Garry Rogers has revealed the friendship between Scott McLaughlin and James Moffat nearly prevented them becoming team-mates at Wilson Security GRM.
Moffat was last Monday confirmed as David Wall’s replacement and the Kiwi flier’s new team-mate, signing on for up to three years from 2016.
The 31-year old will move from Nissan Motorsport where he has spent the last three years and claimed that factory team’s only win so far.
“That probably was a deterrent for me I reckon if anything,” said Rogers of the friendship between McLaughlin and Moffat.
“Often you’re better off if you don’t like your team-mate.”
The veteran team owner is clearly unimpressed by the love-in between many of the current generation V8 Supercars drivers, who are good friends off the track as well being rivals on it.
“They all pat each other on the back and it’s all buddy-buddy until someone either punts them off the track or pinches their girlfriend,” he told v8supercars.com.au.
“It’s bulls—,” he added. “We need someone who will run along pitlane and say ‘you ran into me, don’t do it again!”
Rogers said he had eventually overcome his doubts about pairing McLaughlin and Moffat because he believed they were both mature enough to resolve any potential issues.
“If they have a problem they will wear their long pants and I am sure they will sort it out.
“I don’t think there will be issues, but if there are we just have to deal with those things when they come. You can have all these fancy plans, but life is about being ready for reaction if you need it to and don’t have too many plans you can’t react to in a short amount of time.”
Rogers also pointed out that the famously unpretentious crew at GRM would also sort out either driver if they started to misbehave.
“There is no place here for prima donnas and there never has been. Some people will say ‘perhaps you have lost some good drivers because of that’. Well that’s fine because eventually they would be a deterrent to the whole team.
“You need more than a good driver to win races, you need a really good team of people who work together; have their differences but sort them out.”
Rogers was known to also have Scott Pye and David Reynolds on his list as well as Moffat. Pye stayed at DJR Team Penske when it unexpectedly expanded to two cars and Reynolds fell out of favour, while Moffat impressed him with his manner and directness in discussions.
“There was a handful of drivers I was looking at and the speed variation between them was pretty minimal,” Rogers said of the decision-making process. “And they all had their moments of brilliance and their moments of crashes.
“But what really swayed me (towards Moffat) – and I had been watching him for a while – was I met with him and spoke with him and he just seemed very organised and matter of fact on things.
“You could talk to him and he would look you straight in the eye and if he wanted to say something he would say it and he didn’t hedge around. I don’t have time for all that small talk and crap.”
Rogers said Moffat’s task was clear; to get the #34 off the back of the grid where it has struggled for the last two years in the hands of import Robert Dahlgren and Sydneysider David Wall, and race consistently into the top 10.
He said it was important that McLaughlin be placed under pressure by his team-mate so both would push harder and strive for better results for themselves and the team.
“It’s vital, we need to get that car up to where McLaughlin is,” Rogers said.
“The fact of the matter is we’ve been through the Dahlgren affair and we have struggled to get close to the times McLaughlin’s achieved. You never know, he might belt McLaughlin’s ears off and McLaughlin will find another gear.
“He (McLaughlin) knows he can compete with whoever we bring along and he is looking forward to it.”
Rogers also pointed out better results would be an appropriate reward for the #34’s crew led by engineer Manuel Sanchez, as well as play a huge points-boosting role in the team’s championship, pushing the Volvo squad closer to the pitlane exit and handing it a tactical advantage.
“It is really frustrating for your workforce when you have guys working on one car and they continually see that at one end and the guys working on the other car working every bit as hard and putting in every ounce of energy and devotion to the team that they can and they are at the other end.
“I do commend those blokes (on #34). None of them have asked to work on McLaughlin’s car they have just kept at it.”