signed to drive the second car. However with Skaife requiring appendix surgery the week before the Sandown 500, a reshuffle saw Kelly and Pretty paired in one car and Seton and Tony Longhurst in the second.
In 2008 defending champion Garth Tander engineer Matthew Nielson and sponsor Toll transferred from sister team HSV Dealer Team. For the endurance races Glenn Seton was joined by Craig Baird. On 29 October Skaife also announced that 2008 would be his last season in a full-time drive in V8 Supercars. At the end of the year, Skaife sold his 50% share in the team to Tom Walkinshaw.
In 2010 Tander finished fifth and Davison 22nd. As a whole the team struggled to string together a series and ended a disappointing seventh in the team's championship. For the endurance races Tander was paired with Cameron McConville and Davison with David Reynolds. For the Bathurst 1000 the team ran a retro livery in recognition of the team’s 1990 Bathurst victory.
With Will Davison departing for Ford Performance Racing, defending champion James Courtney joined the team. The season started with Courtney winning in Abu Dhabi. For the endurance races, Tander was joined by Nick Percat and Courtney by McConville. Tander and Percat won the Bathurst 1000. Tander finished the season fifth, Courtney tenth.
In 2012 the team scored no wins with Tander finishing the season in seventh, Courtney tenth.
The VF Commodore made its debut in 2013. At Townsville Tander led a team one-two, breaking a 20 month drought for the team. Tander was again joined by Nick Percat and Courtney by Greg Murphy. Tander also won a race at Phillip Island.
Tander and Courtney will again drive VF Commodores in 2014.
At the start of the 2007 season, a battle erupted over the ownership of HRT. Skaife had been hounded by governing body, the Touring Car Entrants Group of Australia (TEGA), for more than four months for paperwork proving compliance with the Teams' Licence Agreement, but had failed to show the required information. He was given until 12 March to provide the evidence, or the team could be removed from the V8 Touring Car Competition.
Skaife managed to produce sufficient evidence and TEGA allowed HRT to continue racing. A commercial settlement was struck between Skaife and TEGA that ensured that Skaife, and not Holden Motor Sport owner Tom Walkinshaw, had ownership and control over the team. It has been revealed that Tom Walkinshaw owned a 50% stake in Skaife Sports. Subsequently in December 2008 Skaife sold his remaining interest in HRT to Walkinshaw.
- Nissan's First, 1990 Shell Australian Touring Car Championship, Australian Motor Racing Year 1990/91, pages 108–109
- "Seton joins Holden factory team". V8 Supercars Australia. 16 February 2007.
- All change for 2008
- "Rising V8 star Will Davison joins factory Holden Racing Team". V8 Daily Dump. 28 January 2009.
- 2013 V8 Supercars Championship V8 Supercars
- Kelly takes the first flag as Gore turns up heat on Skaife Sydney Morning Herald 3 March 2007
- Kelly retains one-track mind ‘’Herald Sun’’
- Motorsport: Walkinshaw half-owner of HRT (March 2007)
- Mark Skaife sells up before last race Retrieved on 18 December 2010