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The start of the 2018 season was a big occasion for the team formerly known as the Holden Racing Team (HRT). With the glory days of Holden factory backing well and truly behind them, Walkinshaw Racing had to find a new way forward.
Enter two of motorsport’s biggest outfits: Andretti Autosport, headed by former IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, and United Autosports, run by the man whose day job is being McLaren’s Formula 1 team boss, Zak Brown.
In October 2017, Ryan Walkinshaw declared war on the powerhouse teams by announcing Andretti and Brown had joined the iconic team, which was then rebranded as Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU).
The two WAU drivers would remain the same as James Courtney kept his seat after joining HRT as defending champion in 2011, driving alongside the team’s new recruit Scott Pye, who managed a valiant second at Bathurst in the days following the announcement.
Despite United Autosports only taking a 25 percent stake in the team compared to the 37.5 percent which Andretti Autosport invested, it was Brown who had made first contact after purchasing a former HRT race-winning car.
In 2017, Brown bought the 2011 Bathurst 1000-winning car of Garth Tander and Nick Percat (chassis WR 014) and subsequently got in touch with Walkinshaw through former Holden Dealer Team manager and Courtney’s agent, Alan Gow.
From there the wheels were put in motion, culminating in the announcement in October around the investment and then the cars turning a wheel for the first time at the start of 2018 with the debut of the Holden ZB Commodore.
Walkinshaw Andretti United only took five races to get their first Supercars victory with Pye in 2018, breaking through in wet conditions at Albert Park to claim the first major piece of silverware for the freshly rebranded super-team. But no one could have predicted it would take another 1121 days for the team to stand atop the podium again.
From the first win to the second, WAU went through seismic changes which were aimed at delivering championships, not just race wins. Trying to follow in the steps of the other international super-team DJR Team Penske, the squad which once had the backing of the almighty General Motors kept climbing up the pecking order, finally leading to Chaz Mostert taking the chequered flag first in Race 8 of 2021 at Symmons Plains.
“When I came to the team, there was a little dry spell for the team to get results” says Mostert.
“Now there’s obviously a direction there; the cars can be fast and you can win races, and it’s proven. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself from last year into this year, trying to get this elusive race win for our team.
“To guys like Ryan, Zak and Michael, to have faith in me to lead this team and get a race win again, it’s so rewarding to give back to our guys and our sponsors.”
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