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Feature: The state of Triple Eight

Triple Eight Race Engineering is undergoing its biggest change since arriving in Supercars with a change of ownership ahead of a switch of cars. The foundation team boss Roland Dane is getting ready to step aside to allow the team’s most successful driver, Jamie Whincup, to take over control of the team into 2022, while the Chevrolet Camaro gets ready to replace the Holden Commodore and Tony Quinn has already taken on majority ownership. In an in-depth feature in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #121, we look at what it means for the most successful team in the modern Supercars era with exclusive interviews with Dane, Quinn and Whincup.

17 May 2021

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Since his arrival in Australia in 2003, Roland Dane has been a dominant figure on the Australian motor-racing scene. The Irishman, now an Australian, purchased Briggs Motor Sport with his Triple Eight Race Engineering business in 2003, and went on to build the most successful team in Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars history.

First it was Team Betta Electrical, then Team Vodafone – and in the middle of that there was a switch from Ford to Holden – and now Red Bull Ampol Racing. There were offshoots for Craig Lowndes, a Dunlop Super2 Series entry here and there and some GT racing, but at the core was the big team out of Banyo, just next to Brisbane Airport, which also became the homologation team for Holden and now GM Special Vehicles with the Gen3 Camaro development.

Dane was, and perhaps still is, the strongest personality amongst the team owners, even if he has been diluting his ownership over the past few years. In many respects, he is as well-known as his drivers.

In 2005, a little more than two years after Dane’s arrival, Lowndes should have won Bathurst for the team. In 2006 he did with Jamie Whincup, and that brought a few tears to Dane’s eyes ““ winning Bathurst was his goal when he came to Australia. They backed that up in 2007 and 2008 for a famous three-peat.

Triple Eight and Whincup also started winning titles, in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017, with Shane van Gisbergen chipping in with the 2016 title in his first season with the team. That’s eight in all, and seemingly well on the way for another courtesy of van Gisbergen in 2021. More Bathurst wins in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2020 added to the tally of race victories, which now stands at over 200, with the team the first to achieve that milestone in championship history.

On raw numbers, Dane built the best. And he did it with the sort of ruthlessness required to dominate in motorsport. His take no prisoners approach, though, hasn’t always made him the most popular person in pitlane, and while not directly asking him the question, you get the feeling he doesn’t care about that too much.

Now 65, he started his succession planning a few years ago after buying out two of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s three shareholders (see table on the right). From there it has been a shuffle of shareholding that eventually brought his daughter Jessica Dane into the game, with Whincup also stumping up some cash. And now we have prominent motorsport identity Tony Quinn buying a significant shareholding as Dane plans his retirement.

“It’s been a long time in the planning, from my point of view, having succession plans in place” says Dane.

“One of the things I did a few years ago was to involve, in a minor way, Tim Miles and Paul Dumbrell, just on the basis that if something happened to me, then the team would have a couple of good people to tap into from a managerial assistance point of view in the short-term, while they sorted out a future. It was important to me that there was a mechanism in place.

“Then over the past couple of years it became clear that Jamie wanted to become a part of the future of the team; that he actually wants to become team principal and was interested in replacing me.

“He then put his money where his mouth was and bought a shareholding. Two key things for me are that the end of this year is the end of Jamie’s current driving contract, and aligned with the fact that I’ll be 65 in October it is a good time to step down.

“Aligning those things then meant that last year we started to look at what that would look like. Jamie is keen to have somebody sitting behind him, and with Jessica going down the road in terms of the commercial side of the business, there were opportunities with several people to fill the hole behind Jamie.

“The one that stuck out by a mile was Tony Quinn. Jamie and Jess were both very comfortable with him and his approach, and not only his track record but also his plans. And so I was very happy to help facilitate that happening, and I came up with the final part of this transition plan to play out this year and next.”

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