Home' Supercar Xtra : Feb Mar 2019 Issue 109 Contents SUPERCAR XTRA
Someone like Phil can change a team,
They can. We have Triple Eight support,
which is great, but you can’t purely rely
on another team all the time. You have to
be in control of your own destiny. Stuart
McDonald, the engineer who was already
there, is very good, so we effectively have
technical director, race engineer and data
engineer. We have what three or four-car
teams have for one car, so we have plenty
of technical depth.
Phil will drive the direction but, at the
same time, he’s not one of those blokes
who comes in and says it’s my way or the
highway. He likes the small-team culture,
which is why he worked so well at BJR. I
like the way he goes racing. I worked with
him 10-plus years ago, but we’re two differ-
ent people in our careers now, and it’s great
to come together again.
He engineered my car for a year at FPR,
and when I met him again I said we’d treat
this as day one. He needs to help me under-
stand this car, drive this car, because what
the Tickford car was and what the Team 18
car is going to be will be polar opposites.
He’s told me that and he’s going to have
to coach me through that because he has
that experience. He knows about Tickford
cars and he knows a Ludo (Lacroix) DJR
Team Penske car. He understands all that
and will play a big role in helping me adapt,
but day-to-day it’s going to be Stuart in the
workshop that I deal with engineering-wise.
I have so many good heads at my disposal
and I like the culture. I actually think we
have overkill on personnel. There’s a really
good structure in place and we just have to
go and do the job.
How did Charlie Schwerkolt convince
you he was serious?
When Charlie asked me what I needed,
to his credit, he’s got everyone I asked
for – and above and beyond what I asked
for. The pressure is on me now to deliver
because what I asked for, I’ve got. There
were definitely other options and more
There was more money out there if I just
wanted to get the most money. We chat-
ted for the first time at Perth and I didn’t
really think anything more about it. Then
three months later, when the Tickford
negotiations were going a little bit stale
and weren’t really progressing, I met with
Charlie again and I told him what I wanted.
I said Phil Keed had to be on his hit list and
he needed a credible major sponsor, while
Triple Eight gear would be great.
I gave him my wishlist and he said to give
him a month. I didn’t hear from him for
three weeks, and then he came back with
everything pretty much sorted. When you
ask someone for something and he goes
and makes it happen, it’s a no-brainer.
I race to win. I’m lucky enough to have
raced long enough to have success and
know what it takes. You have highs and
lows, but you don’t want to finish your
career on a low. I didn’t want it to keep
going the way it was going last year, so I
took control of my future and put pressure
on Charlie to make things happen. I have
never seen anyone work as hard as he has
to make things happen.
Communication was open, I kept him in
the loop, and once he ticked off the list I
went to him, got him to print off the con-
tract, and we signed. That was it.
The people we have are people that I’d
have expected to have at Tickford – but I
couldn’t get them there. I asked for them,
but I couldn’t get them there. They’ve
landed here at a one-car team, so that’s
why I say Charlie’s done a great job to
make it all happen. The people we have are
People just think I’ve gone there for
a s@#tload of money, but it’s about the
people. Charlie’s spending more money, but
he’s spending it on the people I’ve asked
for. It’s not going into my pocket.
So when people suggest I’ve moved for
more money, it’s insulting. Charlie’s spend-
ing more, but it’s not on me – it’s on the
things I’ve asked for. And if I win I’ll earn
more money anyway (through bonuses).
Do you regard this as a gamble? Most
people on the outside think you’re
taking a big risk.
It’s calculated, though. I haven’t just gone
there to the same thing. It wasn’t, ‘Lee,
you hop out and I’ll hop in.’ There’ve been
a lot of changes. It’s a risk – there’s always
a risk – but I thought it would be more of
a risk staying where I was. I wanted to be
in control of my destiny and not have it
controlled for me. It took a lot of work.
Charlie worked his arse off and I had to
work my arse off, being in dialogue with
all these people to sell the opportunity and
turn from a maybe to a yes.
We’re going to have a good car and
incredible staff, and we’ll be able to do
things the big teams can’t. People always
think the big teams can do stuff better, but
we’re getting that big-team equipment in a
small team that can react very quickly. We
just need to focus on what we can do well.
It’s a risk, but a very calculated risk.
So you just couldn’t see it working for
you at Tickford anymore, even with
the Mustang coming for 2019?
The Mustang will no doubt be better. It’s
going to be a better car, but the body shape
doesn’t fix the things I was asking for to be
changed. And the things I was asking for
were pretty basic stuff – the things most
drivers would ask for – and I wasn’t really
I couldn’t just hold on and hope that the
Mustang would fix everything because it
won’t. There were things I thought needed
to change and a new body shape wasn’t
going to be enough. It’s a shame because
the Mustang will be a better car, but if
Penske beat you last year with the same
car, how is it going to be different this year?
You’re not going to jump them. They’re still
going to beat you.
I just saw Charlie’s as a better opportu-
nity to roll out at Adelaide and get up the
front. I don’t think what was happening
at Tickford was going to give me that
Do you really expect to be right up
there, just behind Triple Eight and
DJR Team Penske?
I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my
own trumpet, but being the underdog’s
quite a good thing. I like being the under-
dog. It’s how I’ve lived my whole life. I’m
not joining this team to just fluff around.
You have to set realistic goals, but
Erebus proves that a small team with good
resources can do big things.
ABOVE: Winterbottom during his summer break, relaxing
following one of the biggest decisions in his career.
SX109 p58-64 Foges Winterbottom.indd 61
15/2/19 12:01 pm
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