Triple Eight boss Roland Dane says he’s not yet decided whether his team will continue to run three cars beyond the end of the current Supercars season.
The powerhouse Supercars team expanded from two to three cars back in 2016 to accomodate Craig Lowndes, who was shuffled out of the Red Bull line-up when Shane van Gisbergen was snapped up from Tekno.
With Lowndes having confirmed he’ll retire from full-time driving at the end of the current season, the team now has to determine whether it hires at least one more driver and sticks with expanded model, or slims back to just running the Red Bull cars for van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.
According to Dane, that decision is yet to be made.
“We haven’t made a call,” he said.
“We’ll certainly run two and we’re not allowed to run more than four.
“At the moment we’re concentrating our efforts on giving Craig the best possible end to his full-time career.
“We’ll think about what comes after that, whether it’s two, three, four cars, in the the weeks to come.
“Right now we’re focused on Craig and the rest of his season.”
Should Triple Eight elect to continue running at least three cars, it would put one of the most lucrative seats in the series on the market.
Speaking earlier this year about the looming generational shift in his ageing driver line-up, Dane highlighted the likes of Super2 young gun (and T8 mechanic) Kurt Kostecki, as well as Porsche-contracted GT drivers Earl Bamber and Matt Campbell, as being on his radar.
Triple Eight could also make a play to poach Simona de Silvestro from Nissan Motorsport, a move that would both largely ensure backing for the third entry, and be in keeping with Holden’s enthusiasm to have its own female Supercars star.
Another factor that’s yet to be determined by the team is exactly where Lowndes will land in terms of the co-driver line-up next year.
The likelihood is that he’ll wind up in one of the two Red Bull cars, which means either teaming up with van Gisbergen or reigniting a partnership with Whincup that has already yielded three Bathurst 1000 wins.
While Dane says the final decision will depend “on the structure of the team” next year, both van Gisbergen and Whincup have both put their hand up for the veteran’s services.
“I think [Roland] will make the decision on where Lowndesy is,” said Whincup.
“We’ve both got great partnerships with Earl [Bamber] and PD [Paul Dumbrell] as well, so who knows?
“But he’s certainly a very, very good option and I’d love the opportunity to drive with him.”
Van Gisbergen added: “I think we’ll be having an arm wrestle for who gets him as a co-driver next year!”