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Supercars chief Burgess to join Team 18 as team principal

Team 18 has confirmed Adrian Burgess will become its new team principal, just a week after it was revealed he was stepping down as head of motorsport at Supercars.

Mark Winterbottom, Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Burgess is to join the squad, which will field David Reynolds alongside Mark Winterbottom in a new-look driver lineup, on 1 February 2024.

This means a reunion between English engineer Burgess and team owner Charlie Schwerkolt, rekindling their successful partnership that led to championship success at Dick Johnson Racing with James Courtney in 2010.

Burgess will depart the Supercars organisation early next year, ending his five-year tenure in the position during which he oversaw the arrival of Gen3 rules for 2023 – although its first year has been dogged by grumblings over parity between the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.

Burgess has been based in Australia for almost two decades, joining Dick Johnson Racing in 2006 and winning the title with Courtney in 2010 as its sporting director before taking a further three championships on the trot with Jamie Whincup as team principal of Triple Eight.

He spent three and a half years as managing director of Walkinshaw Racing from 2014 to 2017, then had a brief spell at Tekno Autosports before joining the organising body in October 2018.

“It’s incredibly exciting to welcome Adrian Burgess as team principal commencing early next year,” said Schwerkolt. “I’m really pleased to reunite with Adrian, our history together goes back as far as 2006 a highlight being the championship success we celebrated together in 2010.

“This appointment is a great coup for the team and Adrian will be a valuable leader with the skills and experience to bring the results we are all striving for.

Adrian Burgess, Ludo Lacroix

Photo by: Daniel Kalisz / Motorsport Images

Adrian Burgess, Ludo Lacroix

“There is a massive amount to achieve at Team 18 moving forwards, and I believe Adrian will be able to take the team to a new level and best position us for greater success in the years to come.”

Burgess added: “It’s exciting to get the band back together with Charlie. I’m not underestimating the size of the task, the competition is incredibly fierce and it’s one of the most competitive championships in the world.

“Team 18 overall is in a great shape, it showed that this year in Darwin. I’m looking forward to getting on deck, continuing their great culture and working cohesively with everyone to focus on aiming for podiums and consistent performances every weekend and ultimately get ourselves in a position where we can fight for championships, that’s the goal.”

But the move has drawn criticism from the management of the two teams fighting for the championship.

Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan and Triple Eight Team Manager Mark Dutton are both unhappy about the upcoming switch, which does not appear to be subject to the common gardening leave provisions that would otherwise delay the start date for a new role.

Asked whether Burgess should be allowed to move to a team so quickly, Dutton replied: “No he shouldn’t be. It’s really, really that simple. You need to have a non-compete [clause] at this level.”

“I echo Mark’s thoughts,” added Ryan. “It’s a crazy situation that someone can have all that knowledge and not have some sort of restriction on them.

“Every other sport in the world, there’s no way it would have been allowed to happen. So, it’s something that Supercars have got to look at and fix, I think, but that’s just my opinion.”

Adrian Burgess

Photo by: Dirk Klynsmith / Motorsport Images

Adrian Burgess

Burgess’s Supercars HOM role will be filled by Tim Edwards, the long-time Team Principal and CEO of Tickford Racing, who is in his last event in that role this weekend.

“It’s not happened before; someone from Supercars crossing the divide with so much information and it’s probably more relevant now than it’s ever been,” said Edwards.

“Because in the past, even if you knew the [suspension] pick-up points of all of the different cars, everyone’s uprights [are] designed differently, everyone had different engines, there was a lot more differences with the car.

“Whereas now, when we’ve all got exactly the same pick-up points, the same dampers, all those things, it does become more of an issue than it’s ever probably been in the past because of the similarity of the cars.”

While there was some drama off the track, the on-track action was somewhat muted, with wet weather throughout the single 30-minute practice session. Chaz Mostert was fastest in his WAU Ford Mustang, clear of Andre Heimgartner (Brad Jones Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Matt Payne (Grove Racing Ford).

Points leader Brodie Kostecki was ninth fastest in his Erebus Chevrolet, while Shane van Gisbergen, the only other driver in title contention, was 22nd fastest after trying slick tyres on the damp conditions.

On Friday the Adelaide street circuit hosts another 30-minute practice session before qualifying at 5:35pm local time, for Saturday’s 250km opening race.

The 2023 Supercars season concludes at this weekend’s Adelaide 500, before the 2024 season kicks off at the Bathurst 500 on 23-25 February.

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