Two-time Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose is about to uncork some of his motorsport magic for the next generation of Australia’s rising stars.
Ambrose emerged from a self-imposed exile this year, firstly to join the Supercars commentary team and then to take a management role at Garry Rogers Motorsport while also assisting his mate Owen Kelly in Trans Am competition
But now Ambrose is now activating a personal passion project. He has created a new driver evaluation and training program, aimed at budding professionals who need help and direction in building a driving career.
The Marcos Ambrose ‘Combine’ will be built around four days of intensive track time at the Symmons Plains and Baskerville tracks in Tasmania, where drivers will be exposed and coached through GRM’s range of race cars, from Trans Am and TCR through to S5000 single-seaters.
According to Ambrose, it’s a chance for GRM to exploit its various resources – cars, crew and professional drivers including James Moffat and James Golding – while giving something back to young hopefuls.
“This is not about making money for GRM. And it’s not about finding a superstar driver,” Ambrose tells Race.news. “It’s for young drivers who are on the path and want to know where they sit, how they compare to pro drivers, and give them a platform to go forward.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of cars, and all this equipment and people and knowledge, and it’s not going to the track enough.This is such a great Australian asset. This is one way to use it and to help people.
“The idea is to cost-contain this as much as we can. Motorsport has become very expensive in Australia. With our company and our team, I’m pushing them to use our resources. You do the hard work in the workshop and during testing, then on a race weekend it’s time to execute.”
Ambrose stresses that his Combine is not a ‘star search’ or some sort of money-making academy, and also that it’s not for rank amateurs. Instead, he is looking to identify, coach and encourage people who want to invest and learn how to make a living as racecar drivers.
“We are not looking for kids out of go-karts. It will be very heavily vetted. We’ll be keeping numbers low so we can do the job properly.
“I’m looking at drivers, not amateurs, but people who are already on the journey to be a professional. It’s to show them how to navigate through the broken list of various categories in motorsport.
“Really, for me, it was about finding where the next wave of young professional drivers is coming from. It’s about the health of Australian motor racing. And helping young drivers navigate through the early stages of their career.”
The full Combine program is still being developed, but the starting point for drivers is to register their interest by emailing to: [email protected]
The idea is to have four days of track time at Symmons Plains and Baskerville, which works well for Tasmanian-based Ambrose and the close ties that Barry and Garry Rogers have with the stage. Drivers will cycle through the various GRM racecars while being coached and evaluated, helped by everyone from Ambrose to the various GRM personnel including professional drivers and engineeers.
Drivers will also be able to add a week of work experience at GRM’s race based at Dandenong in Victoria. Skid pan sessions and passenger laps with GRM’s professional drivers in TCR cars will also form part of the program.
“It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s non competitive, but it’s a structured format,” says Ambrose. “We want them to have plenty of time in the cars, and plenty of cars to drive. They can test the cars, see where they’re at, and see where want to go.”
But not everyone will be going into the super-quick S5000 single-seaters, as they will be reserved for drivers who have the skill and experience needed to handle the quickest cars in Australian motorsport. And Ambrose has no plans to drive at the Combine.
“The plan is probably not to drive, but you never know. I’ve been driving the odd car from time to time,” Ambrose laughs.
But he is totally serious about the aims of the Combine, which he sees as an ongoing activity for GRM and its championship partner, the Australian Racing Group.
“We want to get on the front foot with young drivers. We want them to give a taste of it, so they can work out where want to be.”