Walkinshaw Andretti United
Team(s): Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing
Team Principals: Ryan Walkinshaw, Michael Andretti, Zak Brown
Chassis: Holden Commodore ZB
Drivers’ Championships: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Drivers: Scott Pye and James Courtney (Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing)
A brief history
Walkinshaw Andretti United (formerly known as Walkinshaw Racing) was formed in 1990. As Holden’s factory racing team (Holden Racing Team) for 26 years it was to become one of the biggest success stories in Australian sport, winning the Australian Touring Car Championship / V8 Supercars Championship title six times and taking seven victories at the Bathurst 1000.
After Tom Walkinshaw died in 2010 and the Walkinshaw family committed to retaining its Australian automotive and motorsport interests – the Holden Racing Team (HRT), Holden Specialist Vehicles and Walkinshaw Performance – his son, Ryan took the helm of the troubled flagship factory-backed Holden team, having not taken the championship since Mark Skaife won the last of his three consecutive titles for the team in 2002. Ryan Walkinshaw signalled his intentions for 2014 investing heavily in the team and making some key personnel changes with the widely publicised hirings of former Red Bull Racing team principal Adrian Burgess as managing director, and former Tickford Racing engineering manager Mathew Nilsson as technical director.
Expanding to four cars in 2014, the season didn’t go to plan with only the two HRT cars in the hands of Garth Tander and James Courtney remaining consistently competitive. In the customer cars, Nick Percat showed pace landing on the podium twice, but Tim Slade had a seriously unlucky year, failing to finish more than any other driver, although the South Australian did land three podiums.
The team remained as a four car outfit in 2015, but after James Rosenberg returned his Racing Entitlements Contract (REC) at the season’s end, Percat made the switch to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, with Charlie Schwerkolt moving his #18 REC to the factory Holden team and bringing in driver Lee Holdsworth. But 2015 was a season to forget for Walkinshaw. No major victories apart from James Courtney and co-driver Jack Perkins’ win at the Gold Coast 600, not to mention a high attrition rate throughout the season.
Downsizing to just a two car operation in 2016, Walkinshaw Racing reverted to running solely as the Holden Racing Team, retaining its two driver line-up of Garth Tander and James Courtney for a sixth consecutive season, the longest serving driver pairing in the team’s history. Courtney was quick to succeed, winning the second race of the season in Adelaide. However, with no good results for the majority of the season, the team came under fire. The Sandown 500 did see a change in luck with Tander pulling off a surprise victory, but despite his win, the team announced that he would be replaced by Scott Pye in 2017.
Having endured a difficult campaign in 2016, Walkinshaw Racing was also hit by the news that it would be without factory backing in the 2017 Supercars Championship with Holden switching its support to Triple Eight Race Engineering ending a 26-year partnership.
Confident the loss of factory status wouldn’t unsettle proceedings, Walkinshaw moved quickly to rebrand the Holden Racing Team as Mobil 1 HSV. The new chapter started with a season opening podium in Adelaide for Courtney, but the rest of the campaign proved far more challenging. A run of poor results and a struggle for pace saw the team split with team-principal Adrian Burgess mid-season. Pye and Courtney combined for just eight top ten results, making the top five on only four occasions, the highlight being Pye and co-driver Warren Luff’s impressive run to second at the Bathurst 1000. While Pye finished a career best 12th, 2010 Champion Courtney ended 2017 nine places behind in 21st, his lowest finish in 12 seasons in Supercars.
In October 2017, having seen the success that Team Penske brought to Dick Johnson Racing, Walkinshaw Racing announced a new partnership with American racing royalty Andretti Autosport and McLaren Formula One chief Zak Brown’s British sportscar team, United Autosports.
Rebranded Walkinshaw Andretti United for 2018, there is an air of optimism as the partnership of the heavyweights hope its combined engineering and commercial expertise can accelerate the team back to the top of the sport. Set to race ZB Commodores this year, the team’s owners have stated bringing in a new manufacturer is their key objective for 2019.