Erebus Motorsport and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport have been playing a game of cat and mouse on and off the track in 2016, chasing results to survive and hopefully prosper.
V8X Supercar Magazine looks at the uphill battle these teams face in the Car of the Future era by interviewing veteran engineer Campbell Little and team owner Betty Klimenko in issue #95.
Issue #95 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #95.
At the mercy of suppliers and sponsors, Erebus Motorsport and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport represent the challenges facing privateer teams in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
There's been significant movement of personnel and sponsors between the two teams who run customer Holden VF Commodores, Walkinshaw Racing cars for Erebus Motorsport and Triple Eight cars for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport. And their rate of improvement into 2017 depends heavily on their customer and sponsorship arrangements.
Little, who has worked with both teams in recent seasons and is currently overseeing the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport operation, questions the ultimate success of the current Supercars model for customer teams in the Car of the Future era.
"The intention was to make it so we all had a common build and a common buy, but the whole thing has been twisted off into space," he says.
"If you don't carry your own spares, you're at the behest of whoever you bought your car from."
Campbell says the "horse has bolted" on the model for the smaller teams.
"What was on the table in 2009 was the common car," he adds. "It should have been more rigidly set in place then. Unfortunately, there were all these excuses about wanting to carry over suspensions and to do this and that to save money and they did it in the first year. But then they didn't in the second, third year and now it's getting worse.
"It was to bolster a couple of the stronger team owners in their model because they sell their cars down to the Development Series and supply the parts.
"The whole championship is built around a business model of supplying parts to smaller teams when they feel like it.
"They are very helpful to us; we go up there and say do you have one of them [part/s], two of them? But we can only get them on their schedule. They have to build a business..."
The customer model is not the only challenge facing smaller teams. Sponsorship is also crucial with the perception these teams rely too heavily on pay drivers.
"If you had a driver that you had to pay and he was good enough then someone else would pay him more," says Campbell. "If you can't get the sponsorship, how are you going to pay for that to happen?"
CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of issue #95 to read the full analysis piece.